Villa Ducale

High society, culture, and spirituality

The Ducale villa was named in honor of the Duchess of Genoa, Elisabeth of Saxony, but this villa has witnessed a number of owners over the centuries.

This was the first home built in Stresa, by Stresa native Giacomo Filippo Bolongaro. Famous guests included Alessandro Manzoni, who used to enjoy long philosophical discussions with his host Antonio Rosmini, as well as Margherita of Savoy, who started to visit Stresa once her mother bought the home after the death of the abbot from Rovereto.

Built in 1771, the villa must have contrasted quite a bit with the humble homes of fishermen and farmers which characterized the small hamlet at that time.

This villa also functioned as a place to host famous travelers – until luxurious hotels were built nearby it, in more recent times. However the classy hotels haven’t diminished the villa’s elegance one bit.

This home is surrounded by the garden, which not only separates it from the road but also ensures quiet and privacy; visitors can take a peaceful walk in the shade of centuries-old camellias, cedar trees, southern magnolias, rhododendrons and many other highly decorative plants.

Villa Ducale is now the headquarters of the Centro Internazionale di Studi Rosminiani (International Centre of Rosminian Studies), which houses a very rare library. With over 110 thousand volumes, it is one of the most well-stocked and complete libraries in Piedmont specializing in eighteenth and nineteenth century works. A substantial production of works by Antonio Rosmini can also be found here, as well as the Antonio Rosmini History Museum which allows visitors to learn about one of Italy’s most important and multi-faced figures of the nineteenth century, and his way of thinking.

The museum is housed on two floors and includes the room where Antonio Rosmini left his last spiritual testament to his very dear friend Alessandro Manzoni – “Adorare, Tacere, Godere” (Worship, Be Still, Enjoy) – as he lay on his deathbed on July 1st, 1855.

This is a short introduction to the life of a great man, who left his intellectual inheritance to the city of Stresa and contributed to its prestige and glory, even if only for a few years.

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