He watches you and you feel really small. His gaze is almost threatening, but you focus on the lightness of those enormous drapes that appear to be made of wispy fabric rather than plaster. You seem to feel the wind caressing your skin as it moves towards the giant and causes his clothing to billow out. Then you see the expression on his face, the details of his hands and the majesty that seems to radiate out of the eyes of those men who made Italy and beyond.
Vincenzo Vela. That name isn’t new to you and now you remember: you’d seen one of his sculptures in a museum in Rome and were surprised to discover that they devoted so much space to an artist from Ticino. It’s not easy to emerge in a country so rich in culture. But he managed it. After leaving Ligornetto, the Swiss sculptor studied in Milan and Venice, signed up as a volunteer in the Swiss civil war of Sonderbund and then went on to find fame and fortune in Turin. In 1862 he commissioned the construction of the villa in Ligornetto, designed to house his most important pieces.