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Villa Ferrari Gussola


Via Roma, 34/36, 26040, Gussola (CR), Italy



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The Story

Since it was built, "Villa Ferrari", formerly known as the "Palazzo", is a happy place. Located in the town of Gussola, it is a stone's throw from Casalmaggiore, the smugglers' town where Fabrizio del Dongo, the hero of the "Certosa di Parma", took refuge, pursued by the guards of Ranuccio Farnese; from Sabbioneta, the fortified town of Vaspasiano Gonzaga; from Colorno, "the little Versaille" of the Bourbons. Geographically, it is at the centre of a triangle of cities among the most beautiful in Italy: Parma, Mantua and Cremona, which is the provincial capital of Gussola.Its happiness is the green in which she is immersed. A sumptuous green, of very fertile land where every plant, every flower, every herb becomes like the paradox of itself for ease of growth, the intensity of colours. The Po flows close by, just eight kilometres away. On summer evenings, when the silence is broken only by the singing of the frogs, their distant breath is heard. A slow and solemn breath, like the ample flow of the largest river in Italy.

The history of Villa Ferrari is reflected through the three families and individual different owners who have succeeded each other over the centuries, from its construction, presumably commissioned by Count Ludovico Magio between the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century, up to the present day.From what emerged through careful archival research, the Villa, or so called "Palazzo", before Giuseppe Ferrari bought it in 1887 from the Marquis Alessandro Trecchi and his aunt Teresa Trecchi Araldi Erizzo, had been the home of a holiday resort and the patronal house of one of the oldest families of the Cremonese nobility, the Magio Counts. The Villa and the vast patrimony it belonged to, passed ownership, by female succession line, in 1830, to another very important noble family of Cremona, precisely the Marquises Trecchi.

Villa Ferrari full story 

The Magio Counts


Bresciani narrates that the Magio, a Cremonese family of jurists of ancient Roman origins, descended from the ancient Maggi Capuani, already mentioned by Tito Livio for having participated, in the figure of Decio Maggio, in the Punic Wars with Hannibal. Over the centuries, the various members of the family held positions of great importance in public affairs and from their origins up to the entire Middle Ages they never ceased to remain tied to military roles of fundamental importance for the city of Cremona and beyond.

They were warriors and captains of fortune, such as Federico Magio, sergeant major following Frederick Barbarossa on the III crusade in 1189 for the reconquest of Jerusalem;

Captains at the service of the city of Cremona, such as, among others, Pompeo Magio who defended the city from the Parmigiani in 1110 and this earned him the honour, in the family coat of arms, of the sparrow hawk that stuffs the quail;

Ambassadors, such as Enrico Magio who, at the court of Henry IV, obtained the privilege of freedom for Cremona in exchange for a five-pound ball of gold offered as a gift to the emperor or as Federico Magio who was, in 1183, ambassador for peace of Costanza and then at the court of the Emperor Federico Barbarossa as spokesman for the Municipalities of Lombardy; Bishops, such as Gherardo Magio who was made Bishop of Cremona in 1305 by Clement V and former apostolic referendum at the court of Boniface VIII.


Documents prove his presence in Gussola as early as 1300 as owners of a vast patrimony, consisting of land and houses of various kinds, which the family never stopped growing in the following years.

In the Middle Ages Gussola played a role of great military importance, a strategic outpost for the defence of the Cremonese lands.


Casalmaggiore was exposed to attacks by neighbouring powers such as Mantova, Parma, Brescia and even Venice, which, going up the Po with its ships, had made the military base of its war fleet there.

The Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo Da Vinci or Cecilia Gallerani, lover of Ludovico il Moro and feudal lord of San Giovanni in Croce, Gussola and Martignana

Gussola, on the other hand, equipped with two forts, hidden by the woods and protected by the marshes of the Po ', represented an almost impregnable military post in defence of the Cremona countryside.

And it is precisely at the castle of Gussola, as well as those of Martignana, S. Giovanni in Croce, Rivarolo and Cividale that in 1301 the captain Alessandro Magio was assigned to train the army of infantrymen to defend the Cremonese territories between the Oglio and Po ', from Mantovani and Brescia.

The presence of the Magio family in the Casalmaggiore lands is still testified by the historian Giuseppe Bresciani who mentions Asdrubale Magio as governor of Casalmaggiore from 1299 to 1308.

Ghibellines, captains in the service of the city of Cremona, initially defended it from the attacks of the Visconti but then became closely linked to them, as well as, later, to the Sforza and the Habsburgs, so much so that the extinction of the feudal family Carminati Bergamino, to which Cecilia Gallerani, the beautiful lady of the Ermine portrayed by Leonardo da Vinci had belonged, Ludovico Magio boasted claims on the purchase of the fiefdom of San Giovanni in Croce, Gussola and Martignana.

