Villa Pignatelli, in Naples, faces the beautiful sea of the Chiaia Riviera.
Imagine going inside with a noblewoman from Marche: Caterina Ricci, niece of Massimo D’Azeglio and grandniece of Alessandro Manzoni.
Imagine going back in time to 1882, when this magnificent neoclassic palace – built by British baronet, Sir Ferdinand Richard Acton in the early 19th century – belonged to the Pignatelli Aragona Cortés princes:
“You go in through a great gate with coats of arms, initials, crowns and so on in gold. Cross an elegant garden with beautiful flowerbeds, and you will reach a staircase. At the atrium door, two powdered footmen in red liveries, with short pants and white socks, stand at both sides and bow.”
“In the atrium one more footman, dressed in black with shorts, black socks and powder on his face, takes your cloak; at the crystal door leading from the atrium to the other rooms, another two red puppets open for you with deep bows. Among all this magnificence, you enter a hall that is completely decorated with yellow and red damask, with a number of flowers and plants, big lights and few people…” (translated from “Napoli habillée: Scenari della Napoli aristocratica nelle lettere di Carolina Ricci”, Osanna Edizioni, Venosa, 2013).
Today, over a century since that triumphant entrance, Villa Pignatelli opens its doors to the public.
It is a house-museum with wonderful, antique decor: silverware and bronze statues (including one of Narcissus by Vincenzo Gemito), 19th-century furniture, candelabra and clocks, fine ceramics from Limoges, Chelsea, Zurich, Meissen, Sèvres and Vienna, Capodimonte porcelain, maiolicas and earthenware.
There are also a splendid garden and a Carriage Museum… all of it waiting for you to make your imaginary visit come true.