In 1911 Pompeo Mariani decided to have a great atelier built, that later on will be named “Specola”; the project is again of his friend, the architect Rodolfo Winter and the artist followed the works day by day.
For this reason many pictures concerning the most important painter’s ateliers of the time were sent to Villa Mariani, both friends and colleagues - not necessarily friends of him - and the architects Brogli and Savoldi made suggestions. The artist wanted a studio of very big dimensions, not only in order to paint, but also to house his many art collections (carpets, pieces of porcelain and majolica, ancient clothes, arms and so on).

The building technique was based on avant-guard principles if we consider the period; deep in the rock were dug the foundations with the insertion of metal structures to better support the weight of other potential floors; in the lower part some cellars and laboratories were built which, though being in this lower position, enjoy a wonderful sight of the seaside and are very bright; the basement housed the great atelier of around 250 square metres of floor made of valuable wood, wide glass windows on both sides and a skylight in the higher part; all this was adorned with curtains that let the light filter inside, and in the final part was created a sort of apse in which they built a big French fireplace of the 18th century made of sandstone.
  The higher part of the fireplace had itself a big glass window to light also the final part of the atelier. An intermediate floor was built above the entrance to house potential guests willing to see the works of the artist; among them – starting from 1913 Queen Margherita di Savoia the Rotschild, the Bernasconi, the actor Max Linder, Edmondo De Amicis, Ugo Ometti, Edoardo Ximenes and Emilio Treves, his friends painters (Piana, Previati, Kleudgen, and so on).
In the small entrance hall was set a wall bookcase made by Eugenio Quarti, while on the opposite side was placed a big table made of mahogany coming from the nautical hall of an English sailing ship of the end of the 19th century.
A beautiful interior glass window completed the structure separating the entrance from the studio itself, decorated with nice lamps of Giovanni Lomazzi. All the interior accessories were chosen by the painter in person who in particular devoted himself to the choice of the wonderful radiators made of cast iron decorated with flowers and of the big central boiler from Germany.
Different works were carried out: outside, above the entrance door, was set a beautiful wrought iron fence made by Mazzucotelli, later on a pinnacle of the Dome of Milan was put on the left side while on the right side was put a nice light lamp and again on the left side a nice crib made of china clay.
Starting from 1919 in his studio in Bordighera were brought most of the pieces of furniture and objects of the two studios in Milan, so that it was made necessary to build an additional storey. The “Specola” became in this way the only artistic point of reference of the painter and was conformed to the ateliers of the other European great artists of the period. It was atelier, meeting place for his friends, place for collections and from time to time place for small personal exhibitions. Unfortunately in 1925 in front of the South side of the “Specola” was erected a huge building for the housing of a group of French nuns; Mariani tried in vain to oppose to the projected, so that this event may have been an aggravation for his death. It is necessary to underline the fact that the “Specola” represents one of the most important works of the beginning of the 20th century in the area, at the same time it has been necessary to revaluate the work of Rodolfo Winter in the field of national architecture.
It is no doubt interesting to highlight how the artist conceived the atelier and also to have information about the firms of the time that supplied the necessary materials for painting; in fact catalogues and purchase orders of different supplying firms were found; the most important names are Calcaterra of Milan, Lorilleux of Paris, Roweny and sons of London, Le Franc & C. of Paris, Michele Huber of Munich in Bavaria, Luigi Veneziani Muller of Stuttgart and others.
In the atelier at the end of 1920 up to 19 easels - of different sizes- were housed, a wonderful folding ladder for paintings of great dimensions, three big hoists to uplift those works, an infinite series of accessories for the cleaning of brushes, a very big press for the production of engravings and monotypes, period furniture of different types, Japanese and Chinese prints, precious fabrics as a background for women that set for the artist, an important collection of ancient clothes dating back to the 17th and 18th century, of arms – some of them coming from Mosè Bianchi’s studio, a series of photos of ateliers of his friend painters Muzzioli, Tito Conti, Ferragutti Visconti Aleardo Villa and others, the original cases of the Biennale of Venice of 1907 and 1914 in which he had sent his works, Christopher Columbus bronze bust that the city of Genoa had given him in 1892 on the day when he was awarded of the silver medal during the Columbus celebrations and many other objects.
Now, speaking about our times, the person who is writing saw for the first time the atelier, when he was 70 years old, completely empty. Where were all the materials that used to be part of it? After a long and careful research, thanks to period pictures, a great part of them have been found spread everywhere, in cellars or in remote corners of the houses. After integral refurbishing works that lasted two years, concerning both exterior parts and interior ones, paying attention to any single detail with the help of the Liguria Fine Arts Office and of the studio “Architetti Alborno” of Bordighera, the “Specola” has come back to its ancient splendour.
The great variety of materials has made it difficult to choose for the new setting of the objects. In 1960 the notary Pompeo Lo Mazzi, heir of the artist, had made a reconstruction that was different from the original one; in fact the studio was more like a big living room adorned with beautiful paintings; the present restoration, made on the period pictures, makes the place more realistic and closer to historical truth. We still believe that any suggestions may be useful for an ultimate setting.