As evidenced by the land registry of Charles V, between 1551 and 1561 the Magio were the largest landowners in the area.


 Ludovico Magio

Portrait of Rudolf II of Habsburg as Vertumnus of the Arcimboldi


The family reached its maximum splendour, precisely at the time of Ludovico Magio, who lived between the end of the fifth and the beginning of the seventeenth century, made a count in 1586 by Rudolf II of Habsburg, cultured and enlightened emperor, passionate about magic, occult sciences and astrology, very refined art collector.

Appointed senator and his lieutenant by Philip II, king of Spain, Ludovico Magio, himself, was a man of science and man of letters, jurist, orator and vice-president of the senate at the Governor of the State of Milan.

He married the scion of one of the most important Cremonese noble families Doralice Trecco.

He was consul of justice to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo de Medici.

He was Podestà of Lodi.

Guglielmo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, appointed him Captain of Justice of his state and quaestor in Casal Monferrato.

Philip III elected him a councillor in the secret Council of the State of Milan.

On two occasions, from 1592 to 1593 and from 1604 to 1605, he was also Podestà of Pavia.

In 1593 Ludovico inherited from the family a vast land patrimony, which also included the very important mills on the Po 'and the right to income from duties and taxes such as the one on salt, bought by the Duke of Lorraine, or the one on the Macina di Cremona and on the gates of Gussola.

The heritage that Ludovico inherited from his father, Nicolò Magio, also included that particular property located in the so-called Villa Franca district in Gussola, made up of land partly used as the vegetable garden, partly with meadows and ploughed lands, partly with vines, in which there was a remarkable complex made up of various buildings of both rural and residential nature, delimited to the south by the one that in the years to come was transformed into Via de 'Corti precisely because of the presence of the sumptuous residences of the various branches of the Magio family and where in the Immediately following documents, the so-called “Palazzo”, that is the current Villa, will appear.

Evidently, the same spirit of affirmation that had led him to boast rights on the fiefdom of the Dama dell'Ermellino prompted him to build a dwelling that lived up to his expectations of a refined life but at the same time linked to a concept of high culture and still influenced by late Renaissance purity of Mannerism.

The Marquises Trecchi


The last male heir of the Ludovico Magio family was Alessandro who died in 1830, bequeathing the "Palazzo" of Gussola and most of the substantial family patrimony to one of his two daughters Orsola, who was married to the Marquis Manfredo VII Ignazio Trecchi.


The Trecchi Marquises were one of the most ancient and important families of Cremona, owners, among other things, of the monumental Palazzo Trecchi in Cremona, precisely.

Manfredo VIII Alessandro Gaspare Trecchi


The Garibaldi


From the marriage of Orsola Magio to Ignazio three children were born: in 1810 Manfredo VIII Alessandro Gaspare, in 1817 Teresa Giulia who married the nobleman from Parmesan Don Pietro Araldi Erizzo and in 1819 Massimiliano who married Teresa Ghirlanda in Milan.

Orsola Magio Trecchi died in 1867 leaving his son Gaspare heir of the Magio estates in Scandolara, Martignana and Gussola, with the "Palazzo" in Via Corti, which on his death in 1877 passed to his sister Teresa Araldi and his nephew Alessandro, son of Massimiliano, to be sold a decade later to Giuseppe Ferrari.

All the members of the Trecchi family were fervent Garibaldini including Teresa Araldi whose affectionate correspondence with Garibaldi exists in the historical archive in Cremona. in Parmigiano, where Teresa's husband, Pietro Araldi, owned a property and some vines) to use them in his famous Caprera vineyard.

Gaspare, on the other hand, was close to Garibaldi, his aide-de-camp, he participated in the Wars of Independence, earning three silver medals and Garibaldi, placing the blindest trust in him, did not hesitate to entrust him, in the long run of their friendship, several secret missions. In addition to his passion for chivalry, he also had a great interest in ancient weapons which he owned, together with his brother Massimiliano, an important collection.

Cultured and refined, a great lover of art and an artist himself, honorary partner of the Institute of Fine Arts of the Marche and Urbino, member of the Royal Academy of Raphael of Urbino and of Fine Arts of Milan, Gaspare made with his hand, between 1843 and 1847, the project for the neo-Gothic style renovation of the imposing Palazzo Trecchi in Cremona.

