The current aspect of the Villa is a result of a series of restorations made throughout the 19th century. The building originated as a hunting lodge as an asset to the large park designed by the Architect Lorenzo Nottolini of Viareggio for the Duchess of Lucca, Maria Luisa Borbone.
The estate is protected by a fenced enclosure with a monumental gate onto “Viale dei Tigli”. The Villa is placed in the middle of the large farm estate which is part of Park Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli.
The shape of the villa is designed with a central body with two perpendicular areas on the north and the south creating an H-shaped plan.
In the northern area a mausoleum chapel, characterized by a neo-14th century marble façade can be found, where the tombs of the Lucca sovereigns and their heirs are, along with the stables. The southern area, characterized by three paned windows refinished in Mitteleuropean styled open bricks was once a service area and warehouse. The space is now used for conventions and offices.
The principal façade reflects the peculiar compositional style of Architect Nottolini, with Carrara marble for the framed windows and the Borbone family coat of arms, placed over the central windowed-door on the first floor. The roof is surrounded by a terrace with a cast iron railing from which there was originally a view of the sea. Worth noticing are two large openings covered in wood and glass, leading onto two passages paved in stone with painted arches, which originally served as transit for carriages.
The building, even though it went through much restoration, presents itself in a well balanced proportion, proper to a country home even considering that it went from a hunting lodge to manor and finally to an upper-class residence, it does not have inside, even though it has great dimensions, neither halls nor reception rooms; thus it was never meant as a home for representation.
In addition there is also a long and narrow arched lemon tree garden leading towards the main garden.
The idea of building the villa had started with the Duchess of Lucca, Maria Luisa Borbone in 1818. She is responsible for some fundamental decisions concerning the City of Viareggio. In 1819 she built the first dock area (darsena) and bought the entire eastern pine wood. She edited the housing plan for urban development in 1820, raising the status of Viareggio from town to city and in 1823, she established the coastal administrative district. She was also the one who hired Architect Nottolini to study the project for a royal palace with a hunting lodge. The project was launched but was brought out only in small part before the Duchess’ death in Rome in 1824. Her heir, Carlo Lodovico, Duke of Lucca abandoned his mother’s monumental projects. Later, starting from 1844, 17 farmhouses were built for the farmers cultivating poplars and vineyards.
In 1847 Carlo Lodovico became the Duke of Parma with the name of Carlo II and left the Duchy of Lucca to Pietro Leopoldo of Tuscany who, after an uprising in the Duchy in 1849 abdicated in favor of the son Carlo Ferdinando who then succeeded him under the name if Carlo III. He also acquired the estate in Viareggio. Carlo III had a chapel dedicated to Saint Carlo Borromeo built, under the project of the Architect Giuseppe Gheri. This chapel is the element of greater interest in the estate because it is the true mausoleum of the Borbone-Parma family.
Through succession, the Villa along with the vast farm estate was inherited by Bianca, wife of the Archduke of Austria Leopoldo Salvatore of Asburgo Lorena, the grandson of the Great Duke of Tuscany, Leopoldo II.
During the 1st World War, the Villa was confiscated because it was considered to be enemy property (Austria) and it was assigned as command of the Italian navy of the Balipedio. It was later returned to its legitimate owners who lived there steadily until 1985. It was then sold to the Engineer Benvenuto Barsanti who donated the Villa to the People of Viareggio under the custody of the Municipality.
In 2005, having bought the chapel from the Borbone heirs, the Municipality reunited the monumental complex.