Villa Branca


Direct on the lakeshore of Lago di Lugano lies an old villa with a rich history. ‘Villa Branca’ in the Swiss village Melide, was the property of the Branca family. The Branca family were traditional winemakers.

Let’s delve into the history of Villa Branca in the charming Swiss village of Melide. The original building on this site was a cellar. In 1902 a ground floor is built upon the cellar. It becomes the home of the wealthy wine merchant Alfredo Branca.

The central house with three floors was built in 1912 by an unknown architect. In the 1920s, the Luganese architect Americo Marazzi added the right wing of the building. Beautiful hanging gardens and pergolas were made at the higher part of the building. 

Wine cellar and a luxury residence

The Neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau Villa Branca was unique in its kind because it was both a wine cellar and a luxury residence. On the ground floor are the entrances to the wine cellars, warehouses, and offices. Its sprawling gardens and ornate interiors played host to extravagant parties, intimate gatherings, and leisurely strolls along its manicured pathways. The villa’s allure extended beyond its physical beauty, capturing the imaginations of all who crossed its threshold. However, as the tides of time shifted, so too did the fate of Villa Branca.


In 1981, following Adele Branca’s passing, the building was abandoned, marking the beginning of a decline in the villa’s prosperity. Reconversion started in 2007. However, the efforts to repurpose it halted abruptly after a couple of weeks.

Sadly, in 2011 the villa was demolished. It was replaced by five different buildings that are united at the ground level and top floor, housing 49 luxury apartments and an undergound garage for 100 cars. The demolition of the building marked the end of an era, yet its legacy lives on in the collective memory of those who remember its grandeur. As urban explorers, we pay homage to the stories and histories woven into the fabric of places like Villa Branca, preserving their memory for generations to come. I visited ‘Villa Branca’ in 2007.

Built 1902
Abandoned 1981
Demolished 2011
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