One of the most important historic buildings in the Brianza area of Milan, Villa Antona Traversi di Meda was built at the beginning of the nineteenth century, transforming the female monastery of San Vittore into a noble residence, one of the oldest and most glorious holy sites in the region.
Villa Antona Traversi History
The complex of Villa Antona Traversi is located in Meda (MB) and occupies a hilly relief that was chosen almost twelve centuries ago to found the Monastery of San Vittore, around 830. On the foundation of the Monastery there is a legend, evidenced by the code 509 preserved in the Trivulziana Library of Milan: Aimo and Vermondo, counts of Turbigo, of the house of Manfredingi, during a hunt in Brianza they were chased by wild boars up to a place where it stood a church in honor of San Vittore. Here they found "two laurels of marvelous grandeur" on which they climbed, seeking salvation. As the wild boar continued to threaten them from the feet of the shrubs, they vowed: if they were saved, they would have founded a monastery dedicated to St. Victor. The Virgin fulfilled their prayers and Aimo and Vermondo, in thanksgiving, "founded in honor of the holy and glorious Saint Victor the Martyr, a noble monastery of Saints following the rule of St. Benedict". The Monastery already exists in the year 856: a parchment attests that in that year the abbess Tagiperga carries out an exchange of land with Pietro, abbot of the monastery of S. Ambrogio in Milan.
The authority of the Monastery was reaffirmed during the first centuries, as attested by the five papal bulls and the imperial diploma preserved in the archive. In 1194 the monastery hosted Emperor Henry VI with his wife Constance of Altavilla, who stopped in Meda during the journey to the Kingdom of Sicily. From documents kept in the monastery's archive we learn that until 1252 the abbess of St. Victor had the right to exercise lordship. The village of Meda, originally built as an agglomeration of houses employed by the nuns, was fortified and became particularly important after the year 1000, when it became the site of a famous market. From the end of the 11th century and coinciding with the period of communal struggles, Meda tried to obtain the liberation from the lordship of the monastery until the abbess Maria da Besozzo, in the year 1252, renounced the feudal rights, signing a transaction with the municipality and recognizing its statutes, but saving the independence of the monastery and its ecclesiastical rights, in particular the right to nominate the curate of the church of Santa Maria.
Meda was attracted to the Milanese orbit and suffered the same noble domination first (Visconti, Sforza) and then foreign. In 1496 a meeting took place in Meda between the Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg and the Duke of Milan Ludovico il Moro, in the presence of the legates of the main Italian States of the time. After the Spanish period, which for the monastery meant vocational growth and economic consolidation, the Habsburg period was more troubled, especially during the anticlerical policies of Joseph II of Habsburg: the monastery was not suppressed because the House of Educande, until then reserved for novices in view of the monk, it was transformed into a school open to the girls of the town. After the arrival of Napoleon and the proclamation of the Cisalpine Republic the female monastery of St. Victor on May 29, 1798 was suppressed, the nuns expelled and the goods sold at auction.
The monastic building was purchased by Giovanni Giuseppe Maunier, a trader from Marseille and supplier of the French army, who commissioned the transformation into a neoclassical villa to the architect Leopoldo Pollack, who was in Meda at that time as evidenced by his reports and drawings left regarding the collapse of the church tower. The architect was a disciple of Piermarini and was already active in Milan in the construction of the Villa Reale. In 1836 the villa was sold by the heirs of the Maunier and purchased by Giovanni Traversi, whose descendants, the Antona Traversi, still preserve it.
Today Villa Antona Traversi is architecturally presented in neoclassical forms and the same taste is found in the interior fresco decorations, but there are still surviving remains of the ancient Monastery, in particular the church of S. Vittore from 1520. Leopoldo Pollack kept the cloister of the monastery, which currently serves as the inner courtyard of the villa, partially closing its arches. The part where the architect's intervention is most evident is the façade and the garden. This was thought of as a large hemicycle, or "rotunda", facing south-east on the hill from which once dominated the vineyard, now disappeared, and the village of Meda. The long façade was built on this spectacular parterre, also characterized by essential decorations and rigorous lines in the Piermarinian style.
The part of the church reserved for the nuns, twin with respect to the church reserved for the faithful (the current church of San Vittore, which has remained intact), was divided into two parts by a partition to be used as a granary: the lower hall , which preserves part of the late Renaissance frescoes, was transformed into Limonera. In the upper hall, called "Sala del Coro", the frescoes attributed to Bernardino Luini and his school are better preserved. The pictorial decoration covers it entirely. On the vault, a dense monochrome drawing with floral and grotesque motifs unfolds, according to the typical late-Renaissance taste, while on the walls there are rounds with saints and martyrs, and in the center a blessing Christ of obvious Leonardesque derivation, flanked by St. Peter and St. John the Evangelist
Inside the villa, the only room to preserve decorations of the ancient monastery, in addition to the former church, is the archive room, called Sala degli Angeli, which presents the vault frescoed by the Fiammenghini. Instead, the refined neoclassical decorations of the Napoleonic period are perfectly preserved in the octagon and in the hall of the masks, with a vault painted with fake chests of drawers and ornamental motifs of classical derivation inspired by the Roman theater.
The Villa contains unique environments such as the Sala del Coro, the former internal church of the Monastery, still decorated with the cycle of frescoes and the arabesque vault of the Luinesca school. The Cloister, today a porticoed courtyard of over 1,000 square meters. La Limonera, the Sala delle Maschere and the octagonal Hall.
In addition, of course, to the Church of San Vittore, built starting in 1520 and still intact to us.
Villa Antona Traversi offers a wide variety of spaces, both internal and external, which make it a unique setting for the organization of weddings and events. The location is granted exclusively for the whole day, with the possibility of personalizing every moment of the reception.