Museum & Meeting
The Dionisi family has its origins in a crusader, Dionisio dei Dionisi, who in the wake o f Federick Barbarossa sailed to the conquest of Jerusalem. The homonym grandson Dionisio was the first of the family to obtain a noble title, being named “eques auratus” in 1245.
Within the portico of the Villa two equestrian figures dominate, a fresco painted by Marcola in 1778 representing Dionisius de Dionysiis (1250), eques auratus, and Joannes Dionysiis (1375). As if to make the link with the with the ancestors even more evident, the creator of the villa Marquis Ganriele had the entire family tree, starting with the founder Dionisius (1180), painted on the walls of upper loggia
The history of the villa
The Foundation has its headquarters at the Villa di Cà del lago in Cerea, which belonged to the Dionisi family, who started their history here seven centuries ago to rise to the rank of Marquis.
Villa Dionisi is a stylish mansion from the eighteenth century, elegant in its lines and structure, witness of a past life handed on to us through the changes of times and events. The decision of the noble Dionisi family to build a family villa in Cerea, was based on the necessity to exercise a direct control over the land brought to cultivation and at the same time an opportunity to welcome their many guests in a rustic and elegant ambience. Especially Marquis Gabriele (1719-1808) prominent figure in the enlightened society of Verona in the eighteenth century was devoted to the construction of the building. In the century of the maximum exploitation of cultivation of rice he was engaged in the realization of this project. The Marquis Gabriele in addition to conducting the agricultural enterprise, was also the mind behind the renovation of the Villa using earlier structures. It was again the Marquis who indicated Nicola Marcola the decorator, the themes aimed at the glorification of the Dionisi family. A few decades later however the French troops occupied Verona and all certainties of the Marquis dissolved and Gabriele, an old man, witnesses how his world collapsed.
The architectural plant
The architectural plant reflects the traditional model of a Venetian villa; at the sides of a vast central hall with two entrances at both ends, all rooms of various forms and sizes are symmetrically arranged. A magnificent staircase with decorated ceilings painted by Giuseppe Montanari leads upstairs where the unchanged plant revolves around the central hall with ceilings covered with beautiful frescoes painted by Gru and Montanari. In the rooms panneaux are used for the partition of the walls. They consist of light and elongated vertical panels framed with a delicate lining in stucco in which harmoniously doors and windows, as well as the portraits of the ancestors and the “lords of the house” are inserted. In this quest for grace, elegant shapes and light the private taste of the Rococo is revealed. In the refined contrast between the solidity of form stressed by the rustication of the porch and the thickness of the pillars of superior design and the Ionic order and wavy lines of the moldings of the pediment and the junction volutes, the villa owes its undeniable peculiarity. It is however the vertical dimension of both pictorial (the frescoed panels painted by Marcola) and plastic (the four statues of female figures on the crown sculpted by Lorenzo Muttoni) decorations which intensifies the semantics of the environment to become almost a complacent exhibition of social rank.
The interiors and frescoes
Villa Dionisi is one of the most interesting artistic heritage of the eighteenth century in the Verona area. It contains frescoes and paintings of an interesting painter and architect Giuseppe Montanari and also paintings by Marcola, present at the villa since 1743 with the founder Giovan Battista (1704 - 1776).
The activity of the artists who worked at the villa has been amply documented in the memoirs of Marquis Gabriele Dionisi, which also reveal the presence of Taddeo Taddei and Giuseppe Gru. The construction of the villa began in 1741 and finished already in June 1742 with exception of the lodge. In the same year the fresco on the ceiling of the hall was painted, with the crowning of a member of the Dionisi family. Around this scene the oval portraits of the family members. In July 1742 Montanari was hired to execute the decoration of the ceiling of the staircase: here within a richly decorated heavy frame three figures in a compact block representing Astronomy, Music and Agriculture, surrounded by cherubs, appear.
The alcove, which was designed for the short stay of the deacon Giovanni Jacopo, brother of the Marquis, is a magnificent example of interior design: the fine decorations in stucco, the judicious use of the lines and gently curved arch of pilasters delimiting the area of the bed, the bright colors of the walls where white is combined with soft colors, the figures of the saints in circles and the pretty heads on the capitals, all perfectly designed to create a wonderful harmonious result.
The library, once reading room, study and archive of the Dionisi family today contains a collection of books on cabinet making.
The first floor of the villa is also the home to the Aldo Morelato Foundation. The core of the activities of the Foundation is the Outlook on Applied Art in the Furniture field, which effects research and promotion. The Aldo Morelato Foundation, with its Outlook intends to be an important resource for the development of the furniture production in Verona area, one of the most important furniture producing areas in Italy, a district of crucial importance for the economy of the Verona plains.
The Church and the park
Following a well-established tradition in the eighteenth century, which consisted, at least at the major country houses, of the presence of a chapel or a “small church” for the small community living in the area around the villa. Gabriele initiated the building of the villa with the construction in 1741 of the chapel. The small temple in an octogonal plan and is decorated inside with precious stucco by the hand of the Bolognese Giuspepe Montanari, painter and architect and pupil architect of Ferdinando Bibiena. The façade with portico is supported by four Ionic columns of clear neoclassical lines. Inside on the Baroque altar with stucco designed by the marquis himself in 1743 (but perhaps on previous sketches of the painter and architect Montanari) an altarpiece by Giovan Battistsa Marcola can be seen while other paintings in chiaroscuro by Taddeo Tadei adorn the walls.
Also the garden was considered an important part of the country house. A place of “delight” which at the same time had a representative function as it was considered the natural extension of the façade of the villa.
Today after important changes and transformations in the eighteenth century which turned it into a park, there are no longer traces of what used to be the scheme of a traditional “Italian garden”.
To stress the integration between residence and agriculture in May 1748 a rice yard and barns to dry the rice were constructed not only because of their utility but also to give importance to the court.
Adjacent to the park, in the silence of the country side and in the middle of the plants, the lemon cellar has been turned into a restaurant connected to the villa. The frescoed rooms , the space in the park, the restaurant offer the possibility to organize parties, banquets and company meetings.