In 1835, the Italian-Canadian John Canessa decided to purchase the eighteenth-century inn with an adjoining post-office owned by the mail-coach that traveled the Sempione, and enlarge it to give Belgirate its first luxury hotel, Hotel Borromeo. The excellent service, attention to detail, the care of the furnishings, the well-tended garden, the view of the lake and the mildness of the climate attracted many Italian and international visitors that established the success of the next twenty-five years.
In the last years of the nineteenth century, Gaspare Piceni, a Genoese ship owner originating from Magognino, was the summer holidays in his family home. When his daughter Rosa, a little more than a teenager, caught a bad fever that gave no signs of fading, the young doctor, Venturino Martelli, was called with urgency. He diagnosed Rosa with an intestinal infection and prescribed medication that in short time relieved her of her symptoms.
Strangely enough, however, convalescence seemed never-ending for Rosa. Not only did the confident doctor continue to visit Rosa twice a day, but his visits had become endless, so much so that Gaspare Piceni urged the doctor to take care of the real sick patients and not of his daughter that was now completely healed. With the departure of the charming doctor, Rosa became melancholic, and the father, regretful and concerned, allowed her to resume the doctor’s visits. Shortly after, the two decided to marry and Gaspare blessed the wedding by buying the Hotel Borromeo, which had ceased its activity, and donated it to Rosa.
Villa Piceni thus became a family residence and, thanks to the brilliant personality of Dr. Venturino Martelli, was for many years the hot spot for social life in the Piedmont shore of Lake Maggiore. The children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of Rosa and Venturino held a special place in their heart for Villa Piceni and returned every year to spend their summer holiday.
Today Ignazio and Guido Fiume, the fifth generation of descendants of Gaspare Piceni, with an act of love that is reminiscent of their ancestor, engaged in a profound restoration that has returned the property to its ancient splendour, making it available for events, celebrations, ceremonies and stays in the evocative setting of Lake Maggiore.