Noble Courtyard

The ground floor of the palace is laid out around a centre square, that leads to numerous internal rooms and interfaces with the different areas of the complex. On the western side is an entrance atrium, externally characterised by a façade based on three sections developing vertically (corresponding to the first floor with halls around the major hall), decorated with a brick skirting in full view, framed by a double line of stones, and a big central door in rustication masonry, embellished by Ionian pilaster strips and surmounted by a small wrought iron balcony.

Internally the wall has a dual portico supported by rustication columns of the Doric type, following a very diffused trend in the villas of Milan, among which was also the urban mansion owned by the Arese Visconti Litta family in the centre of the Lombard capital. The southern interior façade of the courtyard presents an architectonic volume, spelt out on the ground floor by a regular sequence of rectangular doors and windows, while the northern wing is the more ancient fulcrum of the home the Arese family built in the 16th century.
The eastern wall of the courtyard, in fact, presents a seven-fornix portico that leads to the different wings of the mansion, and is rich in mixtilinear cornices and niches with sculptures and half-busts depicting Roman emperors. Laid out in two horizontal overlaying planes and a vertical rhythmic sequence of hollows and filled spaces, the eastern perspective of the courtyard’s upper section presents a charming loggia, over the last centuries used as a venue for banquets, service corridors, and during the winter season, as a roofed balcony.
The rich decorative system, introduced by various commissioners-owners of the Cesano mansion, is translated internally in a profusion of wall paintings and a refined collection of art works that once adorned the halls. Externally it assumed the form of elaborate sculptural cycles, of which some of the most important ones were statues found in the garden of the lavish noble home and in the cycle of Cesars. This is made up of a series of 14 half-busts of Roman emperors with laurel crowns, placed in the niches above the doors and windows of the internal portico of the first floor courtyard, in the adjacent loggia and the façade overlooking the park. The series of sculptures located in the portico depict Alexander the Great, ideal symbol of an emperor, followed by portrayals of Julius Cesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Titus, Domitian, Nerva, Trajan, Adrian and Marcus Aurelius. It was not unusual for a noble home of the 16th-17th centuries to host these figures since the trend of the era was to adorn lordly buildings with the effigies of the old Roman emperors, as the distinguishing marks of modern monarchies. In this specific case, the symbol was for the role assumed by Bartolomew III Arese as counselor of the prince and for the power assigned to his lineage in the Milanese senate.