Situated on the summit of the Castagnola Point in Verbania Pallanza, Villa San Remigio dominates the whole of Lake Maggiore.
The garden, which covers a surface area of eight hectares, was conceived and created by a married couple of first cousins, the Marquis Silvio Della Valle di Casanova and Sofia Browne. He was a musician and a poet, she was a passionate artist and so, after marrying in 1896, they decided to realize their shared childhood dream of transforming the old chalet, built by their grandfather, Peter Browne, into a villa by skilfully re-shaping the park into something that became both the image and the refuge of their own feelings.
Broad garden terraces were created around the villa built in Neapolitan baroque style, where once the natural land had been steep and rocky. Beyond this, space was left for wide, open lawns surrounded by majestic, exotic plants. The woodland, whilst keeping its natural structure, was enriched with rare botanical varieties.
In this way, the park came to represent a kind of “history of gardens”, with the gardens in various styles (Italian, English, medieval, the wood, the orchard) running one into the other and blending to form an exceptionally harmonious whole.
It is feelings and emotions that are the true protagonists of the park: sadness in the garden of melancholy contrasts with the colour and movement of the garden of joy. There is a space for the hours gone by while, from the place dedicated to memories, the path leads to the garden of sighs. The broad spaces of the English-style garden are a counterpoint to more hidden places like the hortus conclusus or enclosed garden, where the atmosphere is more secluded both because of the intimacy of the space itself but also because of the presence of the ancient Romanesque oratory of San Remigio.
It is not always easy to understand the park of Villa San Remigio, nor is it easy to link it to the classical rules of architecture. The garden is, in fact, the result of an eclectic taste of Anglo-Italian origin, and of the creativity and personal feelings that its creators expressed so uniquely.
Villa San Remigio and its garden remained in the same family until 1977 when the whole property was ceded to the Region of Piedmont by Countess Ester della Valle Bonacossa, daughter of Silvia and Sofia. The Villa presently houses some regional offices. The maintenance of the park is entrusted to the Regional Forestry Service.
As a result of the tornado which hit the area of Verbano Cusio Ossola in 2012, the gardens of Villa San Remigio are at present inaccessible to the public.