Villa Zanelli in Savona and the poetry of abandonment
To quote Montale, we could say,
Sou’westers have lashed the old walls for years, although we are looking at Villa Zanelli and not at “The House of the Customs Men” that inspired the famous poet from Liguria. The beautiful Art Nouveau building overlooking the sea from Legino, Savona, has been completely abandoned since 1998, when it partially collapsed and had to be closed down.
Villa Zanelli was likely designed by architect Gottardo Gussoni, from Turin, and inaugurated in 1907. Named after the original owners, the elegant house was decorated according to the imaginative canons of the “new art” that was sweeping Europe off its feet in the late 19th century. In 1933 the Zanellis sold it to the Municipality of Milan, which first turned it into an international camp, then into a hospital during the Second World War, and finally into a heart patient public clinic from the 1960s on.
“In complete darkness / you do not quit living, / while time passes through you / and humidity gradually ruins your soul. […] // Only shadows / know about / the secrets / of boarded up houses, / only the rejected wind, / or the moon blooming above the roof”: we truly hope these verses by Pablo Neruda can bring this beautiful, abandoned house some luck.