The Liberty style in Piedmont

Really close to Turin, the Villaggio Leumann in Collegno is one of the main examples of industrial archeology in Italy and it is the result of the philanthropy of Napoleone Leumann, the Swiss entrepreneur. While visiting the complex of the former factory where cotton was processed and the working-class neighborhood (which is still inhabited), with cottages resembling Swiss chalets, the school, the station and the church, you have the impression of going back to the years in which it was built, between 1876 and 1907, by the architect Pietro Fenoglio.

Between the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century, the Liberty style characterized the green oases not far from the city where the middle class used to retreat. Nowadays, examples of the Art Nouveau can be found in villas and small palaces from Rivoli to Chivasso, from Ciriè to Venaria and to the Valli di Lanzo, from the Pinerolese to the Canavese, an area where this art is particularly

present: we can mention Villa Roletti and the historic patisserie Pasticceria Roletti 1896 in San Germano Canavese, the buildings in the 

center of Caluso, capital of the wine Erbaluce DOCG (Designation of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin), Pont Canavese with the buildings 

of the most important textile factory of the Regno di Sardegna which are home to the textile museum Museo della Manifattura Tessile

the collection of textile machines of Cav. Modesto Sandretto, and the plastic museum Museo della Plastica, one of the most important in Italy.

In AstiPalazzo Gastaldi is a perfect example of the Liberty style, built on a project of Carlo Bensi in 1898 for Luigi Gastaldi, a banker and a well-known member of the industrial middle class of Asti. Inside the building, a turned banister with vegetal decorations leads to the upper floors, home to the Consorzio per la Tutela dell’Asti D.O.C.G. The trail inside the Cemetery is also worth-visiting, it goes through sculptures and monuments by Contratti, Giribaldi, Bistolfi. In Canelli you will be surprised by the many Liberty-style buildings of the center to visit together with the historic Cattedrali Sotterranee, part of the UNESCO heritage.

Near Alessandria, in Ovada, Villa Gabrieli is characterized by sober Liberty-style elements. It was built by the architect coming from Ovada Michele Oddini between 1910 and 1913 in the big park which is now open to visitors, listed among the historic gardens of Piedmont for the variety of rare species of trees from all over the world. In Serravalle Scrivia, Villa Bollina, a Liberty-style residence located on the hills of the Gavi which belonged to a noble family from Genova, today it has become a charme hotel in the park of the
Serravalle Golf Club. In Casale Monferrato there are many important examples of Liberty: the Chiosco in Castello square, the market Mercato Pavia, where the antique market takes place, the shooting gallery and the friezes which adorn the doors of some buildings. In the museum Museo Civico, in the section where the collection of plaster casts Gipsoteca Bistolfi is kept, you can discover the works of one of the protagonists of the Italian Liberty.

In Biella, many private residences, today partly remodeled, reveal the local cultural élite’s predilection for the Liberty style, with a splendid building not far from the city, in Sordevolo: Villa Cernigliaro, built in the 1880s and listed among the historic residences of Piedmont. In Novara, a lot of buildings overlooking the central streets are examples of the success obtained by the floral style: Casa

Rosina overlooking the Baluardo Quintino Sella, Casa Fiorentini, with Casa Francioni, Villa Capel Badino (between the Liberty style and the Decò style), Casa Ottina, Casa Bottacchi, Casa Della Piana and Casa Zegna.

In Cuneo, the capital of the Provincia Granda with an historic agricultural tradition, the Liberty style characterizes a triangular area between Viale degli Angeli, Via Peano and Corso Nizza, built after the city expansion of the first decade of 1900. In this area there are also Palazzina Streri (1907) and Palazzo Sociale, but Palazzina Galliano is the most eye-catching one; it was named after the architect who built it between 1911 and 1912 and it is a pink building with a rounded angular façade characterized by a double row of balconies connected by small pillars and an elevated circular turret. Villa Vacchetta, located in Caraglio, is one of the examples of the Liberty style in the province and it was built on the project of the architect of the same name in 1910. Roccavione, in Val Vermenagna, is one of the most popular summer destinations where you can still visit a group of Liberty-style private villas.

In the Verbano-Cusio-Ossola province, arabesques and volutes decorated with leaf patterns intertwine in the shelters and inside the railway stations of Arona, Stresa, Baveno, and characterize the landing stages in Meina and Stresa, Baveno, Intra, Ghiffa, Oggebbio, Cannero and Cannobio. In Stresa, the luxurious interior of the Regina Palace Hotel and of the Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromées recalls the euphoric period of the Liberty style and the aristocratic and cosmopolitan world of the Belle Époque, whose protagonists loved to stay in these hotels: a triumph of curved lines and bright windows which reflect the cascade of light coming from huge chandeliers. From Arona to Verbania, the floral style was the inspiration to decorate most of the villas overlooking the Lake Maggiore, among which Villa Galimberti Bernocchi, still in Stresa, and Villa Carosio in Baveno, both by Giuseppe Sommaruga, one of the most important Liberty-style architects in Italy.

Valsesia Vercelli
In Varallo you can still visit elegant Liberty-style residences overlooking the main street – Corso Roma – and the nearby streets which recall the big tourism boom during the Belle Époque. Villa Virginia (1890) and Villa Barbara (1883) are particularly beautiful and nowadays they are home to public offices. In Forbello, you can find Villa Musy (1901), located in the splendid park Parco dell’Alta Valsesia and named after the family of jewelers and suppliers of the Real Casa Savoia for which it was built; Villa Lancia, which is located in the village Montà and which has long been the residence of the Lancia automotive dynasty coming from Fobello; and Villa Lanza, home to the Museo Lancia. At a higher altitude, in Alagna, the typical Walser architectural style harmoniously combines with examples of the Art Nouveau which date back to the beginning of the XX century such as Villa Grober, built in the Alpine Liberty style, and Casa Smitt, characterized by splendid verandas with flowers.