Near Corso Venezia in Milan, the Villa is a perfectly preserved Art Deco jewel thanks to the preservation of FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano) built as the residence for the Necchi Campiglio family, elegant protagonists of Milan's high society in the early 20th century.
We are in the 1930s. The Necchi sisters are returning from an evening at Teatro alla Scala when, in the fog, they find themselves in an unfamiliar street in front of a gate that encloses a marvelous garden with a “For Sale” sign. It is love at first sight, and the next morning, Gigina‘s husband, the doctor and entrepreneur Angelo Campiglio, contacts Count Cicogna to arrange the purchase of the property.
This is the beginning of the story of Villa Necchi Campiglio, whose design is entrusted to Piero Portaluppi, one of the most capable and popular architects of the time, with the task of creating for them the most modern, avant-garde, and chic villa in Milan. While its tennis court, lush garden, and heated pool would already make this urban residence truly exceptional, it is the balance of elements, the choice of materials, the refinement of the style, and the grandeur of the spaces that give the essence of the genius at this place.
Born as a convivial paradise, the villa will continue its function as a meeting place for cultural events, also thanks to the café created by enclosing the existing patio with glass windows.
(Giulia Maria Crespi, founder and honorary president of FAI)
Just mentioning the precious marbles with their various shades, the parchment covering of the dining room, or the rosewood boiserie is enough to understand that we are facing a true masterpiece, built between 1932 and 1935. Portaluppi was able to conceive it with complete freedom thanks to the unlimited budget granted by Gigina and Nedda.
The building was incredibly avant-garde for its time, thanks to the careful considerations made to ensure maximum comfort. It featured internal intercoms, an elevator, a dumbwaiter, and high-quality windows, such as reinforced doors and the immense iron gate that electrically rose from the ground to close the entrance of the villa at night.
Nedda and Gigina were part of the high society in Pavia, owners of foundries and the famous sewing machine industry founded by their brother Vittorio. Together with Gigina’s husband, Angelo, they lived here for their entire lives, transforming their home into a hub of cultural and social gatherings.
Numerous important guests frequented the villa, as evidenced by the photographs still displayed in the rooms, including the Spanish royals and Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy, for whom a room is still referred to as “the princess’s room.”
This privileged glimpse into their lives is faithfully preserved in the house, as if time had stood still. In the kitchen, for example, one can admire the porcelain that were in use boasting a design conceived by architect Portaluppi himself with marvelous geometric patterns inspired by Art Deco, as well as the family’s “logo” that represents the owners of the villa.
The uniqueness of the residence prompted Claudia Gian Ferrari, daughter of the renowned art dealer, to donate her collections to the FAI so that they could find their new home at Villa Necchi Campiglio. Thus, welcoming the visitors, we find “L’amante morta” by Arturo Martini, just one of the wonders encountered while moving through the rooms of the house, along with 40 other artworks dating back to the interwar period by Morandi, De Chirico, and De Pisis.
An entire room on the second floor is dedicated to the legacy of the de’ Micheli family, including a magnificent view of the Grand Canal in Venice by Canaletto.
Since its opening to the public in 2008, Villa Necchi Campiglio has been included in the circuit of House Museums in Milan. It is a wonderful heritage that the sisters decided to entrust to FAI through Giulia Maria Mozzoni Crespi, the foundation’s founder.
The Villa, which can be visited following the indications on the official website, also hosts selected events and has served as a set for important films, including “I Am Love” directed by Luca Guadagnino featuring the magnificent Tilda Swinton, and “House of Gucci” directed by Ridley Scott.
The “gigine”, as the Necchi sisters were affectionately called, lived a life of extravagance, travel, and glamour, but they were also known for their friendship and kind-heartedness. In the 1980s, they sold jewelry and artworks to donate all the proceeds to the IEO (European Institute of Oncology), founded by their private doctor and friend, Umberto Veronesi.