The best welcome at the entrance of Miasino is granted by the Nigra Villa. Built for the Martelli family, the villa is composed of three buildings dating back to different eras. The original unfortunataely sober-looking building that looks out across the square is from the sixteenth century. Later the villa was expanded using materials obtained from the demolition of the Carcegna castle, and then purchased by Camillo Martelli in 1606. Following his purchase, the east wing, galleries, and arcade were added.
Arcades had been used since the fifteenth century on the shores of Lake Orta; the gallery was extremely useful not only for its obviously indispensable function of connecting adjacent spaces, but even moreso for its ability to lend an aesthetic lightness to the entire composition of the structure, whose vaults were wisely embellished with tasteful, polished blue decor. The Nigra family purchased the villa in the middle of the nineteenth century.
Carlo Nigra was an esteemed architect and the idea man behind the restoration of many historical buildings in this region; he envisioned the arrangement of the park and planted camellias, rhododendrons, and magnolias in flowerbeds along the sides of gravel paths. Thriving vegetation extends along a gentle slope. The walls of the courtyards are covered in frescoes with special optical effects that delight visitors. The windows in the eighteenth century wing frame the garden of frescoes, which suggest illusions of friezes and tympanums, even taking the shapes of the bodies of the busts painted at the bottom and top. This breathtaking effect is unmatched: artwork and architecture are exquisitely merged together everywhere you look.
A historical tidbit from the First World War: during the war the Nigra Villa’s greenhouse experimented with a functional mixture of old newspapers and paraffin, wrapped by hand by the families to be sent to the front lines. These packages were used to heat the soldiers’ meal rations. Recently the Nigra Villa has become the ideal location for cultural events, conferences, music festivals, and temporary exhibitions, providing an exclusive, unique backdrop for any event.
Since 2004 the Nigra Villa has been property of the Amministrazione Comunale (Community Administration). The park is open every day, and from here you can admire the magnificent recently restored outdoor frescoes; entry is free. The villa currently provides a refreshment bar for its visitors.