In the same vein he realizes two studies, designed by his own hand, for embellishments to be carried out in the "Palazzo" of Gussola, respectively in 1836 and 1843 and relief of the facade in 1864.

An avid traveller, in 1857, who had already come into possession of the assets of the Magio family in Scandolara, Martignana and Gussola, including the "Palazzo", he returns them to his mother to obtain liquidity in order to finance the long-awaited trips to Italy and abroad and to participate in Garibaldi's campaigns.

Surely the figure of the Marquis Alessandro Gaspare attracted great curiosity and admiration in the small Gussolese world (and beyond). Garibaldino, artist, traveller represented a typical example of a nineteenth-century romantic hero. The authors of "Gussola between word and image ..." tell us about a dialectal way of saying still existing today in Gussola that when the bells ring in the celebration it says "li suna in ducala", referring to when they played in celebration for the arrival, with his entourage, of the Marquis (in the popular imagination even raised to the title of Duke, see "ducala") to call people even from the fields to pay him homage.


The Ferrari family


The Ferrari family came into possession of the "Palazzo" in 1887, when Giuseppe Ferrari bought it from the grandson of the Marquis Gaspare Trecchi, Alessandro.


Beppe and Giovanna Ferrari


Beppe, Renzo's son and Giuseppe's nephew, married Giovanna Ferrari from Parma in 1934 and Giovanna was certainly the owner who most loved the Villa di Gussola.

At the beginning of the 1930s, just in anticipation of his marriage to Giovanna, Beppe decided to modernize "the Palazzo". He commissioned a series of drawings and projects from Studio Bocchi in Parma, which should have embellished it, and undertook an enormous structural intervention also in order to introduce all the most modern comforts into the home, to welcome the future bride.

From Giovanna's arrival at Villa Ferrari, a season of parties and receptions began that has never stopped. Cars, like Beppe's Isotta Fraschini, came roaring in a cloud of dust on the dirt road, with all the friends they had been able to board. All to participate in rigidly masked parties with austere brunette ladies, who transformed themselves into blond queens, with large wide eyes, and unsuspected gentlemen who, bald in life, flaunted flowing tow hair for the occasion. But also very elegant parties, with sumptuous women like queens and gentlemen stiffly in tuxedos, who got out of big black cars and spyders gleaming with chrome and colored paints.

We started cooking a week before the holidays. But it was not only the goodness of the dishes, prepared with great care by a crowd of women, that made the hospitality extraordinary. It was also the refinement of the presentation of the food on a tablecloth of Flanders of centenary old kits, with triumphs of fruit and flowers in the center of the table, as beautiful as ancient sculptures.

Photographing those arriving at the Villa with the "Leica" was a ritual. So in the light closet of the study, packs of images of smiling friends were piled up, who were sitting in the garden, sitting under the gazebo drinking tea, or dancing in the great hall in both funny and elegant poses, with one arm raised and the other attached to the life of young and beautiful wives.

The history of the park


The garden, as it now appears to our eyes, is a mixture of "Italian" and "English" styles, desired by its most affectionate owner, the beautiful and passionate botanist Giovanna Ferrari.

Since 1934, when she arrived in Gussola, she was a young twenty-four-year-old wife of Beppe Ferrari, she dedicated herself, with sensitivity and passion, to its expansion and embellishment.

The oldest part, the one adjacent to the Palace, has the classic Italian garden layout.

It is clear, from reading an ancient lease of 1770, that at that time the agricultural property merged with the actual manor garden, which was also entrusted to the care of the farmer.

Among other things, the farmer had to provide, for the period of the Count's holiday in Gussola, to supply the kitchens of the "Palazzo" with part of the vegetables from the adjacent field, planted with vegetables; he had to take care of the fruit trees near the well and the icebox (the latter was used to keep the fine foods and wines of the Magio Counts fresh); moreover, it had to preserve the delicious fruits, such as those of the pear trees, so-called "Inganna Gnocchi", the "Pomella Rossa", the "Pomi Granati", all reserved for the exclusive use of the Master Count. And, instead of the

modern use of agricultural machinery, the tenant would have undertaken to ensure that the "beasts", grazing, would have kept the grass of the central avenues and those located upstream of the Palace mowed, at the same time taking care that the same animals would not damage its most precious fruits.

Later Giovanna added to the more geometric part of the Italian garden background of a romantic English garden with large open lawn areas and, all around the perimeter, shrubs and trees grouped to form wings that were supposed to protect from prying eyes. its corner of paradise.

In 1943 Giovanna and Beppe commissioned a beautiful project for the renovation of the park to one of the most famous Italian landscape architects, Pietro Porcinai, but, probably, the war events prevented its realization.

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