Villa Reale of Marlia in Capannori
La Villa Marlia (XVII century), surrounded by high walls that seem to protect it from passing time, rises to LuccaIn the heart of Tuscany., in a privileged position at the foot of the Pizzorne plateau. Considered one of the most important historical residences of Italy, in the nineteenth century it was the residence of Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi, sister of Napoleon and Princess of Lucca.
In the place where today stands Villa Reale, in the early Middle Ages, there was a palace of the Dukes of Tuscia. When the property passed to the noble Buonvisi, a Lucchese family of merchants and bankers, the old building had already been transformed into a two-story stately home. The characteristic that distinguished it from the other surrounding was its grandeur, with beautiful gardens and fountains to surround it.
In 1651 Lelio and Oliviero Orsetti bought the property Buonvisi raising the new Villa, several times enlarged, after having demolished a large part of the building purchased. The great transformation project ended with the construction of a building in style late Renaissance which dominated the large lawn in front of it. There Villa Orsetti, which had become a compact rectangular shape, was marked by the ashlar on the corners, while the façade in the valley was characterized by a terrace above the entrance portal.
During the Napoleonic period, Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi bought the property in 1806. From this moment on, the Villa became “Royal”, with the title of Elisa queen of Etruria. She too did not want to miss the opportunity to make changes to the building and entrusted the transformation to the architects Pierre-Théodore Bienaimé and subsequently to Giuseppe Marchelli, who respected the cubature of the building, but changed the face of the house: the eighteenth-century lines of the Palazzo Orsetti, of which the attic floor was raised and an attic service level built from scratch, to obtain three floors of equal height, divided by double frames. Outside, on the north facade, a portico was placed and an Italian terrace was built. On the ground floor the windows of the building were replaced with doors almost simulating a continuous loggia in place of the windows of the ancient Villa Orsetti.
To date, the new owners are bringing the Villa back to its former glory in collaboration with the Superintendency, which follows the restoration work with great care.
The story of Villa Reale di Marlia
The visit to the Park of Villa Reale gives the surprise to immerse yourself in an ancient past that has its roots in the Middle Ages. It is from this period that the extraordinary story of the Villa Reale begins, the result of a series of transformations that took place over the centuries thanks to famous people and royal dynasties.
During the Early Middle Ages, the structure was inhabited by the Duke of Tuscia; later the property passed to the Buonvisi nobles, a Lucchese family of merchants and bankers who transformed the fortress into a noble palace. The historic residence was then purchased in 1651 by Olivieri and Lelio Orsetti who made changes to the Villa and gave the Park a new Baroque style arrangement with the creation of courtyards, paths and scenic gardens such as the Teatro di Verzura and the Giardino dei Limoni. The two nobles from Lucca were also responsible for the construction of the elegant Palazzina dell'Orologio, dedicated to hosting the rooms of the farm and the stable. During the Napoleonic period, Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi bought the property in 1806, thus transforming it into the “Royal Villa”: home of the queen of Etruria. To her we owe the major interventions that transformed the structure of the palace and the gardens. The neighboring Villa del Vescovo was annexed to the complex and the facades of the ancient Palazzo Orsetti acquired a neoclassical style. The park was also partially redesigned according to the eighteenth-century fashion of the English garden and was also embellished with statues and vases made with the precious white marble of the Eugeniana di Carrara Academy. After the fall of Napoleon, the Royal Villa passed to Carlo Ludovico di Borbone and in the second half of the nineteenth century the period residence became the property of the King of Italy Vittorio Emanuele II, who decided to sell it to Penelope Carolina, widow of Charles of Bourbon prince of Capua. The princess, together with her two children, spent several years in the Royal residence made available to them. When Penelope Carolina died in 1882, the Marlia complex remained with her two children, Vittoria Augusta and Francesco Carlo, whose mental illness brought him the nickname of "Mad Prince". On the death of Vittoria, the Villa Reale complex was put up for sale and the movable property was auctioned, while many trees in the park were cut down to produce timber.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Il Conte and the Countess Pecci-Blunt fell madly in love and bought the property in the 1923. The following year they commissioned the famous French architect Jacques Greber to restore the Park with the aim of combining tradition and innovation. The romantic framework of the park was thus enriched with woods, streams, a lake and bucolic elements.
In addition to the noble owners, in the historic residence they found the ideal size, in an unrepeatable climate at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, famous personalities such as violinist and composer Paganini, who used to play his famous instrument for Elisa Baciocchi in the context of the Theater of Verzura, and the American artist John Singer Sargent, who delighted in painting and interpreting the most evocative glimpses of the Park.
Opening of the first restored rooms of the Villa
from Monday 5 August 2019 it is possible to visit the first restored rooms of the Villa which belonged to Princess Elisa Baciocchi, sister of Napoleon.
An ambitious goal achieved with commitment and determination by the new owners, which will offer everyone the opportunity to admire the wonderful empire-style interiors.
Cafè Villa Reale
The recent opening of the new Café Villa Reale - the result of the restoration of the early twentieth century play pavilion - offers the opportunity to relax inside the gardens: visitors will find refreshment with cool drinks and tasty morsels in a simply unique setting.
Services: exclusive events locations in Tuscany
Prices for private events and weddings to be agreed
Opening hours for visits
The Villa and the Clock Building can be visited from 10:30 am to 17:30 pm (last entrance for the interiors at 17:00 pm) eliminating the cost of the supplement
Last admission 1 hour before closing time.
Online reservations www.villarealedimarlia.it