The Parque Enrique Lage, popularly known as Parque Lage, at the foot of the Corcovado in the neighborhood of the Botanical Gardens in the city of Rio de Janeiro. This beautiful area of 52 hectares, full of greenery with ancient trees, ponds, a cave, geometrically designed gardens, a tower that seems straight out of a fairy tale, among other very interesting aspects, was the residence of industrialist Enrique Lage, born in 1881, and his wife, the Italian opera singer Gabriella Besanzoni, born in 1890. The story tells that the wealthy Enrique had built this palace for his beloved Gabriella, whom he married in 1925. The site soon became stage to large social gatherings and many parties where the most prominent representatives of Rio society would join. In 1941 Enrique died, leaving Gabriella widowed and childless.
Having no rightfull heirs, and Besanzoni being a foreigner, many of its assets were taken by the national heritage. Gabriella returned to Italy where she taught singing classes, living a much more modest life than before. She died in 1962 at her homeland. A curiosity for us from Santa Catarina (my state in Brazil), Enrique Lage was the main proponent of the Port of Imbituba, already the second largest of our Santa and Bela Catarina. He also founded the Imbituba Port in 1922, a ceramic industry and a farm of major proportions, also a school for the children of stevedores, which bears his name to this day in that city, now under state regency. He also created in 1935 the National Company of Air Navigation, the first aircraft factory in Brazil. The municipality of Imbituba, in our state, was in turn created in 1958 under the name of “Enrique Lage” separated from the municipality of Laguna. But long before Enrique and Gabriella have their beautiful history there, the area passed through the hands of many other great figures of the Brazilian society. A history that began in 1811 when Rodrigo de Freitas Mello and Castro acquires a farm. Fagundes Varela, hiring the English landscape artist John Tyndale in 1840 to redesign the farm. Tyndale prints to the structure of his project all the romanticism found in parks in his homeland. In 1859 the park passes to the hands of Antonio Martins Lage, receiving the name “Parque Lage”. Only in 1920 the property was bought by Enrique, grandson of Antonio.
With the purchase, Enrique hires the Italian architect Mario Vodret as a designer for the palace, beginning its remodeling. Quite different style, mixing trends from different eras, considered eclectic style, Vodret bode well Gabriella Besanzoni. At the center of the building there is the famous courtyard pool, and at its facade, a porch quite prospective. The gardens were geometrically designed, according to the grandeur of the mansion, which overlooks the hill of Corcovado, where is the statue of Christ, the Redeemer. Today the park is protected by the national heritage and exists in its main building, since 1975, the School of Visual Arts, managed by State Secretary of Culture of Rio de Janeiro. There is much more to talk about the history of this fantastic place, but nothing that can be said better represents the Parque Lage than the love between Enrique and Gabriella. At all the details of that place you can feel the romanticism and fascination they felt for each other. JUST WONDERFUL! When in Rio de Janeiro be sure to visit, admission is free and you are sure to spend beautiful moments there.