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History

May our joint work here, this institution, always reach its purposes better, than it was founded for: support common welfare and unite approval and appreciation of all the people whom love beauty, usefulness and sincerity.
(Heinrich Mylius, 1844)




At the end of the 18th century Heinrich (Enrico) Mylius (1769-1854), a businessman from Frankfurt, moved to Milan with his wife Friederike Schnauss (1771-1851), descendant of an important family from Weimar. In a few years, he managed to make an immense fortune and achieved renown as an entrepreneur in the silk industry, in the textiles trade as well as in the banking sector. From his place of residence in Milan he maintained close ties with major personalities at the Weimar's court, especially with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, with whom he remained on cordial terms throughout his life.

Mylius was an impressive and multi-talented man who wanted to share his wealth, which came from his entrepreneurial activity, with the society. Hence he financed numerous charitable organizations, founded a technical university and provided artists with orders and awards. His contributions towards the promotion of cultural exchanges between Italy and Germany are invaluable.

In 1829 Heinrich Mylius acquired a country estate on Lake Como in Loveno for his son Julius, who intended to marry Luigia Vitali, a member of an aristocratic Milanese family. However, Julius died in the following year soon after the wedding. As a result, his father transformed the property into a place of remembrance housing a wide collection of sculptures and paintings.
 
The young widow Luigia married Ignazio Vigoni for her second marriage. Their grandson, who bore the same name of Luigia's husband, Ignazio Vigoni junior (1905-1983), died as the last descendant of an affluent German-Italian family in february 1983.

By will Don Ignazio Vigoni Medici di Marignano bequeathed to the Federal Republic of Germany his property at Lake Como, comprising an agricultural estate, several rural buildings and, most of all, two historical villas: Villa Mylius-Vigoni and Villa Garovaglio-Ricci.

The testator’s wish was to create a centre promoting cultural and political understanding between Italy and Germany and at the same time commemorating the friendship of his ancestor Heinrich Mylius with Johann Wolfgang Goethe and Alessandro Manzoni.
According to the will’s instructions, the property should become a meeting place for personalities from the political, diplomatic, scientific, literary and artistic fields, and it should host a centre for major cultural exchange projects between Italy and Germany as well.

After the authenticity of the will and the very possibility of fulfilling it have been ascertained, the commissioners of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) took care of the transition of the Villa Vigoni from a private family property to a cultural and scientific institution. The first meetings betweeen scientists and politicians took place already in 1984. In June of the same year the Federal Government voted in favour of the acceptance of the bequest and set the funds for building renovations and furnishing works. From the very beginning the European dimension and thus the mutual understanding between Italy and Germany have been at the heart of the Villa Vigoni Association.

On 21 April 1986, in Bonn, the Italian and German Foreign Ministers Giulio Andreotti and Hans Dietrich Genscher signed an intergovernmental agreement for the mutual promotion and usage of the villa. According to the last will of Ignazio Vigoni this should be realized through an association to be integrated within the framework of the 1956 Cultural Agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and Italy. As it clearly appears from the exchange of notes between the two ministries, the mission of the Association is to promote cooperation between the two countries in the fields of science, education and culture, including their ties with economy, society and politics, through study visits, colloquia, rounds of talks, summer academies and artistic events at Villa Vigoni.

Going beyond its bilateral scope by shifting towards a European perspective is an integral part of the idea from which the Association was born, thus making the development of the relations between the two countries an active contribution to and in Europe.
 
This is the purpose that the Italian-German Association Villa Vigoni has been serving since that time.

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History