I saw the film “I Am Love” when it came out in 2009. And though I appreciated—dare I say “loved”—the visual style of it, the movie itself left me a little cold. And yet…and yet…there was something about it that has stayed with me since. The fact is that the film, even as it struggles to tell an unlikely love story between a man and a woman (played by Tilda Swinton), is itself a love letter to the city of Milan and, most passionately, to one architectural site in particular, the Villa Necchi Campiglio. I’ve always wanted to see the Villa, and this past weekend, I finally did.
If you are ever in Milan, you must go see it (Via Mozart 14). It is the most unusual combination of styles and feelings. It is elegant, grand, and spacious, while at the same time, cozy, lived-in and inviting. It fascinates rather than intimidates. And it all happens against a backdrop of rationalism, art deco, and “random (decorative) acts” of classicism and antiquity. The structure is calming, as opposed to cold. And the place is flooded with the most stunning light and quiet…right here, in the middle of the city.
Most touching perhaps is the degree to which the house yearns to tell its story. Every corner feels like a life lived. And in true Italian fashion, it is spectacularly open for your exploration. There are the occasional velvet cords to prevent passage, but surprisingly few, and not once did I see or hear the words “do not touch.” Nothing shines with renovation or replacement. Instead, it all languishes a bit in the passage of time. Chairs seem to have been recently sat upon. And books breathe quietly on the shelves waiting.
A google of the property will show you many more images than I have here. But I was taken with smaller details, as opposed to spaces, and that’s what I’ve tried to share with you here.