Palace Usellini

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Palazzo Usellini is located in the historic center of the municipality of Arona, a small city located on the western shore of Lake Maggiore. Its street, Via Pertossi, is an ancient road that leads down to what was once Arona’s port, is a slightly uphill road to Via San Carlo.
Our home, located in Via Pertossi is bordered at the top of Via Pertossi by the Convent of the Visitation and the bottom by S.Marta lane, which separates it from the homonymous Church and which can be accessed from our home directly, without passing through the square.
The building complex, dated 1530, and still owned by our family, consists of a main body facing onto Via Pertossi and overlooking the Italian-style garden from a large portico with terrace, and two inner buildings dated 1783, one of which is particularly eleganct.
The main body includes the ground floor entrance hall from which gives access to 3 different rooms and, through a short hallway, the courtyard with the sixteenth-century U-shaped portico. The Principal Room has a vaulted ceiling painted with floral decorations, cherubs, mermaids and landscapes inspired by the seasons. The fresco is in perfect condition and can be dated back to the time Carlantonio Usellini bought the building. Thus around 1783. The Caminone Room is so named for the presence of a large corner fireplace, part of the old kitchen but now destined to the living room. All existing furniture is original to the house.
The apartments on the 1st and 2nd floors are reached by a wide staircase, but are of no particular artistic interest apart from the fine furniture, original to the house.
Above the roof of the building is built the “tower” once used as “Uccellanda” (covert for the birds), which offers a beautiful view of Lake Maggiore and the Borromeo Castle of Angera.
The two other interior buildings called “stalled” and “Casacce” formed until the end of the 1800s the stables and ballroom. While the “stalled” was recently restored the “Casacce”, although consolidated in the structure and roofing, needs a lot of renovation both inside and outside.
The dates 1783 and 1530 refer to the 1783 acquisition by Carlantonio Usellini (1743-1816), a wealthy merchant who made his fortune in the Netherlands where he had a thriving business, and the existing original building (1530) that he expanded while maintaining the original sixteenth-century structure with its porch and spacious terraces, but renovating, it seems on projects of an unknown Dutch architect, the facade in rococo style, and the building, in the Italian garden, of an elegant building that forms a background to garden itself. The result is a harmonious whole, perfectly placed between the Church and the Convent.
The unique U-shape of the inner porch allows the use of this space, which has perfect acoustics, for cultural and musical entertainment.

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The building called Palazzo Usellini is located in the historic center of Arona, a town on the shores of Lake Maggiore. The building was purchased in 1783 by Carlantonio Usellini (1743-1816), a wealthy merchant who had made his fortune in the Netherlands where he had a thriving business.
According to family lore, our family is originally from Corciago, a small village of the Vergante area. We have been able to trace our line back to Lorenzo Usellini (1636 – 1710) who was baptized in the village church. In 1761 a descendant of Lorenzo’s, possibly his grandson, Carlantonio Usellini, aged 18, left Italy and settled in Amsterdam where he started a business that became so profitable that he was able to retire on reaching 50 years of age, selling his business on highly advantageous terms. Back in Italy he acquired the already existing sixteenth century building which he expanded. He maintained the original sixteenth-century structure but renovated the facade in the Rococo style, it would seem to the plans of an unknown Dutch architect, and building in the Italian garden an elegant building that forms a backdrop to the garden itself. Today the original window-paned windows have disappeared from the façade, having been replaced by single paned windows and shutters. However inside there are still several windows with square inset panes and windows that slide up and down in the typical Dutch style.
During the first war of independence, following the armistice of Novara (1849) and abdication of King Carlo Alberto of Savoy, the Piedmont shores were occupied, albeit for a short period, by Austrian troops, and the son of Carlantonio, Filippo Usellini, at that time Mayor of Arona, was forced to cede part of his home to Austrian officials.
On the death of Filippo Usellini, and with the abolition of primogeniture that occurred with the unification of Italy (1861), the Arona home was inherited by Lorenzo Usellini who, however, moved with his family to Milan, and, on his death (1925), to his six sons. Used as a holiday home until 1940, it then, because of the British bombing of Milan, became a refuge for the family who remained there for the duration of World War II. Even Gianfilippo Usellini (1904 -1971), one of the most representative painters of the Italian 1900s lived there during the war, his drawings inspired by the timeless, almost monastic atmosphere and characterizing the abode of Arona.
After the armistice of 8 September 1943, one of the darkest periods in Italian history began. The Lake Maggiore territory was occupied by German troops, including a SS division that immediately began a series of raids on the Jews, many of whom were largely displaced from Milan, culminating in the massacre of Meina and Baveno, two towns on the Piedmont side of Lake Maggiore.
The well-known writer and theatre critic Sabatino Lopez, of Safardita Jewish origin, found refuge in our house for a few weeks after the arrival of the Germans, and with the help of Gianfilippo Usellini’s friends he escaped to Switzerland, just in time as, a few days after he left a team of SS surrounded the buildings, gathered us all into one room and searched all the apartments from cellar to attic without finding anything.
Currently, part of Palazzo Usellini is inhabited permanently by family members and part is our holiday home. The building also provides a home for cultural activities of various kinds. For many years, in summer, it hosts concerts of the Lake Maggiore Music Festival that take place on both shores of Lake Maggiore and in places of art.

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Palace Usellini

Region : Piedmont

Province : NO

City : Arona

Address : Via Pertossi, 14

ZIP Code : 28041

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