It was the Odescalchi, one of the oldest noble families in Como, who commissioned the building from the famous architect Simone Cantoni between 1782 and 1789.
The Odescalchi wanted a sumptuous residence that would give the family prestige and the architect from Ticino created a masterpiece of Lombard neoclassicism.
It passed from the Odescalchi family to the Raimondi and then the Visconti of Modrone.
The latter under took considerable renovation work that included the affixing of the Visconti family coat of arms and creation of an English garden behind the villa.
The gigantic tree that gave its name to the villa no longer exists, but the Italian garden on the front and the English park at the back are rich in centuries-old trees and tall trees.
In 1925 it was sold to the Municipality of Como as avenue for cultural events. Since then it has become the natural centre for cultural activities in Como.