The building of the villa was begun in 1690 by the Milanese Giorgio II Clerici (1648-1736). The Clerici family, originally from the north of the Como Lake area, accumulated a great richness thanks to the textile trades of Giorgio I (1575-1660) and his sons Pietro Antonio (1599-1675), who was titled as Marquis, and Carlo (1615-1677) who became owner of numerous palaces in Milan and Brianza. Carlo's son, Giorgio II inherited fabulous richness and an important social position; he became senator in 1684 and in 1717 he was nominated as President of the Senate. He conceived the villa in Tremezzo as a real manifesto of his family success.

His 21 years old great-grand son Antonio Giorgio (1715-1768) inherited his immense fortune and completed the building of the villa. Antonio Giorgio, Baron of Sozzago, Marquis of Cavenago, Knight of the Golden Fleece and Milanese patrician had an intense life: charming, owner of a regiment of infantry, generous and squandered, collector of masterpieces of art (he ordered, for example, to Tiepolo the frescos for his house in Milan) he died in 1768, after having dissipated all his richness. 

Claudia, Antonio Giorgio's daughter and Earl Vitagliano Bigli's wife, was the last of the Clericis to own the villa in Tremezzo. She sold it to Gian Battista Sommariva in 1801.


Gian Battista Sommariva (1760-1826) was one of most representing figures of the emerging bourgeoisie in the post-Revolutionary period. Born probably in S. Angelo Lodigiano, from a farmer family, he studied law thanks to a benefactor and became a lawyer. He practised his job in Lodi; he got married and had two sons.
In 1796 he moved to Milan, beginning a political carrier: he became member of the Municipality, he represented Lombardy during the congress of Reggio and then he became Secretary-General of the Government Committee of the Cisalpina Republic.

When the Austrians arrived in Lombardy, he fled to Paris, where he became friend of Napoleon. When France regained the power, he came back in Milan, becoming a member of the Government of the IInd Cisalpina Republic. This important position allowed him to accumulate an enormous wealth: he bought a palace in Paris and the villa in Tremezzo; he was appointed count and then marquis.

In 1802 he was candidate to be vice president of the Republic of Italy, but Napoleon preferred Francesco Melzi d'Eril to him. In that moment Sommariva's political carrier suddenly stopped. Once he retired from public life, Sommariva tried to recover his prestige in high society by becoming an important art collector and constituting an extraordinary museum in his villa on the lake: thanks to his richness and contacts he collected antique and contemporary art masterpieces. Sommariva died in 1826; one of his sons, Emilio had already died, fighting in Spain in 1811.

His second-born, Luigi, inherited all the family richness and properties but he suddenly died in 1838. The heritance was divided between his wife, the French noble woman Emilia Seillère and numerous relatives. The villa was sold. Emilia stayed in Tremezzo in a smaller house and became a benefactor; she reserved for her the property of the family chapel, where the funeral monuments of the Sommarivas had been located.


The villa in Tremezzo was sold in 1843 to Princess Marianne of the Netherlands, the wife of Prince Albert of Prussia. The price (780.000 liras) was ten times the amount paid by that G. Sommariva d to the Clericis 40 years before. Princesses Marianne gave the villa as a wedding present to her daughter Carlotta (1831-1855), on occasion of her marriage with Georg of Sachsen-Meiningen (1826-1914). 

The Sachsen-Meiningens considered the villa a strictly private residence using it as a holiday location; they didn't make any substantial changes in the building; they sold the remains of the art collection, with the exception of some statues and paintings and devoted themselves to the care and enrichment of the garden introducing a great variety of rare and exotic species. Carlotta died in 1855: she was only 23 years old. The villa belonged to the Sachsen-Meiningens until the outbreak of the World War I.