Carlo Torre’s “Il ritratto di Milano”, published in the 1700s, includes a description of the Nymphaeum at Villa Visconti Borromeo Arese Litta in Lainate (twenty kilometers north-west of Milan) that is so bombastic it sounds quite funny to our modern ear:
“A place where Generosity and Wealth compete… Where Architecture designed a Dwelling for the Delights that always live there, turning it into a modern rendition of the Hanging Gardens built in Babylon…”
His presentation of the Villa ends with:
“Foreigners seldom leave our Milanese City without visiting this Palace, which we know as ‘Fountain of Count Pirro in Leinate’.”
German composer Johann Christian Bach and French author Stendhal were amongst the famous foreigners who explored the Villa and the annexed Nymphaeum, built in the late 1500s by Count Pirro I Visconti Borromeo, according to designs by architect Martino Bassi.
Both of them were mesmerized by the beautiful Nymphaeum and its water games (which still surprise visitors today with splashes and gushes in unexpected places and moments); by the rooms meant to be like museum halls showcasing art, the grottesche, the tuff stone stalactites encrusted in precious gems and seashells, the statues, mosaics and frescoes…
Visiting Milan? Before you leave, don’t miss Pirro Visconti Borromeo’s Nymphaeum.