Villa Argentina in Viareggio and Chini’s exotic Art Nouveau
Villa Argentina, in Viareggio, was built in 1868, expanded in 1926 by eclectic architect Alfredo Belluomini, and decorated by Galileo Chini (1873-1956), a Florentine painter and ceramist considered among the best of Italian Art Nouveau (also known as Liberty).
Thanks to the talent and fame of this “famous artist, who owned the Ceramics Factory of the same name and had a small villa built for himself in Lido di Camaiore”, Viareggio became the center of “a new style trend, which from 1918 to the 1930s would substantially transform the face of the city” (R. Tagliabue, “Comunicazione e turismo. Il caso Versilia”, I.S.U. Università Cattolica, Milan 2003).
In 1911, Chini had been summoned by Chulalongkorn, monarch of Siam, to decorate the Royal Palace completed by a team of Italian architects and engineers. The experience kept him abroad until 1913, when he returned with vivid impressions of the Orient that he would go on to channel in many of his later works, both figurative and decorative.
And that’s how Villa Argentina, a masterpiece of Italian Liberty just like the Berzieri Thermal Baths, came to echo the exotic wonders of Thailand.