The monumental cemetery of the Villetta was built in 1817 on the will of Maria Luigia d’Austria, Duchess of Parma, after Napoleon’s edict of Saint Cloud dated June 12th 1804 that prohibited burials in and around the churches within the city boundaries, as done for centuries.
The cemetery is an octagon with four long opposed sides and four short ones, surrounded by 156 arcades with simple pillars surmounted by round arches, assigned to the social representations of the time: the Court, the Municipality, University, the Costantinian Order, the Pia Funzione of the Ufficianti, different Orders, Religious and Notables Confraternities of the city.
The interior is divided in four wide fields, destined to the common burials and two lanes crossing orthogonally at the centre of the cemetery.
The chapel, built in 1819 and dedicated to S. Gregorio Magno, has an octagonal plan with neoclassical facade, triangular frontispice and tetrastyle pronaos.
A little bit after the completion of the octagon, was settled the first of many extensions that went on until today and left traces of different styles and tastes for every time and age, so that this place is now an extraordinary lesson of art and architecture.
The name La villetta comes from the fact that the graveyard was built near the barracks of the city guards, called Villette.
The cemetery hosts graves of famous people. The first citizen to be buried at the cemetery of the Villetta was the poet Angelo Mazza (1741 – 1817), now are resting there, among the others, Niccolò Paganini, Ildebrando Pizzetti, General Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, Pietro Barilla, Padre Lino Maupas, Paola Borboni.
It is possible to follow 4 different itineraries.
Itinerary 1 The history of the cemetery
Itinerary 2 The musicians
Itinerary 3 The artists
Itinerary 4 The memory of the heroes
The stops along the itineraries have a QR code and a panel with information, the maps are located at the entrance of the cemetery.