Milan is full of architectural gems. A couple of the attractions I was most excited to visit in Italy were actually located in Milan, Villa Necchi Campiglio being one of them. I wrote a list of reasons why I wanted to spend three months in Italy long before I boarded my flight. It’s a very long list but one of the bullet points was to be surrounded by large grandiose doors, overly high ceilings, vast rooms, and exceptional interior style. The Villa Necchi Campiglio checked all of these off my list for me.
If you’ve seen the movie ‘I Am Love’ (2009) then you will be familiar with this house. Another beautifully portrayed interior experience from Luca Guadagnino. This Italian film director is known for selecting exceptional houses to play a role in his work. I’m a big fan so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered this house was open to the public.
Entry is by guided tour only. There are daily tours available in english for €12 and lasting roughly one hour. A wonderful place to spend the afternoon. Quiet, not full of tourists, and rich in Milan culture.
This house was designed by the famous architect Piero Portaluppi between 1932 and 1935 for the upper-middle class household of sisters Nedda and Gigina Necchi, along with Gigina’s husband Angelo Campiglio. Portaluppi was given an unlimited budget while designing this house so the materials and detailed design are absolutely exquisite. From the moment you set foot on the property you immediately start to experience the authentic atmosphere of 1930s Milan, and you will never want to leave.
The house still contains original Chanel and Dior clothing worn by the sisters, along with wardrobes full of top designer bags and accessories. Vintage perfume bottles line the bathroom counters and original sketches done by Matisse and Picasso are hung on the walls. Very different from a traditional museum, you can start to imagine what a typical day looked like as the tour guide walks you through to the smoking room, overlooking the private pool surrounded by magnolias.
The Villa had five full time employees while it was in operation, living in the staff quarters and maintaining all aspects of the property. The kitchen and laundry rooms are still set up in the way the staff contained them. With branded linens folded on the tables and custom china stacked neatly in the cupboards. You can visualize the efficient work flow pumping through the veins of this house years before.
Protaluppi brilliantly blends his art deco and rationalist styles with simple touches, filling the space with liveliness while remaining true to Milan. Gold panels on doors, walnut wood floors, timeless furnishings and sculptures, and the special star window cut into the marble wall (entrance) brought a worldliness feel to 1930s Milan.
A very unique Villa for the location, the trio were proud owners of one of Milan’s only swimming pools. This is a typical layout of a country house, but not a city house. Surrounded by quiet gardens and fragrant wisteria, it’s an escape from the city of Milan (although located right in the centre). The layers of the house are really incredible. There is a distinct change in style as you glide between rooms, yet just enough to maintain a cohesive feel to the house as a whole. The ceiling in each room has a completely different design, all equally beautiful and classic.
It’s no wonder Luca Guadagnino fell in love with this house. If you enjoy gorgeous interiors and sophisticated design, I highly recommend his movies. Especially I Am Love featuring the Villa Necchi Campiglio (pictured below). If I return to Milan I will go back again. Just to be surrounded by the beauty of this architectural masterpiece fills my head with inspiration and interior dreams. Put it on your list everyone!