The Place I love

Pavia, Italy
Level 10

Dear @Robin4, thank you for sharing the story of you lovely cottage on the Italian Community Center. It would be so nice to hear other stories about interesting homes on this CC! Here is mine from Italy. Our daughter Emanuela, who lives in Irvine CA, helped me with the translation.

I hope you enjoy,



Something about the history of our house in Dagnente


Villa Bianchi was built in Dagnente on Mount Mirabello over Arona at the beginning of 1900s by an engineer, Dr. Ungaro, as a vacation home for his family which lived in Milan. It was therefore called Villa Ungaro until it was bought by our great uncle Carlo Bianchi, a pharmacist, in the 1930s. Since then it’s been continuously owned by the Bianchi family, and has become known as Villa Bianchi.






On old military maps, the house used to be marked as reference point because it is oriented exactly along the compass points. Today the house is protected under preservation laws by the city of Arona.

One of the reasons we have always loved this house is its view of the lake. The villa sits on a plateau on the east side of Mount Mirabello, and from its east side with its terrace facing Lake Maggiore you can enjoy a panoramic view; from South to North you can see up to the end of the lake in Dormelletto, the Rocca d’Angera right in front of the house, the Punta di Ranco, and the lombard side of the lake all the way up to the Hermitage of Caterina del Sasso. At the back of the lake during clear days you can enjoy the view of the Lombard Prealpi up to Mount Adamello. Looking through the woods to the south of the villa from the garden you can glimpse the back of the Colossus of San Carlo.




In “Cenni Storici di Dagnente” from 1949 Francesco Gallina, parson of Dagnente, wrote:


Last, at the top, alone, surrounded by the green of woods and vineyards, the Villa of Doctor Bianchi. From there the eye can gaze around at the widest view of the lake, the mountains, the plain; ideal dwelling for the sentimental soul.


Villa Bianchi is located at the end of the village, on the narrow road that from Dagnente leads to Montrigiasco. The house has three floors, including the basement. The exterior of the house is finely decorated with geometric and floral patterns in the upper part, and with a 3D brick pattern made with red plaster in the lower part. Like many country houses of the time the house didn’t have water and power was carried by wires covered in silk that ran on the walls. Water was taken from the well that still today is in front of the garden shed under the fig tree at the end of the garden. Two natural springs that were present in the garden in the past were used to wash the laundry, but today they have dried up. The house was heated only by wood burning fireplaces and stoves that were in each room. Today the heating system is powered by natural gas but in the coolest evenings is still lovely to use the fireplace in the kitchen.











In the 1960s the water system has been installed and two bathrooms have been created where the toilets once were. Floors, doors, and windows are original, as well as the built in cupboards in the kitchen. When in 1992 my husband Vittorio and I took over the house, we first moved the entrance gate a couple of meters inside the garden to allow even larger vehicles to access the propertyLater on we remade the floors of the hall, the laundry room and the closet in the basement and added a bathroom. The power system has also been upgraded and moved inside the walls according to code.

From 2000 onwards my husband and I have personally restored the exterior walls and the interior decorations to their original beauty.












In 2018 the roof has also been replaced.


The furniture in each room was previously owned by different family members.


The property is surrounded by 7,000 sq meters of land, part of which is a large and flat garden (a rare find in the hilly area above Lake Maggiore) and that further out descends towards the lake covered in woods of chestnut, oak, and locust trees.


In the garden shed, uncle Carlo kept bunnies and goats. Under the terrace there was a hen-house and vines were grown on most of the flat land around the house, which is also ideal to grow peaches and blueberries. In October century old chestnut trees produce delicious fruits that are used to prepare the most diverse dishes.









The delicious peaches in syrup prepared with the garden fruit by Kit, uncle Carlo’s housekeeper, are still an unforgettable memory in our family. Today, my chestnut spread made with Dagnente’s chestnuts is appreciated even by our California relatives.


Given that the house is far from the city center, in the early morning it is not unusual to see squirrels, foxes and deers before they disappear into the woods. Among the different bird species that nest in the woods the most colorful is certainly the green woodpecker that, besides trees, doesn’t disdain to taste our house shutters!


Even here though, modern life has arrived and the Internet connects the house to the outside world. And if you, immersed in these quiet surroundings, feel the need for more life, you can drive to Arona that is 10 minute away and is a charming and lively city. In Dagnente you can find an excellent restaurant, a hair salon, and you can have your grocery shopping delivered every morning for free. The closest supermarket is a 7 min drive. Hiking trails connect Dagnente to Montrigiasco and Ghevio.


We wish for our guests to feel at home in this atmosphere of the past and to let themselves be charmed by the beauty of the surrounding nature.



                                                  Colossus of San Carlo near Dagnente

4 Replies

Re: The Place i love

Auckland, New Zealand
Level 10

What a beautiful well written historical account of a lovely place @Angela1056 


Do you know if Dr Ungaro is a relation of Emmanuel Ungaro the designer?


Have you looked back in history to find out more about their history?


Or others who built your home?


 It should be available in historic newspaper / journal archives.


There's always an abundance of knowledge tucked in those archives.

 It's easiest to browse through them in 10 yr time frames.


Another aspect to delve into with one's historic homes is to establish where those before one are buried.


Up until the 1960's Burial, Cemetery Bills/ Acts/ Legislation people were allowed to be buried on their land if they were 5 miles or more away from a Burial Ground or cemetery.


I would like to see every country have a land map with all the churches & burial grounds on together with when they were created & who  was involved and lived in those locations to help preserve that aspect of our heritage.


It goes a long way to educate people that the world we have today it's vastly different to the places & things some take for granted and assume have always been there.


All the best

Central To All Home& Location

Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand 

Re: The Place i love

Level 10

@Angela1056  ❤️❤️❤️ Thank you!

Betreff: The Place i love

Pavia, Italy
Level 10

Thank you @Helen427  @Ann72 ! I don’t know so much about the Ungaro family. They have their roots in southern Italy from where the engineer Ungaro came to Milan. There he married a daughter of the famous Richard-Ginori Manufactory owner, had 4 children and built this house on the lake for their vacation. After not so many years it was finished his wife forced him to sell it because of his too frequent escapes to the lake without her. That’s when our uncle bought it. I agree with Helen that searching in history is fascinating, I’m now elaborating our Bianchi family tree. 

Ciao ciao, Angela

Re: The Place I love

Online Community Manager in
London, United Kingdom
Online Community Manager

What a lovely thread and story @Angela1056 

Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂 

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