Lake Como is full of historical residences and people from Torno are really proud of having one of these prestigious dwellings in their village: Villa Pliniana. Severe and imposing the Villa was built in 1570 for the melancholic Count Giovanni Anguissola, in a gloom and ominous cove. Paolo Elia Sala, writer and poet from Torno (deceased 2000) describes the villa in his book “Storie e leggende tornasche e lariane” and says: “the walls of the villa, thick as in a fortress stand high directly on the lake whose depth they are firmly lodged on. From the surface to the ground floor in correspondence to the windows in the upper floors the façade shows a double row of openings which remind us of cannons mouths in the war vessels of that time.

And maybe the openings were really made not only for the ventilation but also with that secret purpose in mind. As above mentioned the building was popularly considered as a shelter villa. Anguissola was known in fact to believe himself hunted down by dark hatchet men. As a matter of fact he had animated the conspiracy during which Duke Pierluigi Farnese, one of Pope Paul III’s offspring, was murdered thirteen years before.” Among the renowned people who stopped in the Villa we find Napoleon, Joseph II of Austria, Prince Belgioioso and his wife Cristina, the Spallanzanis, Alexander Volta, Berchet, Stendhal, Giocacchino Rossini, Ugo Foscolo, Vincenzo Bellini.

In 1942 the film director Mario Soldati shot most of the scenes of “Malombra” (acting Isa Miranda) in the parks and the rooms of the Villa. The so called “Pliniana Valley” is of great historical and landscape interest. A steep and rushing torrent flows in the park. It becomes an intermittent spring (already known and studied by Pliny the Old and Pliny the Young) which both disappears and reappears three times a day. Villa Pliniana can be reached by lake and by land following the path from the Church of San Giovanni.


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