Parco e Villa Raggio

Piazza Tre Martiri

Parco e Villa Raggio
The park is located in an unexpected green and calm corner, with shady alleys for walkings, wide grasslands and secular tree species framing the fine 19th century house, which nowadays hosts the municipal library. The house and its park, born as private residence for the summer season, are nowadays the urban cultural center and they hosts many public events during the year.
The quadrangular park (4,2 hectares) expands behind the house: a central alley and two perimetral ones, conjoining behind the building, design its layout. The tree-lined avenues enclose wide grasslands, where arboreal groups or single species of considerable dimensions arise; other thicker plants spots, disposed closed to the house, complete its green heritage, which counts for around 750 plants (a tree census of the park was completed in 2006 and a black card with a progressive number is visible on many trunks).
After having walked through the main entrance gate of the park, there is a large flowerbed on the left, dominated by a kind of yew trimmed in obliged shape, and there is a fine house with a rectangular tower on its top and embellished by an elegant iron and glass porch in Liberty style, added in 1920 and sheltering the main door. On the right, a spot of yews hides the trunk of a big plane tree and a green belt formed by old horse chestnuts and yews shelters the house from the street (over the street, there is the kindergarten “Clara Raggio”, founded in 1893 by Armando Raggio and entitled to his wife).
An arcade entrance and a balcony adorned with pillars and friezes characterize the eastern facade of the house, which is turned towards a private space, dominated by a spot of hackberries with a unique wide foliage supported by four trunks reunited at the bottom. Northwards, the grass is enclosed by a thick tree spot, with a secular cedar of Lebanon surrounded by common ashes, hackberries, young magnolias and old yews. Quite farther, there are two further cedars of Lebanon and other hackberries, with the typical ribbed trunks, which grow up together with big ageing robinias. A recently planted mixed spot, with field elm, mountain maple, American maple, hackberry, yew and boxwood, hides the miniature remains of the icebox, which are located eastwards, in an isolated corner a short distance away from the new border fence with the previous service facilities of the house. Towards the central alley, instead, together with an old kind of mountain maple, there are an old sequoia and another majestic cedar, accompanied by horse chestnuts and yews. Over the alley, another thick mixed formation occupies the spaces behind the house; groups of soforas, rows of yews, some big English oaks, old lindens and horse chestnuts and a slim Douglas fir are part of it. A double row of lindens, with many coeval species and some newly planted ones, lines the central unpaved alley crossing the whole green area and leading to the entrance along the northern border, close to the railway station (the gate is yet always closed). By its side, there is a small playground shaded by the Atlantic cedars, horse chestnuts and catalpas. The alley crossing the eastern area is accompained by a double row with field elms (the candelabra shape is due to the past prunings and the trunks, covered in moss and lichen, are often marked by evident cavities). Along the unpaved path forming the external ring on the western side, horse chestnuts, mountain maples, American maples and catalpas alternate with other ageing species. The alley connects the house to the old greenhouse, which was recently renovated.
Between the western alley and the central one, there is a unique wide open space, entirely occupied by the grassland, whereas in the eastern area of the park there are two grasslands separated by belts of hackberries and walnuts and punctuated by English oaks, American walnuts, cedars of Lebanon and Atlantic cedars of considerable ornamental value, beside a group of pines (the first of the two spaces is used in summer for film festivals and other events).
Lastly, trees and mixed shrubs belts accompained both the wall of the eastern border and the northern one, including young and adult English oaks, elms, locusts, hackberries, cypress trees, spots of lilacs and yews and big ageing species of white hornbeam and field elm. The considerable variety of species and the permanence of old trees fosters the presence of titmouse, blackcap, blackbird, robin redbreast, woodpeckers and other birds of whom, in spite of the proximity to the roads and the railway, is possible to listen to their singings. The different bird species, but also the squirrels and other small animals, have been studied by the LIPU, which has also taken care of the placement of artificial nests and mangers.

The house, formerly known as Villa Fortunata, was built at the end of the 19th century by a representative of the rich family Raggio, from Genoa and bounded to sailing companies, construction sites and other entrepreneurial activities. Armando Raggio (1855-1918), who was mainly devoted to the international trade of coal and owned a furnace and several big farms in the area of Pontenure, bought 20 hectares of land from family Fantoni in 1881, including cultivated fields and some buildings, and he entrusted to the architect Luigi Rovelli, coming from Genoa, the planning and the realization of a summer noble residence, surrounded by a wide park. In 1882, the house of the former owners were demolished and the new house was built in a couple of years. In the following years, the property was expanded by means of new acquisitions and the design of the park was completed. Its design was of a romantic inspiration, with the creation of shady rows and corners for the stop and the implantation of new trees of particular ornamental value. Beside the buildings along the street on the east side of the house (barns and accommodations nowadays turned into residences), between 1889 and 1897, a greenhouse was built, in order to host the exotic plants of the garden during the winter. The greenhouse included both the masonry parts as well as porches e other iron and glass structures. The central part hosted a small family theater, whereas on either side there are the heated greenhouses, where a collection of orchids was even conserved; the ancillary external greenhouses were partly destined for the cultivation of the geraniums and the shortest ones were included openings to exploit the natural heat during favorable months. The design of the garden included female statues, a collection of big vases and a basin with water games close to the house; a small bridge with iron-work edges made possible to cross a stream (then covered in the second postwar period). Along the alleys, paved with white pebbles, there were benches and cast-iron street lights adorned with crests with initials AR. On the eastern side of the house, close to the service buildings, there was the tower-shaped ice-house, with a belvedere protected by an iron balustrade. In the first half of the 20th century, the house hosted celebrities including the duke of Aosta and the prince Umberto di Savoia. During the second world war, the house and the rural buildings were confiscated by the german army, but they were given back to family Raggio at the end of the conflict. In the following years the house was again location of events such as weddings and visits of celebrities of that age (including the former queen Elena). Towards the end of the 20th century, after some decades of abandonment, the house and the park became public properties. Then, the municipal administration took charge of the recovery of the building: the renovation work started in 1998 and in 2003 the house and the park were open to the public. The fine decorated rooms of the house became the main location of cultural events, exhibitions and conferences and, since 2009, the municipal library has been transfered in the building.
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Viale del Castello,
29020 Grazzano Visconti, PIacenza, Italy

Opening period
da Marzo a Dicembre

Opening period
from March to December

Opening days:
from Tuesday to Saturday
from 10.00 to 13.00
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