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The Villa Paolina of Viareggio

Viareggio (Lucca), Villa Paolina
Viareggio (Lucca), Villa Paolina

One gaze turned toward the sea, another toward the intimacy of a romantic garden: the Villa Paolina of Viareggio was built by princess Pauline Bonaparte Borghese, Napoleon’s sister, so that she could be close to her lover, the musician Giovanni Pacini, who owned a house in Viareggio.

The palazzo was built on the seashore and in 1823 Pauline was also conceded the facing beach so that she could plant a double row of trees. The work, which was begun in 1822 on the designs of architect Giovanni Lazzarini, revolved around the creation of a palazzo that from the outside appeared to be a compact and almost solid rectangular block but that opened up completely inside with two wings built like an embrace around an interior courtyard, creating an intimate and secluded space, far from worldly cares. As soon as one passed through the entrance courtyard, in fact, one’s gaze was turned toward a flourishing garden and citrus grove that face the building’s facade. The bedrooms and salons were instead all situated facing the beach, so as to benefit from a close relation with the sea. The residence was embellished with a decorative cycle typical of the French repertoire: colonnades, mirrors with Greek borders, Egyptian motifs, panels alternating with columns and green as the dominant colour, the work of painter Federico Marsili. Also noteworthy are the paintings in the dining room, which portray landscapes and ruins.

At Pauline’s death, the villa was inherited by her sister Caroline Murat, who renovated the structure, which is now the seat of the Civic Museums of Viareggio.

Civic Museums of the Villa Paolina
via Machiavelli, 2
Viareggio (Lucca)

The museum is open 1 September to 30 June; 3:30 PM to 7:30 PM; 1 July to 31 August: 6 PM to 11 PM; closed Mondays

Admission ticket: full 2.50 euros, reduced 1.50 euros

Tel + 39 0584 966342