Villa Bettoni as we can admire it today is the result of the expansion of the previous seventeenth-century palace and is due to the work of architects Adriano Cristofoli and later Antonio Marchetti.
Of the original palace, the impressive dining room remains, enriched by the paintings of Francesco Campo. Of the sixteen Bettoni siblings who commissioned the palace, it was mainly Carlo, the agricultural engineer, who was involved in the construction of the building, which is reflected in the library, inspired by him and rich in scientific instruments.
Architect Adriano Cristofoli was responsible for the initial designs and the overall idea of the palace, but it may be exaggerated to consider that it was actually the Brescian abbot Antonio Marchetti, who succeeded his absentee predecessor in 1756, who was the true mastermind, rather than just the executor of the work.
Certainly, the Marchetti’s masterpiece is the grand staircase of the palace, embellished with statues by Gian Battista Locatelli (who also created the sculptures placed on the balustrade of the central body of the villa).
The staircase, frescoed by the Galliari brothers, leads to the magnificent hall, also frescoed by the Galliari brothers, which occupies three entire floors of the palace and opens on one side towards the mountains and on the other towards the lake.
Of the many beauties of this villa, which houses numerous collections, the most notable is undoubtedly a gallery that constitutes a remarkable example of a private art collection. We can remember the room dedicated to Marshal Gian Antonio Bettoni (1712-1773), modeled on the Austrian example, with notable stuccoes by Stanislao Somazzi and martial frescoes by Vincenzo Guaranà, son of Jacopo, the artist of the great equestrian portrait of the commander of Maria Teresa d’Austria’s cavalry that dominates the environment.
The Garden of Villa Bettoni
Located at the center of a vast park, surrounded by olive groves and citrus orchards, the pleasure garden of Villa Bettoni is enriched by delightful valleys and laurel bushes, and features a stunning architecture that perfectly complements the villa. This architecture is called Prospettiva and, by taking advantage of the perspective effects, leads the eye to the top of a tree-lined avenue where a small temple dedicated to Apollo was supposed to be built.
Of the Bettoni brothers who built the current villa, Carlo, who had overseen the construction of the palace, unfortunately opposed this project. As an agricultural engineer, he probably did not like to see productive plants sacrificed for the scenic architecture of the Prospettiva (which, however, incorporates and enhances two lemon houses and various farm buildings). Therefore, it was mainly Gian Maria, and later Delay, who oversaw the work, directed by the Florentine architect Amerigo Vincenzo Pierallini. The former lived in Genoa, the latter in Naples. In those places, in contact with the international styles that were emerging at the time, especially in the royal palaces, the two brothers had developed a taste for grandiosity that clashed with Carlo’s opinion that, at least in the garden, the entire structure should be developed with natural elements only.
The Garden of Villa Bettoni, like the palace, is enriched by sculptures by Gian Battista Locatelli and features three main fountains fed by sources within the park, an artificial grotto modeled on similar ones in Genoa, and two magnificent terraces that span the road and connect to the body of the villa, overlooking the lake.