The charm of the banks of Lake Maggiore was well known before the construction of the villas and gardens which have altered their appearance in the second half of the nineteenth century, the Grand Tour in fact already had already established a picturesque and romantic image of the lake, appreciated for the natural and environmental aspects of its garden islands, and praised in Italy and abroad, thanks to the numerous works of fiction, almost a literary invention transformed into geographical, scenic, cultural and pictorial reality.
It is in the forming of the many villas and gardens of the lake that we find a cultural space and scenic value.
The landscape changes in relation to the historical and cultural conditions of the period and the growing phenomenon of settlement of the villa and garden for holidays.
The romantic idea of the holiday, the presence of an intense sociabilité that takes place between a villa and the other coincides with the transformation caused by human activities on the natural components of the landscape and determines the patterns and styles to be found today.
Description of the park
The structure and form that the lakeside landscape takes and that the villa takes on in the structural and settlement characteristics, and its social and worldly valence, become an expression of the value of a cultural landscape, which is rooted in the relationship between the villa and the garden.
The villa shows a preference for the logic of the panoramic views towards the lake, which is guaranteed by the construction of terraced gardens that follow the coastline and that comply to the orographic and morphological characters of the slopes, giving origin to atypical example of a continuum of settlement.
Also the garden of Villa Poggio Castello “Pellegrini” is part of a landscape of great importance, and as it is situated in a hilly area overlooking Lake Maggiore, it belongs to an area with a strong panoramic value, acquiring the image of place of symbolic and naturalistic interest.
The garden has its own aesthetics which, regard to its formal aspect, summarizes the aesthetic concepts that the art of gardening goes through in that century.
Although today it looks like a neglected park and almost woodland, actually it refers conceptually to the classical forms of the Italian garden.
The revival of the Italian formal garden, popular first in Great Britain in the years between 1840 and 1850, then became a frequent revival in the rest of Europe.
This fashion proposed an organized garden with layered terraces, steps, paths and panoramic points from which to observe not only the landscape but also the layout of the garden.
In the garden of Villa Castello one can recognize the traditional features of the Italian garden of the sixteenth century adapted to the eclectic taste of the beginning of the century, with the use of terraces, balustrades, statues, fountains, a system of small balconies, steps and pathways that favour the relationship with the surrounding landscape and panorama function of perspective views.
In evidence there are also remnants and traces of some architectural elements of relief:
– the pink marble of Baveno columns characterize “the romantic archaeological walk” on the south-east of Villa Pellegrini Castle;
– three small caves in rocaille, placed in strategic places (one at the main entrance driveway, one at the entrance of the footpath and one on the terraced viewpoint below the villa). The caves, typical of the sixteenth century European villas, had inside statues of figures from the Greek mythology (Pan playing the syringe, Actaeon the mythological satyr figure).
Only one statue, representing the satyr, is preserved in its original location, in the nymphaeum of the terraced viewpoint below the villa;
– a system of steps and panoramic view points with benches for a contemplative rest;
– remains of concrete foundations for the placement of statues and vases and two obelisks which introduce the steps that start the footpath leading to the villa.
Also water finds space and identity within this garden and is directed to create a visual and sound effect through a system of small “streams” that depart and arrive from the slopes to the valley.
The plant species show a prevalence of ornamental trees such as libocedri, limes, various conifers, magnolias, palms, camphor, tulip trees and patches of acidophilic such as hydrangeas, azaleas and camellias, typical essences of the twentieth-century garden.