Villa Manzoni at the Caleotto di Lecco is a large complex, renovated in the early 1600s on earlier buildings, where first lived Giacomo Maria, the quadrisolo of Alexander, who moved definitively to Lecco from the original Barzio.
Pietro Manzoni, Alessandro’s father, spent the winter period in Milan but the rest of the year in Lecco, dealing with relationships and business. And the Caleotto, the family villa, was the physical center of his status as landowner of the Larian and aspiring Milanese patrician. And when Alessandro inherited it, he embellished it to continue to be a symbol of prestige and strength.
The building is spread over approximately 3,504 square meters covered, with a plot of 4,600 square meters per park.
In a neoclassical style, the structure has an access courtyard, a courtyard of honor with a portico, the body of the villa, the master cellars located in the basement with natural ice and presses in excellent condition dating back to 1600 and finally the Chapel of the Assumption , where the writer’s father was buried.
In the years when he grew up, he studied and lived Alessandro Manzoni, and until 1818, when he sold the entire property to the Scola family, the villa dominated a large plot of land, cultivated with vineyards and mulberry trees, which was the source of the raw material for the cultivation of silkworms. This is why the Scola family, engaged in the silk industry, bought it.
But they left, mindful of the great figure of the writer, unchanged some rooms on the ground floor that have remained so unchanged over time since the writer sold the villa. And they placed a plaque on the facade in 1885 with a text by Cantù.
“Alessandro Manzoni / in his villa up until 1818 / was inspired by the Hymns to the Adelchi / Promessi Sposi / where the places costumes our facts / and himself immortalized / the Scola family / in the 1st centenary 7 March 1885 / a perpetual cult poses / C. Cantù dictated ».
Since 1940, by royal decree, Villa Manzoni has been a national monument together with the former Capuchin Convent of Pescarenico.
In Lecco, Manzoni started a great friendship, which remained unchanged throughout his life, with Giuseppe Bovara, the well-known architect to whom many works of the Lecco area are owed. He certainly composed some of the Sacred Hymns, which inaugurated the new way of his poetry and much of the Adelchi tragedy, which placed him in European attention.
And the villa of the Caleotto of Lecco constituted for Manzoni the house in which to mature and make the messages of beauty and to drink in large sips the aura of freedom, as the Abbot Stoppani wrote, that that aura knew well.
Here, in memory of the days spent in nature, staring at those lake and mountain landscapes and those particular human figures in the heart, he defined that vast world that constitutes the background of much of I Promessi Sposi.
Since 1963, Villa Manzoni has been owned by the Municipality of Lecco and is home to both the Manzoni Museum and a specialized library that collects and consults over 20,000 volumes on the Lecco area in the different research areas connected with the activities of the Civic Museums.
In the villa of Caleotto, there are some memories of the author of the Promessi Sposi. On the ground floor, the museum displays prints and paintings to represent the life and history of the famous writer. Some rooms on the ground floor remained with the original furnishings of 1818, when the writer sold the villa. In the original the inkwells, the cradle, some chairs, prints, autographs, some editions, a chandelier, some furniture, the grisaille room, a large boardroom.
Within this, the Manzonian Fund is of particular importance, which includes all the original editions of the Manzoni works, the most important Italian and foreign editions of the Promessi Sposi, critical essays on Manzoni’s topic published from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day.
Villa Manzoni is also home to the “Municipal Art Gallery”, which houses, on the first floor, artists from Lecco or artists who have worked in these places such as Massimo d’Azeglio, Carlo Pizzi and Giovan Battista Todeschini, nephew of the Abbot Stoppani.