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Villa Necchi Campiglio, Milan

14 Via Mozart
Tel: 39 02 7634 0121
view web site ›'s insider take:

The cultured lifestyle of Milanese high society around the middle of the 20th century is brought vividly to life in this fascinating new casa museo. Located a short stroll away from the fashion strip and yet immersed in greenery, the villa was designed by Fascist-era architect Piero Portaluppi for two sisters whose vast fortune derived from their family's sewing machine factory—they were the Singers of Italy. It's a fascinating mix of '30s rationalism and out-and-out luxury: In one of the bathrooms, there's a bench carved out of a solid block of lapis lazuli. Portaluppi's plan, later partly reworked in flouncy Venetian mode by Tommaso Buzzi, is surprisingly technological for its time, with double glazing, underfloor heating, and a system of flashing-light panels in the scullery so that servants knew exactly where in the house they were required. Two 20th-century private art collections are also on display here, both big on Italian artists of the metaphysical school, such as Mario Sironi and Giorgio De Chirico. Outside are the small swimming pool and a summer pavilion that has become a charming café, open daily from 10 am to 9 pm (it's a great insider spot for lunch). You can visit the villa itself on a guided tour, but you must book ahead (English-speaking guides can be arranged).

Tours Wednesdays through Sundays, every 20 minutes from 10 am to 5:15 pm.

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