The first time I heard of the movie “Letters to Juliet”, I was so excited to watch it as I watched the trailer and was simply enchanted, seeing the setting of the movie and the potential of the romance that was to unfold in the movie.
I was not disappointed once I watched the movie as it tells of a young Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) who goes to Verona on a “honeymoon” with her fiancé Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal). Conflict of interests do not allow them to be together and Sophie soons discovers a group of women volunteers who respond to letters to Juliet seeking advice about love. After answering one letter from a certain Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) that was dated all the way back to 1957, the adventure unfolds as she helps Claire, and her grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) find Claire’s long lost love, Lorenzo Bartolini.
In their quest of finding Lorenzo, they end up visiting Villa Allegri Arvedi situated in the hamlet of Cuzzano in the town Grezzana in Italy. Charlie makes a joke directed to Claire about the place saying, “Well, wouldn’t this be nice, gran? Growing from a boy who works the field to a man that owns them – and you got to skip the messy bits.” She replies with, “Life IS the messy bits.“
Villa Allegri Arvedi was registered as the property of Mastino, Alberto and Cangrande della Scala since 1200. In 1432 it was described as: ”a holding with a battlemented house, and wine and oil presses”. It is situated on the slope of a hill and surrounded above by an ancient olive grove and a wood full of oaks and hornbeams.
The current period style of the villa is of Baroque, although the presence of a structure was documented as early as the thirteenth century.
A little history though, Villa Arvedi was built in 1200 and was registered as the property of the Dalla Scala family. Jacopo Dal Verme became in the Villa’s owner in 1400 when he exchanged the castle and village of Viganò with Gian Galeazzo Visconti. In 1442, the Veneto Republic seized the Villa and put it up for sale together with other remaining properties of Jacopo’s rebellious nephew, Alivse Dal Verme.
The Villa, being listed as a “palatio merlato” (battlemented building) passed from the hands of the Dal Verme family to the Allegri family, which were a very important and powerful family at the time.
Over the years, the Allegri dynasty’s political and financial power diminished and in 1824 Lucrezia, the last descendant of the Veronese family, sold the villa for 362,068.97 Austrian liras to Giovanni Antonio Arvedi from Trento.
From that day the Arvedi family has been the owner of this splendid villa in Cuzzano.
Villa Allegri Arvedi building has two floors and inside boasts numerous frescoes and works of art. Two magnificent rooms distinguished by their breadth and decorations are the dining room of the Caesars and the Titans. The Hall of the Caesars is located on the ground floor and overlooks the Italian garden on one side and the other on the inner courtyard, where you can see the chapel. Inside, the frescoes are preserved (much of them repainted) by Paul Farinati. Adjacent to the hall of the Caesars are two smaller lounges featuring wooden ceilings frescoed in trompe l’oeil technique with scene of landscapes and fanciful mythological figures attributed to Veronese Sante Prunati and Joseph Falezza.
The Hall of the Titans is located on the first floor of the villa and coincides with the large reception hall with double height. It was painted by Ludovico Dorigny in 1720 with mythological scenes. In the lower walls are depicted the allegories of the zodiac signs, placed in fake architectural structure and the struggles of the Giants. Under some of the small windows, you can see the portraitsof the members of the Allegri family. The ceiling is decorated with architecture of illusion and perspective effects attributed to Francesco Galli Bibbena which contain reproductions of Olympus and the Three Graces and the Winds.
Letters to Juliet was truly a delightful movie, and the scenes were well depicted. A realization that dawned unto me was how the locations really have a big impact on what the directors wanted to convey. The Villa here, presented the idea of Lorenzo being grand and rich already, after years of hardships helps add to the plot of the movie. Architecture definitely goes beyond the aesthetically pleasing features of it and actually helps in conveying messages that directors would want to convey. It’s interesting how creative people can really be, don’t you think?
Kyra Giselle T. Co
2011 – 14150