Villa Lanfranchi

43037 - Lesignano de' Bagni (PR)


the villa was built in the second half of the 16th century on pre-existing 14th century remains, and it is therefore one of the oldest of the province, with the typical appearance of the Farnesian castle-villa: a solid building on a square plan fit above all for defence.

The Counts Sforza of Santa Fiora built it after Santa Maria del Piano and Lesignano were granted to them (1548) by Pope Paul III, then it came under the Marquis Sforza Cesarini (17th century). In the 18th century it came under the Noblemen Fusari, and from these through the female line, to the Noblewomen of Parma Balestra (19th century), and finally to the Balestra Toschi (20th century), the last of whose, Margherita Balestra Toschi, was the mother of the last owner, the film director Mario Lanfranchi.

The large Oratory is next to the villa and it seems to have been built by Marquis Giovanni Fusari in 1569-70 and dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, already fallen into decline at the end of the 18th century and made into a storage building for agricultural equipment.

The Bishop of Parma restored and re-consacrated it in 1962 with a solemn mass.

The wide and elaborate Italian style garden is adjacent to the villa. It was designed by Antonio Vitali and created in 1996-97, embellished with 17th and 18th century sculptures.

A local legend says that the deep well in the cellar, called
dai mill taij
(of a thousand cuts) for the blades that cover the submersed part of it, had a long time ago served as a place to throw undesirable guests. The palace might be the home (besides the owners) to a female ghost, a young woman from the Sforza family of Santa Fiora who had died for love.