Outside Naples. Discover Villa Bruno, an oasis of culture in San Giorgio a Cremano

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A few steps from the city of Naples, a place of culture with great charm. Not only a old villa belonging to the so-called Golden Mile (Miglio d’oro in italian), but also a library, a newspapers library, a theater, a real cultural cluster for the whole town of San Giorgio a Cremano (NA).

This place can be considered one of the most important cultural centers of the Vesuvian area of Naples, over time has undergone several interventions of restoration and recovery of the different environments that have made the structure more functional and adequate to the role of “Palace of culture”.



A (brief) history of the place

As already mentioned, this villa belongs to the group of 121 villas of the so-called Golden Mile, that Tyrrhenian portion located between Vesuvius and the sea where these small wonders of architecture have been recorded.

Villa Bruno in particular, built between the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century, belonged initially to the noble family Monteleone, and was later sold to the family Lieto.


During the period when the Lieto family were the owners of the building, they often had illustrious guests for moments of leisure or vacation, doctors, magistrates, jurists, and men of the church including Cardinal Luigi Ruffo Scilla, archbishop of Naples at the beginning of the nineteenth century. 

The history of the villa merged with that of the Italian steel industry (or Duosicilian, given the time) when from 1816 it housed the important foundry Righetti, which also happened the fusion of the historic horses of the two monumental statues depicting Charles of Bourbon and Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies, and placed in Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples from 1829.


In the foundries there was also the fusion of the bronze monument to Pulcinella (a classic character who originated in the 17th century commedia dell’arte and became a repertoire character in the Neapolitan marionette), which now adorns the main courtyard of the Villa. Francesco Righetti, the trusted founder of the sculptor Antonio Canova, who was the commissioner of the two sculptures, headed the company. The artist spent a lot of time in Naples during the realization of the two works, and thanks to his influence he managed to locate the industrial plant in San Giorgio despite the protests of the many nobles who lived nearby.

The reason why Righetti chose San Giorgio to build the foundry is probably linked to the collaboration with the Marquis Cerio who, a great admirer of Canova, interceded favourably to allow Righetti to establish the structure at Villa Bruno notwithstanding the strong protests of the neighbouring nobles.



The environment and architectural space

The main structure has a neoclassical appearance, and maintains overall the original form of the project. The influence of Neapolitan Baroque is visible in the rear prospectus, which still preserves the large lowered arch and the corresponding main balcony without the ornaments that connected it to the opening below.

This balcony, together with the large terraces to lookout, remember the precise will of the builders, to enjoy the natural beauty that the Vesuvian scenery offered, a characteristic that is visible in all the monumental villas of the place.

From the entrance portal you can clearly see the door that frames, in a desired perspective, the niche at the bottom of the estate. This scenographic effect is rendered by the coincidence of the main axis of the architectural plan with the perspective one that begins with the atrium and the subsequent passing vestibule and ends with the final baroque aedicule.

The interior of the villa, on the other hand, as can be seen from the main floor, still preserves intact the rococo doors and the nineteenth-century decorations used to reproduce nature outside even in the halls inside the building.

The villa is a single body with several entrances, near which there are two medallions, each framing a bronze horse’s head, placed in memory of the merger of the monumental horses of Piazza del Plebiscito, the name of the street also recalls this event, we are in fact in Via Cavalli di Bronzo.

Once in the inner courtyard you enter an atrium open from two sides, which connects the garden of the villa. On the right side of the atrium you enter the grand staircase leading to the upper floors.

On the ceiling of this atrium there is a fresco of the noble coat of arms of one of the owner families, of a still unknown nature (the crown on the coat of arms seems to indicate a ducal family).

The luminous path of the park, which emerges distinctly from behind the atrium, was furnished with stone seats placed on both sides that alternate, for over two hundred meters, with bases of statues and vases. This is the entrance to the monumental garden, a must in this type of structure.

Inside the garden there was originally an iron and glass greenhouse and a semicircular exedra with statues that today have been replaced with an open-air arena that hosts various events sponsored by the City of San Giorgio a Cremano, the current owner of the villa.

Some of the statues that once studded the park and that date back to the nineteenth-century history of the villa are still present, inserted in the green, while the so called “Bust of Jupiter”, the oldest greek-roman statue of the villa, is placed on a pedestal in the main vestibule.

The inner courtyard is paved with large piperno slabs, and in the center there is a bronze monument to Pulcinella. On the right side of the courtyard you can see the openings of the old stables, while on the left you enter through a porch inside the complex of foundries. Both places now host cultural events.

Il giardino è percorso in tutta la sua lunghezza da un viale pavimentato in tufo, che si dirige verso una piccola costruzione decorativa, recante una nicchia con una statua, la quale chiude verso sud lo spazio architettonico.

To the right of the path opens a wide grassy expanse, limited by numerous fruit trees and in which there are the stands of the outdoor theater area dedicated to the Neapolitan actor and singer Nino Taranto. on the left side the space is less large, partly grassy, and is used for concerts and cultural events.



INFORMATION Address: Via Cavalli di Bronzo, 22, 80046 San Giorgio a Cremano (NA)
Timetable: Mon-Fri 9.30-18.00 Sat 9.30-13.30 (Sunday closing day) 
Free entrance