Villa Crivelli Pusterla (General Presentation)

The grandiose Villa Crivelli Pusterla of Limbiate is a place of historic and artistic value and today the seat of the Luigi Castiglioni State High School.
The name of the villa traces back to the historical novel Margherita Pusterla written by Cesare Cantù in 1838. The author chose the villa of Mombello as the setting for his narration that drew inspiration from the Milanese court during the Visconti era.


The conspiracy of the Pusterla, hatched in 1340 by Franciscolo Pusterla to remove the Visconti’s authority over Milan is a historical fact. However, there are no documents to prove that the Pusterla family had effectively lived here. However, in the first half of the 16th century the Carcano family certainly bought the villa.
In 1543 Giacomo Antonio Carcano left the feud as a legacy for his grandson, Giovanni Battista Arconati. The villa was transformed into an elegant home thanks to Anna Visconti, who married the son of Giovanni Battista Arconati. The woman commissioned the architect, Martino Bassi, to carry out important renovation works on the building, and these were completed under the supervision of his son, Luigi.
Anna Visconti’s project, aimed at rendering the massive features of the building more elegant, ended in 1719 when Giuseppe Antonio Arconati sold the estates of Mombello to be able to face the financial undertakings caused by the construction of Villa Arconati in Bollate.
The villa was bought by the Crivelli, a noble family that held the monopoly of tax collection and sales of the halls on behalf of the Austrian emperors. Thanks to Giuseppe Angelo and above all to his son, Stefano Gaetano, the building was transformed into a splendid villa with an Italian garden and part of the English park. The works were entrusted to the architect, Francesco Croce who built the north wing of the building and the great staircase of honour. He doubled the height of the south wing, adding further rooms to the preexisting structure, reduced the turrets to decorative elements, and transformed the stairs leading to the garden.
The villa lived its period of maximum splendour when it hosted personages such as Ferdinando IV, King of the Two Sicilies, and Luigi Castiglioni, advocate of Lombardy’s Age of Enlightenment.
In1797 it became the temporary seat of the court of Napoleon Bonaparte who took it in his possession by seizing it from the Crivelli. In the six months of his stay, it is probable that the General had made important decisions such as the treaty of Campoformio and the creation of the Cisalpine Republic.
In1819 Count Ferdinando Crivelli was forced to sell the villa to the Catena brothers, to settle his father’s debts. From then on the house passed into the hands of the rich bourgeoisie and between the third and fifth decades of the 19th century underwent a period of abandonment and decline.
In1865 the property passed to the newborn Province of Milan that decided to assign it as the seat of the Psychiatric Hospital to replace the overcrowded Milanese asylum of Senavra. The extension works of the villa ended in 1878, the year in which numerous pavilions of the asylum complex were completed.
Following the proclamation of Law no. 180 of 13 May 1878, known as the Basaglia Law, a slow process of transformation of the venues began, to end only in the 1900s with the closure of the asylum and its gradual and partial reconversion. The transformation of the villa, therefore, dates back to this period and part of the accessory spaces in the scholastic building is today involved in the creation of new venues.