The garden of Villa Invernizzi has rightfully become one of the most curious places in Milan. It is home to a colony of pink flamingos brought here by an Italian cheese tycoon. Today, flamingo spotting is a viral activity, and curious can spy on them from the villa gate.
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Pink flamingos at Villa Invernizzi: a secret of Milan
Villa Invernizzi, where the Milanese flamingos live, is a private building, but finding the exact address online is relatively easy. Yet they stay as hidden as possible behind the perimeter of trees around the gate of Villa Invernizzi. Privacy is at home; the villa stays closed to the public, and the legacy of their last owners protects the birds.
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO MILAN
Before you go, buy the Milan Pass City Card online to enter the city’s museums, including La Scala and the Duomo, board the hop-on hop-off tourist bus, and travel free on public transport for the card’s duration.
To stay connected in Italy, remember to buy an Airalo eSim online, with data and phone coverage for your trip to Milan.
Despite being born in the wild, the first flamingos adapted well to live at Villa Invernizzi. They made the offspring we can see now. To stay healthy and keep their feathers shiny, the flamingoes eat a mash of crustaceans and vitamins daily.
Some of them reach twenty-five years of age, and they do not fly away because keepers regularly shorten the length of their wings. They also reproduced easily, and some young birds moved to Parco Zoo Punta Verde near Lignano Sabbiadoro to avoid overcrowding.
How to spot the flamingos at Villa Invernizzi
The villa where the pink flamingos live is closed to the public, as is the garden, both managed by the Invernizzi Foundation. However, we can snoop through the gate without feeling the slightest embarrassment as passers-by do. To see the flamingos, stop in front of the railings, look for a place where the hedges are sparser, and browse.
Two different species of flamingos live together at Villa Invernizzi, the African Phoenicopterus roseum and the Chilean Phoenicopterus chilensis. The animals are all born in captivity, offspring of the flamingos imported legally from Chile and Africa in the 1970s by the Invernizzi family. Italy only joined CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in 1980.
More about Villa Invernizzi in Milan
In order to create a green area in the centre of Milan, Romeo Invernizzi bought two adjacent buildings and demolished one to make an area for the flamingos to live. This Italian cheese tycoon did not like the city. Only gave in to his wife Enrica Pessina’s insistence on the condition that he could see the flamingos from his studio window.
On the internet, you can find no information on the Invernizzi Foundation, which inherited the villa and the other properties of Romeo Invernizzi and Enrica Pessina. Around seventy researchers from the Foundation who work in biology, medicine and food science live in the villa today.
Regarding its architectural style, Villa Invernizzi is an excellent example of Milanese Art Nouveau. In addition to the flamingo park, it has a hanging garden, a rose garden and a magnolia garden that denote the Invernizzi couple’s love of nature.
Romeo Invernizzi: from cheese to flamingos
Romeo Invernizzi is mainly known in Italy for having successfully led the family dairy business founded by his father Giuseppe. The story of Invernizzi is true of family entrepreneurship and resourcefulness because Romeo Invernizzi was already working there as a child with the task of milking cows and only took over management with his cousin Remo when his father died.
Romeo Invernizzi’s genius was to create an in-house advertising agency instead of relying on external advertisers. This move allowed him to create characters and advertisements that were a huge commercial success in the 1960s and 1970s, such as ‘Susanna tutta panna’ (Susan all cream), the cow Carolina, Camillo the crocodile, the bull Hannibal, and the kittens Geo and Gea.
How to reach Villa Invernizzi in Milan
Villa Invernizzi is the Quadrilatero del Silenzio, a quiet residential area bounded by Via Mozart, Via Serbelloni, Via Cappuccini and Via Vivaio. The neighbourhood earned the name Quadrilatero del Silenzio (Silent Quadrilateral) because the noise of city traffic almost disappears here. This area is an unexpected oasis of peace, surrounded by Art Nouveau buildings. You can get here on foot from the Palestro underground station.
Via Cappuccini, 7
Where to stay in Milan
Milan is one of Italy’s largest cities and, for this reason, offers every possible type of accommodation. Park Hyatt Milano is the most luxurious hotel in the heart of the fashion district in Milan. It’s near the Cathedral and La Scala Theatre, making it an excellent tourist location. For cheaper yet elegant accommodation, try Aparthotel Meneghino, within walking distance of Milan Cathedral and the Milan Fashion District. B&B Le Dimore Suites Milano is also a great option with a terrace and views of the inner courtyard.
Spying on pink flamingos from the gate of Villa Invernizzi was amusing and even a bit surreal. It was funny to find myself in the company of other onlookers pretending not to paparazzi the flamingos. Let me know in the comments if you already know this Milanese oddity.