Located along Via Emilia, at the entrance of Castel San Giovanni for those coming from Piacenza, the construction of Villa Braghieri started at the end of the 17th century; it was aimed to be the "country residence" of Count Daniele Chiapponi: a holiday residence much needed by the noblemen from Piacenza at the time.
The works went on, with delays and complaints by the local community for the excessive dimensions of the building, for the whole 18th century: the heirs of the count enriched and widened the initial building. The final arrangement is that resulting from the works directed by Carlo Scotti, nephew of the Marquise Teodora Chiapponi. The "country residence" took the aspect it still has nowadays at the end of the 18th century.
In 1809 rich members of the the local middleclass became the new owners: the villa was purchased by Mr Pietro Albesani, landowner and President of the Court of Piacenza, who didn't change it much. After several steps of inheritance the villa was taken over by Carlo and Teresa Braghieri in 1905 and belonged to them until 1971. The lawyer Carlo Braghieri wanted the villa to become a property of Ente Comunale di Assistenza di Castel San Giovanni (Castelsangiovanni Municipal Assistance Board) after the death of the last heir.When Teresa died in 1971 the villa and the rural estates were taken over by ECA; in 1996 it became a municipal estate.
From 1905 to the Great War both the exterior (garden, gates and fence) and the interior (tiling, electrical/heating/water systems, elimination of stairways)underwent consistent changes. Any works after the war just dealt with maintenance, and they ceased completely after 1950.
After the townhall became the new owner, works concerned re-making the rooftop, the park fence and the installation of an alarm system.
Seen from outside, the villa is composed by two squared volumes next to one another: the main one is the residential building; the other one hosts garages and stables. The rooms inside have a geometrical layout, but then develop in an articulate way on two levels (ground floor and first floor) and are connected by an imposing stairway starting in the hall and minor stairways. The cellars, well built and preserved, extend to the whole residential area. The stucco decoration constitues the most remarkable element of the whole building: the humble exterior contrasts with the rich interior. The 23 richly furnished rooms (despite the thefts of the recent years) were influenced for 3 centuries by the taste of their different owners and became therefore a living museum: clothes, furniture, ornaments, photos, letters, scores, collections of stones and crystals, memories of the three families who lived here and of the famous people who were their guests, like Giuseppe Verdi in September 1859. It also offers a meaningful portrait of the life of an upper middleclass family between the 19th and 20th century.
The local board of Castel San Giovanni, with the approval of Soprintendenza ai Beni Architettonici di Bologna (Cultural Assets Board of Bologna), has appointed arch. Marcello Spigaroli from Piacenza for the transformation of the building into historical archive and new municiapl library. The library is supplied with the most modern multimedia tools and will be on two floors: the children library on the ground floor and and the adults library on the first floor, together with the historical archive. Other premises will host the display of the various materials left by cardinal Agostino Casaroli to his native town. Restoration works will involve the noble part of the building and the cellars, which already host Tidone Valley’s Ethnographic Museum. The park surrounding the building, which has been open to the public in these years, will be rearranged, and the green area will be destined to music events and exhibitions. At the end of the works, Villa Braghieri Albesani is expected to become an important cultural centre for the whole Tidone Valley, the province of Piacenza and the surrounding areas, ideal for events; and it will be possible to visit its wonderful premises, which are still richly furnished and decorated by precious restored stuccoes and frescoes.