Ancient foliage reflecting on the water, vast clearings, small temples and sham ruins: a garden that is the heart of vast agricultural and hunting estate, much loved first by the Hapsburgs and then by the Savoy family, and today home to an important agricultural school.

Built between 1777 and 1780, Villa Reale was designed by the renowned neoclassical architect Giuseppe Piermarini at the behest of Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria and her son Ferdinand. Occupied by Eugene de Beauharnais during the Napoleonic era, it then became property of the Savoy family and later abandoned after the assassination of Umberto I in 1900. Its 40 hectares of gardens, part of the more than 700 hectares of parkland, were completed around 1783. Faithful to the great example of the Reggia di Caserta and assisted by Viennese gardeners, Piermarini designed a formal layout defined by a central perspective axis of French inspiration. A recently restored labyrinth and parterreswere built to the north and west of the villa. To the east, a terraced area with an exedra was complemented by a canal and tree-lined avenues. Parts of the landscape garden provided a visual opening onto the surrounding agricultural landscape. At the beginning of the 19th century, the villa was redesigned by architects Luigi Canonica and Giacomo Tazzini. The gardens, under the direction of Luigi Villoresi, saw the integration of an evocative English-style landscaped area in which exotic species were introduced and a first plant catalogue of the property was published. Citrus fruits, tobacco, chocolate and coffee were grown in the Orangerie. The water of the Lambro river still feeds the numerous canals in the park and a small lake with a small temple designed by Piermarini. The subject of numerous paintings, this water feature is completed by the Grotta del Nettuno (Neptune’s Grotto). Not far away, beyond a stream and a waterfall, are the Antro di Polifemo (Polyphemus’ cave), Gothic Revival walls and a lookout tower.