Villa Verdi – Sant’Agata di Villanova sull’Arda

0523830000

Via Giuseppe Verdi, 22

29010 – Villanova Sull’arda (PC)

Villa Verdi is located in the Po plain on the border between Parma and Piacenza area, in the hamlet of Sant’Agata di Villanova sull’Arda. Giuseppe Verdi purchased it in 1848 together with its vast estate, and after personally overseeing its renovation and enlargement, he moved there in 1851 with his second wife, the soprano Giuseppina Strepponi.

“It would be impossible to find an uglier place than this – he ironically confessed in an 1858 letter to his friend, the Countess Clara Maffei – but on the other hand, it would be impossible for me to find a place where I could live more freely!” Villa Verdi became the great composer’s home, and he would live here for fifty years, save for his sojourns in Paris, his work-related trips, and the winters he spent in Genoa.

While living in Sant’Agata, Verdi expertly oversaw the management of its extensive farmland, and he composed many of his best known works (from the romantic trilogy of Rigoletto, Trovatore and Traviata to Otello and Falstaff). In a letter written in 1897 he said: “I wrote all my works, except for the earliest ones, in Sant’Agata, never deviating from my solitary and rural habits. Where I live, nothing can distract me. I restored myself by going out on my own onto my property and occupying myself with agriculture with the utmost pleasure”. Despite his vows of solitude, he actually hosted many friends in Sant’Agata.

The Villa, owned by the maestro’s heirs, is now partially open to the public. The visit begins on the ground floor and takes in – in addition to a collection of documents, photographs, and copies of Verdi’s operas – several rooms complete with original furniture. These include Giuseppina Strepponi’s bedroom and dressing room, the maestro’s studio, and furniture from the room at the Grand Hotel et de Milan where Verdi died on 27 January 1901.

The vast estate surrounding the villa also deserves a visit: Verdi designed it personally in accordance with scenic criteria that were fashionable at the time. He was responsible for buying trees and shrubs, many of them rare, and for building an ice-house, a grotto, and a man-made pond.