A large house was built during the 1700s to be the base of operations of the “São José da Lagoinha da Gávea” plantation, whose borders used to go from Gávea to Jacarepaguá and Tijuca. These lands used to be known as Morgadio da Asseca, due to its owner’s title Viscount of Asseca.

Years later the property, now divided, was purchase by Ferreira Viana, Imperial Advisor Minister of Justice in the Second Empire. The house, turned into a summer resting place, has welcomed illustrious guests such as the Emperor D. Pedro II himself who personally planted five of the six imposing palm trees that stand guard to the house. They are descendants of the first specimens come from Africa and the first ones to germinate in Brazil; their majesty is a testimony to a glorious moment in our national memory; the library there today is the place where Ferreira Viana the advisor wrote the [ninja-popup id=3429]Lei Áurea[/ninja-popup] (the Golden Law) responsible for abolishing slavery.

In 1932 the house passed into the hands of the Italian Commander Oswaldo Riso. Born in Rome – brilliant award-winning student – he was called in 1906, at the young age of 29, to undertake the position of General Director and International Relations at “Banca D’Itália” – becoming, in his first visit to the country, a committed enthusiast towards the cultural development of the country and the increase of commercial relations between Brazil and Italy.

After being permanently settled here in 1927, he was already a great promoter of Brazilian artistic values; a driving force in the movement for the creation of the Brazilian Philharmonic Orchestra, President of “Juventude Musical Brasileira”, and he made sure to insert his house permanently into the cultural calendar in Rio de Janeiro, promoting soireés, concertos, displays, in summary, providing a meeting place for young talents and internationally acknowledged artists.

In the 80s, after 15 years settled in Italy, Cesarina Riso, firstborn into Italian Commander Oswaldo Riso’s marriage, returns to Brazil and starts working on the restoration and adaptation of the old manor. Hers is an unheard of enterprise; taking the italian “ville” as a reference, and betting on the touristic and commercial potential in the city of Rio de Janeiro, she wanted to create a sophisticated cultural center and social gathering venue with high standards services the likes of which had never been dreamt of until then.

That is how Villa Riso came into being. A house that conveys some of the history of Rio de Janeiro, past and present.

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