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The heliotherapy
"Casa del Sole Marisa Rossi”

Historical notes
The heliotherapy "Casa del Sole Marisa Rossi” is located in Varese- Barasso, within the Campo dei Fiori National Park.  Lying at 517m above sea level it is surrounded by a typical alpine landscape.
The structure, commissioned by the industrialist Leonida Rossi and designed by the architect Schiavocampo, was built in 1935 and donated to the Municipality of Comerio, which at that time also encompassed the towns of Luvinate and Barasso.  The aim was to create a place for the enjoyment of children in memory of Marisa Rossi.
Leonida Rossi, the owner of the renowned pipe manufacturing factory in Barasso, established in the late nineteenth century, was born in Milan but lived in Luvinate.  In 1934 Marisa Rossi, the only daughter of the industrialist, died of typhus at the age of eleven.  In her memory her parents decided to build an open-air sanatorium to allow local children to spend the summer in a healthy place. The building was opened in 1937 and in that summer it began operating regularly by welcoming the children of employees of the company "Smith Brothers" and the children of the municipality.

In 1941 ownership of the property was transferred to the “Youth of the Italian Littorio”, who continued on with the original use of heliotherapy; the estate continued to operate even after the war when in 1946 it was acquired by the Youth Italian.  Although beginning to suffer from economic problems, the estate continued to operate until the end of the summer in 1965.

In 1973 an agreement was signed between the Region of Lombardy and the Italian youth, stating that property of the latter be made accessible to the Regional Commission in order to identify its intended use.  In 1976 the City Council of Barasso asked for the transfer of the Heliotherapy Marisa Rossi and in 1986 Region of Lombardy granted this transfer with the donation of the building to the City of Barasso.

Due to the initiative of a group of enlightened philanthropists, the idea of a children’s holiday camp was born in England in the nineteenth century for the treatment of tuberculosis and malnutrition in children.   In Italy the first settlement was built on the beach of Viareggio in the mid eighteen hundreds and in the following years the number of these holiday camps rapidly increased, especially within Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. The development of such initiatives in the three different locations; lakes, mountain and coast, was part of the fascist regime of welfare politics, contributing both a therapeutic and propaganda element. Many establishments have a significant architectural value because many of the ‘modernist architects’ contributed to building projects during the fascist regime, hence it is referred to as "architecture of the colonies".

The heliotherapy "Casa del Sole Marisa Rossi" stands on an undulating site. The building project was inspired by the typical lines of fascist architecture, although excessive attention to detail is evident in comparison to other structures from the same period.  The building was designed on two levels: the higher level housed the kitchens, pantries and dining hall, whilst the lower level included toilets, changing rooms and showers.
On entering the building from the main courtyard an alter with an inscription dedicated to Marisa Rossi is clearly visible.  Behind this is a water tower from which flags are flown.   To the left is the great hall with its three huge full height glass windows which hold a beautiful view of a lake and woodland.  Access to the building is by way of a stone stairway which leads to the main room.  The stone floors have been remarkably well preserved as has the rest of the building.  Only the south and east sides are inaccessible due to renovation works which were started in 1994.


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