August 08, 2011
After having been commissioned as an officer in the Imperial navy in 1852, Maximilian decided to move to Trieste where he stayed for increasingly longer and more frequent periods. He rented a villa on the slopes of the hill of San Vito from Niccolò Marco Lazarovich with a clause in the contract that allowed him to make all the modifications he considered necessary. Subsequently, during the completion of the Castle of Miramare, the Archduke had a small castle called the Gartenhaus or Castelletto built which reproduced on a smaller scale the façade of the main castle and which he lived in off and on until Christmas 1860. The Castelletto, situated in a panoramic area, faces Grignano on one side and on the other a parterre surrounded by trees and on a clearing in front of greenhouses at the centre of which there is a fountain. Modelled on eclectic forms on a square base with a terrace facing the Castle, the tower and the arbour entrance, the Castelletto has a small number of simply furnished rooms. On the ground floor there is a decoration on plaster painted to resemble wood. On the first floor, on the other hand there is a decoration very similar to the one in Villa Lazarovich which can be connected to Maximilian’s decision to transfer to the Castelletto his own part of the ornaments of the Villa which was his first residence in Trieste. In fact, the rooms in Turkish and German styles and the room decorated with panels of female figures present strong parallels between the two buildings and highlight the artistic tendencies of the time: numerous decorations, walls covered in paintings, many ornaments, heavy curtains and rooms crowded with furniture.
The Castelletto is closely linked to the tragic history of Maximilian and Charlotte. It was here that Charlotte stayed upon her return from Mexico with a nervous breakdown, between the end of 1866 and the beginning of 1867, while awaiting her return to Belgium. It also housed part of the furnishings of the Castle of Miramare during the period when the Duke of Aosta stayed there.