The hillsides to the west of Menaggio town are a lush green and are speckled with homes, villas, churches, historical monuments, and even a golf course. The view from just about any vantage point is breathtaking; no matter what the weather. It is no surprise that in 1829 the massively rich German businessman and philanthropist, Heinrich Mylius, chose to buy a villa in the hamlet of Loveno on the slopes above Menaggio; now known as the Villa Mylius Vigoni.
Villa Mylius Vigoni was the Summer house of Heinrich Mylius and his family. Their main residence was in Milan where he gathered immense wealth as an entrepreneur in both the silk and banking industry. He supported charitable organizations, a technical university, was a patron of the arts, and took an active interest in the cultural exchange between his native Germany and his adopted homeland Italy. However, just like us, when the Mylius family needed to get away from it all, they chose Lake Como.
Heinrich Mylius decided to give the country estate in Loveno to his son Julius (Giulio) as a wedding present. However, when his son died only a year later, he chose to transform the villa into a tribute to his son making it even more attractive over the years with a rich collection of paintings, statues, sculptures and furniture. In addition, a small neo-classical temple was erected to honour Julius (Giulio), designed by the architect Gaetano Besia. The house was gradually transformed into a museum which was subsequently carefully conserved by the Vigoni family who later inherited it.
Eventually, with no heirs to further inherit the villa, the Federal Republic of Germany became the owners of the villa. In the mid-1980s, a centre for cultural and political understanding was established in the Villa Mylius Vigoni to actively develop the relationship between Germany and Italy, mirroring Heinrich Mylius’ own passion.
The Villa Mylius Vigoni is very interesting and certainly worth a visit. Check out the web site for timings and activities; you can even go there to learn German. However, I believe it is the park which captivates most people. It surrounds the villa and extends like a horseshoe over 8 hectares (20 acres) representing one of the finest examples of romantic gardens to be found in Lombardy. The park was designed between 1855 and 1865 by the architect Giuseppe Balzaretti and shows off the amazing Lake Como landscape with its artfully panoramic views. Enjoy!