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Villa Panza: Ancient Home of Contemporary Art

Perched on top of Biumo Hill, overlooking the city of Varese, an 18th century mansion is home to a 20th century American art collection. Discover the eclectic charm of Villa Panza and the story behind an ancient noble house transformed into a contemporary art gallery.

Donated to FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano – by Giuseppe and Giovanna Panza in 1996, Villa Panza is today a worldwide known center for contemporary art. Dating back to the 18th century, the mansion was formerly the country residence of Marquis Paolo Antonio Menafoglio, who decided to establish his noble villa on the fringes of Varese to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Biumo Hill.

Following Menafoglio’s death, the property was acquired by Duke Pompeo Litta Visconti Arese and after a few years it was acquired by the Panza family. Count Ernesto Panza di Biumo commissioned the villa’s restoration to one of the icons of Italian architecture: Piero Portaluppi. The architect extended the Villa with a new courtyard and a vast park entirely redesigned in the English style. With two extraordinary flower gardens, a lake and a classical temple.

In the 1970s Giuseppe Panza emptied and restored the old stables and warehouses in order to host its unique art collection, featuring installations designed specifically for these areas. When, in 1996, Giuseppe and Giovanna Panza donated the Villa to FAI, their wish was to preserve both their home and their vast art collection, to share their treasured heritage with future generations.

Today Villa Panza is characterized by a U-shaped structure, typical of that historical period, and surrounded by a well-manicured garden. The subtle design of the building seems to be the perfect wrap for the absolute extravagance of the sumptuous interiors and the contemporary art collection that the guest can enjoy.

More than 150 art pieces are included in the Panza Collection, all by American contemporary artist. One of the wings of the building houses an amazing gallery of site-specific environmental artworks. The villa itself is a historic work of art, characterized by stunning neo-classical elements, elegant decorations and Renaissance furnishings harmoniously coexisting with the art collection.

The exterior offers stunning glimpses of the surrounding nature, and the passing of time has imbued the garden with a cohesive sense of harmony. Taking as their starting point the court of honor of the main building, many small spots characterize the outdoor area: stunning tunnels of hornbeams, arches and monumental trees contributes to add charm to this noble mansion.

Villa Panza


Piazza Litta, 1 - 21100 Varese (VA)

+39 0332 283960

The Collection