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History & Press Articles about the villa

Villa Castelli has a rich and varied past and is a very important part of Italian history. The Castelli Family was one of the most important families of Menaggio’s past, owning the Castillo at the top of the hill and the villa at the bottom. The two buildings are connected by a secret underground passage that went from the Hamlet of Castello to the Palazzo and down to the Fortezza by the lake and marina.  They still exist today but are no longer in use.  


Life Magazine: 

One of the more infamous moments occurred near the end of the second world war when Mussolini, trying to escape pursuit by the allied forces, stopped to rest at the villa on his way to the Swiss border.  When he reached the border, he was turned away by the Swiss authorities and returned to the Villa Castelli for the night.  In studying the villa, it seems most likely that he slept in this part of the property.  Mussolini was captured the next day when partisans stopped the group and recognised part of his entourage.  Two days later he was executed in the town of Dongo.  The last four days of Mussolini's life, including his days at Villa Castelli,  have been captured in this article published in Life magazine on Jan 12, 1948


Download a pdf of the full article here

1943-1945 on the Lake:

All around the lake one can find a history of events leading up to and including the capture of Mussolini and his entourage.  both at the base of the Villa and just around the corner, one will find placards sharing these events.  Below is one that also alludes to Mussolini's time in both Menaggio and Villa Castelli.

L'Esprit Déco:

The villa underwent a full refurbishment between 2015-2017.  As part of that refurbishment, the current owners transformed the apartment into that which you see today.  The interior were designed by owner Linda Allen ( and all the furniture was sourced by her from all across Europe (mostly from markets in London, Paris and Milan).  


The hand-pained frescos in the great room and kitchen were re-instated over a four month period by local artists Sara Ortelli and Daniela Traverso.

All of this work and talent caught the eye of an editor from the magazine Esprit Déco and the villa was shot for their January 2019 issue.  This article and more can be found at and a pdf of the article can be downloaded here

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