The Villa Tesio Stud

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How to get

By car: exit the A26 from Milan at Castelletto Ticino, and continue in the direction of Arona. After crossing the bridge over the railway line, go along Via Madonna della Motta, Via C. Battisti and Via Volontari della Libertà to reach Via Monte Rosa; go along this street in the direction of Dormelletto as far as Via Lagoni.  Leave your car in the large car park, and follow the itineraries and the paths indicated by the Park authorities to reach the farms of the Surga and the Cucchetta. You can then turn towards the south past the ruined Torbera farmhouse, to arrive at the Montaccio. You can also reach this last farmhouse by car.
By train: the nearest railway station is Dormelletto.


From the viewpoint of a busy road lined with a succession of prosaic buildings and shop signs, the bucolic picture presented by Villa Tesio is astonishing.The stud farm is approached by a long avenue bordered with a double row of cypresses, and surrounded by broad green meadows enclosed by classic fences: a picturesque setting for the thoroughbred horses that grace the scene.

Horses from these stables left a permanent mark on the international horse-racing scene, and took the stud farm’s emblem – a St Andrew’s cross, painted on an outer wall of the villa – into the highest circles of the sport.

The story goes back to 1898, when Federico Tesio started a stud farm in this place where the climate was damp but the ground dry. The “Wizard of Dormello”, as he became called, was probably the first racehorse breeder to follow Mendel’s scientific approach to genetics, applying research and selective experimentation to horse-breeding.

It was this research that gave rise to the famous “Dormello-Olgiatabreed, following the partnership that Tesio formed in the thirties with the stud farm of Mario Incisa Della Rocchetta. A combination of inspired intuition and successful cross-breeding produced horses like Nearco, Bellini, Donatello II, and above all Ribot, “the horse of the century”, which dominated world horse-racing in the 50s.

The Dormello-Olgiata breed continued to produce champions in later years. Nowadays the only horses to be seen in the paddocks are a few brood mares and some racing colts. To appreciate just how large this prestigious stud farm was in the years of its greatest successes, you can drive and then walk to some of the farm buildings where the tradition started by Tesio is still kept alive.