In Tuscany, just a few kilometers from Lucca and Capannori, in an open and sunny position, stunning period villa with stables and park. The villa features beautiful frescoed halls and late-Baroque decorations commissioned by the Mansi family, whose name is linked to the villa. All around the villa is a lush 40,000-sqm park with lakes, fountains and hedges. The ample spaces, both inside and outside, are perfect for events and ceremonies.
Lucca is one of the most notable art cities of Tuscany, still featuring intact walls to this day. This historic property is located in an open and sunny position not far from the most interesting cities of Tuscany (Pisa, Florence, San Gimignano, Siena…) and the sea of Versilia, with locations such as Viareggio, Forte dei Marmi and Marina di Pietrasanta.
The property is just a few kilometers from the A1 highway and just 10 km from the closest train station.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BUILDINGS
The period villa (2,112 sqm – 22,725 sqft, 8 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms) is laid over four floors organized as follows:
- Basement: old kitchens, guest reception, offices and sitting rooms;
- Ground floor: frescoed reception halls, living rooms, dining rooms and reading rooms;
- First floor: five bedrooms and five bathrooms;
- Second floor: three bedrooms and three bathrooms.
The property also includes other buildings, in particular the old stables (2,068 sqm – 22,252 sqft, on two floors), the farmer’s house (700 sqm – 7,532 sqft, on two floors) and a guard house on the eastern side of the complex (120 sqm – 1,291 sqft).
HISTORY, STATE AND FINISHES
The villa, before being bought by the Cenami family in 1599, had a simpler rectangular plan, with a huge hall in the center connected to secondary rooms on each side. Countess Felice Cenami tasked architect Muzio Oddi (born in Urbino) with the restoration of the villa between 1634 and 1635. The project led to the construction of the two avant-corps on the southern façade and the central portico with arches, all topped by a three-section loggia.
In 1675 the villa was bought by Ottavio Mansi for the impressive sum of 11,000 scudi. He immediately ordered a series of improvements to be applied to the villa. In the 1689 possession registry by Vincenzo Finucci the villa can still be seen in the form reached by Muzio Oddi, but there are the stables and the farmer’s house, probably work of Raffaello Mazzanti.
In the early 18th century the villa was further altered, this time by Gian Francesco Giusti on commission by Guido Ottavio Mansi. The villas took over its current look: the upper loggia was replaced by a new, more complex element and a balustrade with Mythological statues was added to the villa.
The interiors of the villa follow the late-18th-century iconography; the central hall was decorated by the neoclassical painter Stefano Tofanelli with works representing The Triumph of the Sun, Deeds of Apollo, The Judgment of Midas and The Death of Marsyas.
Further works in the 19th century didn’t touch the villa.
As for the stables, the building was not mentioned in the contract between Cenami and Mansi of 1675 (at the time, only the villa had been built). The building is however included in Finucci’s possession registry of 1689, which means that the stables must have been built between 1675 and 1689. The Baroque style of the building, together with the period of construction, points at a design by Raffaello Mazzanti, who was working at Villa Mansi right in those years.
The unusual trapezoidal shape of the building can be interpreted as an attempt at correcting an initial asymmetry, but it could well be a reasoned choice to allow an easier maneuvering of chariots in the central courtyard.
The connecting piece at the shorter side, named Palazzina dell’Orologio (literally ‘clock tower’), recalls the bell tower of the Palazzo Vaticano by Martino Ferrabosco. From sketches by Gian Francesco Giusti one can appreciate the original look of the complex which was unfortunately heavily altered in the 19th century when the tower was demolished and replaced by a crenelated balcony (following the neogothic revival of the early 19th century).
The farmer’s house can be dated back to the period 1675 – 1689 as well however with no details on who the designer was: inside the building there are a few decorations, such as the coat of arms in the washroom, that confirm it was the Mansi family who had the house built. As for the floor plans, the building has undergone no changes since its original inception.
The beautiful garden of Villa Mansi was landscaped over many years by several designers. When owned by the Benedetti family, the villa was a little more than a farm. It was only after 1599, when the property was bought by the Cenami, that the building was converted into a full-fledged villa.
The villa underwent a general reorganization with the Mansi. In the previously mentioned possession registry of 1689 there is a simple representation of what the park looked like in those years, with two clearly separated portions. To the west, there were the vegetable garden, the fruit orchard and the citrus grove, while on the opposite side there was a wood revolving around a central fountain, with walkways departing from the clearing. The style of the park bears the signature of Raffaello Mazzanti but it was most certainly a collaborative work carried out over several years.
In the early 18th century, by order of Ottavio Guido Mansi, the garden was fully reworked again, and the phases of this process can be seen in a series of sketches (starting from 1744) by Gian Francesco Giusti, complemented by a series of prints by Giuseppe Angeli.
On the southwestern side there was an Italian garden designed by Filippo Juvarra between 1725 and 1733. This area, symmetrically built around a central axis marked by two basins/fountains, features sinuous lines creating niches, exedras and roundabouts. The whole late-baroque implant was unfortunately erased in the 19th century, when the entire park was again reworked to adapt it to the new trend of the English park, leaving only feeble traces of the previous Baroque garden.
Nowadays, the garden covers a total surface of 41,250 square meters, landscaped into the already mentioned English garden with basins, fountains and walkways. Completing the outdoor spaces is then the citrus grove (1,180 sqm).
USE AND POTENTIAL USES
The villa, thanks to its ample surfaces, could be easily converted into a luxury boutique hotel for a demanding clientele looking for something really unique. At the same time, the huge and beautiful reception halls of the building would be the perfect background for business meetings, conventions and weddings. The beautiful park, given its mostly plain and tree-free nature, could work as an additional space for events and ceremonies together with the villa.
Alternatively, given the huge historic and artistic value of Villa Mansi, the property could be used as a representative seat for a prestigious company.