Milan park judged “Italy’s most beautiful”

Runner-up also in Lombardy.

The famous public gardens of Villa Litta in Milan’s suburb of Lainate has been awarded first prize in the 14th annual competition to discover the country’s most splendid parks, public and private.

In the private category, another top winner for Lombardy is Villa Melzi d’Eril in Bellagio, on the shores of Lake Como.

These “jewels of nature”, as the scientific jury called them, are the front runners selected from among over 1,000 around the peninsula. Both are within easy reach of Milan, and could both be visited in a single weekend, the jury pointed out.

Lying just 70 km from the regional capital, Villa Borromeo Visconti Litta, to use its full title, is a “cultural and botanical pole” restored to its late 16th-century charm by Lainate town council, along with voluntary organisations. Its 800 m long shaded walkway, created for gentlefolk to relax in the heat of summer, is the longest of its kind in Europe.

Villa Litta also boasts an 18th-century fountain with eight statues of classical gods, 56 different species of trees and a nymphaeum decorated with mosaics, stucchi and fountains

Villa Melzi was created in the early years of the 19th century for Francesco Melzi d’Eril, a deputy president of the republic under Napoleon. The neoclassical gardens are dotted with classical statuary and ancient and exotic trees and plants, as well as a lake.

Among the illustrious visitors to Villa Melzi were composer Franz Liszt and writer Stendhal. A considerable part of the gardens are open to the public. Entry costs €6.

Debating their decision, the jury took into account the historical, artistic and botanical points of interest, the state of conservation, management and conservation policies, availability of public services such as toilets, and relations with the public and tourists. “Villa” in Italian refers not only to a building but also to its surrounding gardens.