The Corte Maso, or Villa Paralupi, is situated along the road of the same name, in the direction of Guastalla. Its construction dates back to the 16th century and, according to the historian of the time Affò, it was a hunting lodge with park and garden belonging to the Gonzaga di Luzzara family.
The current structure dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries, whilst the central body of the villa dates back to the 1500s. The alterations to the building and the stables began in 1682, with Don Giovanni Battista Spinelli. Corte Maso passed into the Spinelli di Guastalla family from 1632 until 1772, when the Paralupi family inherited it.
Some of the farm buildings and the family chapel were built by Giuseppe Paralupi and his son, Bartolomeo, in the early 1800s, as were the lateral extensions of the villa. The citrus garden greenhouses, however, were built by the agronomist Carlo Paralupi (1821-1890), first elected mayor of Luzzara, of which a marble bust can still be seen in the villa garden. The current garden structure is also attributable to his botanical expertise; in the springtime and autumn, in particular, you can admire the fine colours of the mixed foliage.
Today, the main entrance to the villa is on Via Malgarine, framing the view of a long avenue of poplars, at the end of which is a bridge that crosses the surrounding moat. Indeed, the property was once surrounded by a double moat (still partially visible), of which the larger ring followed the boundary of the property and the smaller one ran around the park of around 9,000 square metres.
The current garden, recovered between the late 1980s and early 1990s, displays great Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich. (bald cypress), arranged in rows along the moat to form an exedra, and ancient exotic and native plants. The central part of the garden consists of a grass lawn, which has in part replaced the plants that could not be recovered.
The court remained in the Paralupi family until the death of Maria Ferrari, widow of Valente Paralupi, in 1963, who left it to Guastalla Cathedral. The villa, park and stables were used as the set for Bernardo Bertolucci’s film Novecento (1900) in 1976.
(From S. Torresan, Il giardino di Villa Paralupi, in I giardini dei Gonzaga 2018, p. 455)