Villa Antona Traversi
With the advent of free communes, certain rights had to be relinquished. In 1252, the monastery’s abbess had to give up her feudal rights regarding Meda and acknowledge the comune’s statutes, although the monastery still retained all its ecclesiastical rights: the most important was the right to nominee the parish priest. In 1496, the monastery was the scene of a meeting between the Emperor Maximilian I of the House of Hapsburg and the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro.
The 18th century brought further important and damaging innovations to the monastery. Although it narrowly missed being suppressed by Joseph II, it later succumbed to the much more severe suppression imposed by the Cisalpine Republic, which was founded by the Napoleonic armies. With the issuing of a decree on the 29th of May 1798, the thousand-year-old monastery was closed, and all the nuns were expelled. The following October, the property was put up for auction, with the final bid going to Giovanni Giuseppe Maunier, a rich merchant from Marseilles who was a supplier for the French army. Maunier, however, had no respect whatsoever for what the monastery’s historical and religious value and promptly engaged Leopoldo Pollack, a well known Viennese architect to turn the cenobium into a neoclassical villa. Pollack raised most of the building and put up entirely new structures, including a grandiose front and a surrounding hemicycle, which looks like a large balcony from which one can obtain a sweeping view that goes from the Alps to the Appennines.
Pollack also put in a series of rooms, including the Octagonal room, the Room of the Masks and the Room with the mirrors, all with superabundant neoclassical decoration. He also turned the ancient convent into a courtyard with a large room. Fortunately, parts of the ancient monastery survived, such as the San Vittore Church, which dated to 1520 and had been decorated with the most important upper Milanese Renaissance frescos done by Bernardino Luini and his school. The church decoration had been further enriched by Giulio Campi’s frescos on the wall behind the main altar and, in 1626, by an altar-piecedone by Giovanni Battista Crespi (known as “The Cerano”). Also surviving is a gilded wooden 17th century statue of the Madonna of the rosary, and a group of wooden figures of the Lombardy school representing the Deposition and attribuited to Gaudenzio Ferrari. In addition, we also still have Bernardino Luini’s splendid frescos on the chorus-room walls. The chorus-room floor, which was done by Pollack, divides the ancient roon into two parts, but the dazzling arabesques and surrounding figures on the ceiling still provide splendid decoration for this room.
The rest of the monastery and the new neoclassical villa, which were purchased in 1836 by Giovanni Traversi, were later inherited by Traversi’s grandchild who then bequeathed them to his descendants, the last of which now owns and maintains this property.