Still today, visiting Grazzano Visconti Village, means walking among the streets of a fantasy city, originated by an utopic dream of a man, Duke Giuseppe Visconti di Modrone (1879 – 1941).
No distortion of history or imitation, but a true creation of a perfect location where the advantages of modern life combined themselves with those of the Medieval age, which the Duke considered one of the best moments in history. In fact, in Medieval villages, thanks to the protection and illuminated vision of an enlightened Lord, the inhabitants could safely dedicate themselves to cultivating the land and craftsmanship, which are the real expression of the human nature and creativity.
Duke Giuseppe’s dream was shared by many intellectuals of that time, especially in England and in other industrialized countries. They supported the Arts and Crafts artistic movement, which considered craftsmanship as an expression of human labour and creativity, as opposed to mass industrial production, that often meant low quality products. This movement influenced the architecture of Grazzano Visconti, which is built in authentic neomedieval style.
The Village was entirely designed by Duke Giuseppe with the cooperation of Architect Campanini. It develops around the Castle in “U” shape. It was designed so that the inhabitants could have all the facilities and advantages of modern life, but at the same time could study and work and express their creativity through arts and crafts, like in Medieval times.
For this reason, besides private homes, in Grazzano Visconti village you can find many buildings dedicated to the teaching of all the skills necessary for living a quiet and dignified life. There are a nursery school, a professional training school for young adults, a theatre, the Giuseppe Visconti Institution where managers of Carlo Erba – one of the most advanced pharmaceutical companies of the time – gave free lessons regarding hygiene and advanced farming techniques. Many charitable activities supported by the duke, like the missions to help fight malaria started right from here.
The crafts made of wood and wrought-iron were in fashion and very appreciated for a long time, to the point that we still refer to a Grazzano style. But Duke Giuseppe also realized that Grazzano Visconti would become a great touristic attraction. For this reason, already in his time he had a hotel and restaurants built for the visitors. He also created everything that could be useful so that the inhabitants and the visitors could immerse themselves into a timeless atmosphere; like the typical clothing that can still be admired on the postcards and pictures dating back to the Duke’s time.