The prestigious villa stands on a hill in the centre of the town, along the road leading to the bridge over the Ticino, not far from the ancient parish church of SS. Vincenzo and Anastasio. The villa was built after the middle of the 17th century by Cardinal Federico Caccia and in 1972 it was purchased by the municipality of Varallo Pombia, which turned it into the Town Hall, Civic Library, Archaeological Museum and Art Gallery. The building is made up of two sections, orthogonal to each other.
On the north side, facing the park, the main wing presents a very severe architecture, punctuated by simple windows and preceded by two symmetrical ramps that are approached in the central part, so as to place the large hall (now Council Chamber) in communication with the garden.
The façade to the south, overlooking the main courtyard, features two important family crests, painted on the wall: that of the Caccia family and that of Innocent XII, of the Pignatelli family. Finally, a large sundial, framed in elegant Baroque volutes, makes a striking display. The courtyard is bordered towards the street by a two-storey building with an entrance hall and a low arched doorway.
Some windows on the first floor, facing the courtyard, are painted with mysterious figures (trompe-l’oeil). Inside, of particular prestige is the grand staircase in pink granite, winding through an octagonal space, where four 18th-century statues depicting the four seasons can be admired in their respective niches. Also in the main wing are numerous painted coffered ceilings, which embellish the villa’s most representative rooms.
On the first floor of the building, an archaeological museum houses exhibits dating back to the Golasecca and Roman civilisations from excavations in the area. The garden, in romantic taste, is full of camellias and azaleas, rhododendrons and palm trees, while a large chestnut tree marks the spot where the Countess loved to stop for tea with her friends.
At the beginning of the avenue of camellias it is possible to admire a rare ‘michelia’, a plant native to China, which prefers temperate climates and has flowers that give off a pleasant banana aroma: it seems that this is the only specimen in the Novara area.
December 23, 2022