Villa Gattoni Cattaneo: historic home in Cornovecchio (Lodi)
The villa Gattoni Cattaneo of Cornovecchio was built by Pietro Maria Gattoni (1766 - 1851) in 1824, as shown by the parish states of mind which signal the presence of a "Palazzo Novo" in the "Corte dei Signori", an ancient farmhouse adjacent to the parish church partly demolished to build the new building.
Pietro Maria Gattoni had continued the activity of his father Carlo Giuseppe (1737 - 1820), who had made a fortune with the meat trade and had delicatessen shops in the parish of S. Nazzaro in Brolo in Milan. He had also bought the Cascinazza estate in Meleti (1779) and then the Cornovecchio estate (1804) in the Codogno district.
The villa has a classic French-style layout, with a central body surmounted by a turret (in the tympanum of the facade a cat is carved in relief, as a symbol of the Gattoni family) and two side wings, which served as a stable, storage for carriages, rustic and various warehouses as well as servants' homes. The garden in front of the house had mainly the function of accessing the carriages, while the actual garden was the rear, English and romantic style. Many trees were planted, according to the oral tradition of the family, before the construction of the house. In particular, the two huge plane trees of the rear garden were published in a volume of the Province of Lodi as the largest and oldest in the Lombardy Region.
Pietro Maria Gattoni had two sons: Carlo Giuseppe and Leopoldo to whom he inherited his properties of Meleti and Cornovecchio, by drawing lots. Therefore Leopoldo, second son, unexpectedly inherited the fund of Cornovecchio and the villa where he moved in 1851, after the death of his father, with his wife Clementina Lamberti di Codogno, widow of Giuseppe Folli di Codogno. Brother Carlo Giuseppe went to live in Meleti where he built his villa with a large park.
Leopoldo was an important farmer and merchant and an influential notable in the area. One of Clementina's first bed children, "Cecco" Folli, was a painter and friend of Gerolamo Induno, also a painter and patriot: they met during the defense of Rome in 1848.
It was Cecco Folli who presented Gerolamo Induno to his stepfather Leopoldo, who entrusted him with the task of frescoing and decorating the entrance hall of the villa opened towards the front garden, probably in 1852.
The three ovals facing the garden were frescoed by Induno himself: the central one is also signed and represents a hunter from the Alps of the Garibaldi army. The other ovals, with still lifes and landscapes and the ceiling decorations with beautiful parrots are the work of the his school.
Clementina Lamberti's other first-born son, Luigino Folli, was a friend of Felice Orsini, whom he had also known in the defense of Rome in 1848. Orsini came several times to Codogno, a guest of Folli's at the Vallicella farm and it is said that in the escape from the prison of Mantua was hidden on the via di Piacenza in the cellar in the house of Cornovecchio, as Leopoldo Gattoni did not arouse suspicion. Orsini went to London and then to Paris where he performed
the attack on Napoleon III, which went unsuccessful. Captured he was executed. Again by oral tradition, it is said that Leopoldo and Clementina fearing any repercussions closed their home in Cornovecchio and took refuge in the Piacenza area for six months. Leopoldo Gattoni had four children: Bortolo (1837-1906) who was mayor of Codogno for various
mandates, member of the Provincial Council and senator of the Kingdom of Italy, Carlo (1843-1898) who participated in the expedition of the "Mille", writing the diary "Campagna 1860" and was mayor of Cornovecchio, Antonietta (1835-1906) and " Lotti ”, who died at a young age.
Antonietta Gattoni married Gaetano Cattaneo (1822–1892), a notary in Codogno. The wedding was celebrated in 1854 in Cornovecchio, with the written authorization of Father Leopoldo in front of witnesses since the bride was still a minor at the time.
The Cattaneo family, originally from the Brembana Valley, settled in the mid-eighteenth century, for two generations, in Rognano (in the province of Pavia), where they managed to rent the Soncino farmhouse and the agricultural land. Upon the death of Angelo Maria Cattaneo in 700, the widow with 1808 young children moved to Milan, where some relatives already lived, including Carlo Cattaneo (head of the five days of Milan, economist, political scientist and publicist) and Gaetano Cattaneo, director of the Numismatic cabinet of Brera and promoter of an important Milanese cultural club
Two of Angelo Maria Cattaneo's sons moved to Codogno: first Carlo, accountant and administrator of public bodies, then Francesco (1790-1845), called to Codogno by his brother in 1820 to meet and marry Margherita Raglio, orphan of the leather merchant Gaetano Raglio. He took charge and developed the business of his father-in-law, who would later take the name of "Conceria Francesco Cattaneo", one of the most important of the Lodi area.
Gaetano Cattaneo, Francesco's son, was orphaned at the age of 7 and was followed by his uncle Carlo, a bachelor, who lived with them, both in law studies at the University of Pavia, and then in his professional, social integration and political. In fact, he became an established notary and married, as already mentioned, the young Antonietta Gattoni, one of the most beautiful parties in the area.
In 1861 he was elected mayor of Codogno: he was the first to hold this post after the unification of Italy and carried out two mandates dealing with the development of the city, and in particular with infrastructure.
In 1862 General Giuseppe Garibaldi visited Codogno for the first time, invited by the Marquis Giorgio Pallavicino of San Fiorano and made an official visit to the Municipality. Always on the recommendation of Pallavicino, Garibaldi chose the notary Cattaneo to draw up his will, then redone in 1867, during his second visit to Codogno. Other versions followed until 1880, accompanied by a dense correspondence of technical-legal suggestions from the notary.
The relationship between Garibaldi and Cattaneo was not only professional but also of friendship and esteem on a personal level, as evidenced by some letters from the General and his wife Francesca Armosino da Caprera, as well as the gifts or memories sent by Garibaldi after some battles or as photos of the Caprera house from the second half of the XNUMXth century.
After the death of Bortolo Gattoni in 1906, the villa and the estate of Cornovecchio were inherited by his sister Antonietta. The latter, after a long illness spent on the Ligurian Riviera, died in the same year and left the property to the children of the notary Gaetano Cattaneo.
It was Francesco, with his wife Carmela Zazzera, who took over the shares of the villa and the fund inherited from the brothers with the profits deriving from the activity of the company Antonio Zazzera, Prima Latteria Italiana, and to settle in the house in Cornovecchio.
A third period of "splendor" opened for the villa: in fact in those years the windows were made that close the three arches of access to the atrium frescoed by Induno and the mosaic floors of the atrium itself, of the study and of the corridor, as well as other works.
Francesco and Carmela lived mainly in Codogno in the Palazzo Zazzera in via Garibaldi, but they spent long summer periods and often from spring to autumn in Cornovecchio.
This tradition was maintained even when the four children became adults and two of them married: Antonio with Anna Biancardi and Gaetano with Luisa Biancardi (first cousins), while Leopoldo and Giuseppina did not marry.
Particularly in the month of September until the beginning of the schools, the Cornovecchio house was the center of life for the whole family.
With the disappearance of the four Cattaneo brothers, the subsequent inheritances and divisions led to the current situation of ownership of the villa of Cornovecchio, divided between the cousins Francesco and Serafino Cattaneo.
Staying in the Villa's guesthouse:
There are three apartments, for a total of 15 beds, which are rented from June to September as a holiday home. It is possible to book for minimum stays of one week.
Guests will have one pool (on the porch of the old barn), gym it's a game room.
Bicycle rental for excursions to the nearby cycle paths