Villa Olmo is the most famous and sumptuous of the historic Como residences. The gigantic tree that gave the villa its name no longer exists, but the Italian garden at the front and the English park at the back are full of old trees and tall trees. The building was built for the Odescalchi family at the end of the 18th century.
Villa Olmo History
Villa Olmo is an imposing building located along a splendid bend of Lake Como and takes its name from a colossal elm, legendarily planted by Pliny the Younger, who once beautified the park of the villa.
The original architecture (central part), neoclassical, was designed by Simone Cantoni di Muggio in the late eighteenth century, presenting a raised central body, punctuated by columns of giant order decorated with rounds depicting Plato, Solon, Talete, Socrates and Pythagoras, the work of sculptor Francesco Carabelli; Inside, in perfect continuity with the architectural solutions of the facade, an immense square atrium occupies the entire area of the ancient Villa Odescalchi going to cover, in height, the space of three floors. From here a large arch leads to the grand staircase, embellished with marbles and stuccos of fine workmanship.
From the atrium, continuing towards the back of the building, one enters the majestic ballroom, covered by a pavilion vault on which stand out the beautiful frescoes by the Ticino painter Domenico Pozzi depicting the main gods of Olympus. After passing the ballroom, a flight of rooms leads to a series of rooms intended for conversation and reception.
On the walls, richly decorated with stuccos and gildings, some large frescoes with mythological themes give the name to the rooms that, from these, are also said: of Dionysus, of Dionysus and Ariadne, of Artemis; On the first floor, the mythological decorations are concentrated in the rooms dedicated to Olympus with the medallion depicting the Apotheosis of Heracles and the adjoining hall of the arts.
To the first owner, Innocenzo Odescalchi, others succeeded him who enlarged the building, adding the wings, while not altering the stylistic face. Among the illustrious guests we point out Napoleon in 1797 and Ugo Foscolo in 1808. Three times he hosted the visit of the emperors of Austria, Francis II in 1816 and 1826 and Ferdinand I in 1838, welcomed with great honors.
In 1824, with the death of Innocenzo Odescalchi, the residence was inherited by the Marquis Giorgio Raimondi. The Marquis Giorgio Raimondi played an important role in the uprisings of 1848-49. For this reason he was exiled to Switzerland, in the Canton of Ticino, and the villa was requisitioned. In 1859 Giuseppe Garibaldi also stayed there, who married (apart from repudiating it soon afterwards for infidelity) the daughter of the Marquis, Giuseppina Raimondi.
In 1883 the villa was sold to the Marquis Guido Visconti di Modrone. The marquises entrusted the architect Emilio Alemagna with the demolition of the stables and a portico, the opening of two balconies, the remaking of the stuccos on the ground floor, the arrangement of the park and the construction of a small theater.
Since 1924 the villa belongs to the City of Como, which after restoration, has designated it as a venue for cultural events.