Statues as light as sails

  • 7 May - 10.45
  • 24°
  • 361 m
  • Inspired

In Ligornetto, just a short distance from the town square, is a villa set in beautiful grounds full of flowers, lemons, fountains and trees of every kind. Vincenzo Vela, an artist who travelled from the Mendrisiotto area to Rome, was born in this small village in 1820. Strolling through his statues today takes you back to the height of the Italian Risorgimento.

He watches you and you feel really small. His gaze is almost threatening, but you focus on the lightness of those enormous drapes that appear to be made of wispy fabric rather than plaster. You seem to feel the wind caressing your skin as it moves towards the giant and causes his clothing to billow out. Then you see the expression on his face, the details of his hands and the majesty that seems to radiate out of the eyes of those men who made Italy and beyond.
Vincenzo Vela. That name isn’t new to you and now you remember: you’d seen one of his sculptures in a museum in Rome and were surprised to discover that they devoted so much space to an artist from Ticino. It’s not easy to emerge in a country so rich in culture. But he managed it. After leaving Ligornetto, the Swiss sculptor studied in Milan and Venice, signed up as a volunteer in the Swiss civil war of Sonderbund and then went on to find fame and fortune in Turin. In 1862 he commissioned the construction of the villa in Ligornetto, designed to house his most important pieces.

This architectural and artistic gem is enhanced by fountains, an Italian and English garden, a lake, corners for reading and reflecting, flowers and plants. It feels like you’re in heaven. You didn’t believe there was a museum here, amidst the vineyards, fields and lanes. Of course you’re impressed by Vincenzo’s statues, but also by the works by his brother Lorenzo and son Spartaco. And then you see the paintings and the temporary exhibition: the one you’re visiting is devoted entirely to flowers. It’s fascinating to see what nature can do and what we have before our eyes on a daily basis.

Children are also given a chance to learn about this at the Vincenzo Vela Museum. As you entered, you saw a schoolgirl about to begin a journey of discovery. They'll certainly remember this visit and the smiles on their faces, fascinated by the plaster giants, seem to confirm this impression. Let the love of art begin!

Almute and Alex Naef,  - Sculpture School Peccia
Almute and Alex Naef, Sculpture School Peccia
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In addition to the works of Vincenzo Vela, the museum hosts various temporary exhibitions.