The large territory where today shines Villa Maria Pia, anciently called ‘Cuguttu’, was home in the nineteenth century, an agricultural penal colony. The territory acquired its present name of ‘Maria Pia’ – in honor of the eldest daughter of Umberto II of Savoy – in 1934, when the penal colony ceased its course and agricultural activities were taken over by a few farming families Ferrara.
It is one of the most important monuments of Alghero, and includes elements of interest heterogeneous socio-historical (the penal colony nineteenth century; the massive processes of transformation and upgrading of the Sardinian territories during the Fascist era), and architecture, embodied quest ‘last not only by the many buildings dating back to 1864 that dot the area, and among them the Villa, but two old wells (well-tank pit and underground) parts of a complex hydraulic system underground; as well as from a tomb in underground vintage even older (buckets. XIV-XVI) called “knight’s tomb, which still retains the original Gothic decorations [C].
the enclosure walls
The complex, covering an area of about one hectare, is enclosed by high walls of sandstone plastered, and has two main entrances placed on axis: one, adjacent to the pond Calich (Viale S. Burruni) [A] composed of two pillars with hanging rusticated, topped by planters truncated conical; the other, diametrically opposed (Via the Tramontana), towards the sea [B]. Its boundary wall is marked by smooth mirrors, alternate pilasters in rich moldings, and embellished with 16 planters truncated cone shape (photo below left).
Two other inputs, of secondary importance, open along the border through paths that led to the old stables.
The main building, rectangular in plan, is located in the highest part of the terrain. It is distributed on two levels, and has a large central courtyard (formerly a “compluvium” aimed at the recovery of rainwater) [G] (photo below, right).
The vast halls of the ground floor [H, I] were originally engaged in prison. In the opposite direction of the court, were located the offices and homes of the prison staff; This area currently hosts the reception. The walls facing the courtyard are marked by an alternation of windows on two overlapping orders. The other part of the structure consists of two floors and has, at different levels, long corridors overlooking the inner courtyard. Many rooms retain original features: arched windows with grilles, lintels trachyte, barrel vaults and cross vaults, ceilings with wooden beams …
The Villa is surrounded by gardens with more than 12 wells / houses. Against the walls of the border there are pools of water semicircular, certainly in the past used for irrigation of the fund. It has also a well tank [D] (photo below left) and a well underground currently being studied [F] (pictured right), residues of what was to be, probably, a complex hydraulic system underground aimed at ensuring the supply of water to the inhabitants of the area.