Semi-concealed by an imposing cedar path, you will find the Casino dei Boschi. This wonderful structure was built between 1775 and 1789 by the Duchess Maria Amalia di Borbone who entrusted the architect Petitot with the building on a pre-existing hunting chalet. The structure was initially thought as a villa-farmstead: with a square plan, it consisted of two floors with a central turret; the main façade was characterized by a triple open gallery facing a square courtyard. The building was completed by a chapel and some service premises. In 1819 Maria Luigia from Austria, the new Duchess of Parma, bought the villa and the annexed estate, where she brought considerable changes.
The architect Bettoli, who was entrusted with the restructuring, carried it out according to the Neoclassical style (abolition of the central turret, building of a central pediment and of a column prostyle above which there was a terrace). The most significant change consisted of adding next to the villa a very long colonnade which was formed by columns coming from the royal palace of Colorno and known as the "Prolunga", from which you entered the service premises. In the middle of the colonnade the CASINETTO was placed, a building with clock and bell tower, which housed the court theater.
According to the will of Maria Luigia, the court gardener Barvitius, between 1820 and 1830, created an elegant English garden as ornament to the villa. This Monumental Park was thought to harmoniously adapt itself to the shape of the wood. As a matter of fact, the vegetation was placed considering the color of the foliage in the different seasons, the nature of the branches, and the light. Some exotic species were planted and sinuous avenues were created.
In 1870 the Casino dei Boschi and the park passed from being property of the Italian Kingdom to the Eng. Grattoni; when he died, the current owners, the Princes Carrega, bought them. The Garden is made above all of evergreens; it houses fir trees (Greek firs, Caucasian firs, Douglas firs), Port-Orford Cedars, thujas, cedars of different species mixing up with huge plane trees, holm oaks, and yews. Moreover, it preserves some monumental specimens, among which a huge yew and a sequoia near the Casino.
Thanks to an agreement with the owners, the Monumental Park is open to the public. The villa cannot be visited during the winter, while the garden can be visited through a guided excursion, on foot or by carriage. The wonderful complex also houses several entertainment and cultural events, like theatrical performances, concerts, and walks: further occasions to admire the beauty of this place.