Exedra Square or Theatre Square

Count Bartolomeo III Arese built a grand and stately mansion on a preexisting 16th-century structure in Cesano Maderno, which took shape between 1654 and 1663 based on an architectural and urban project inspired by Gerolamo Quadrio and Francesco Castelli, probably together with Gian Carlo Buzzi and Giovanni Ambrogio Pessina, artists who frequented the courts of Bartolomeo III.


A dramatic representation of the political and social position attained by the family, the buildings were constructed in the centre of a system of urban open spaces arranged on the axis of a rectilinear road cutting through a vast estate. A cornerstone of a system of urban planning and some monumental portals are still present in the EXedra Square, a commemoration of the functions once assigned to it. This was conceived as a space between the world inside the palace and the working class context of Cesano, with which Bartolomeo Arese always felt an urge to relate.
The opening of the Square amplified and widened the palace, thus involving the system of buildings and sanctioning the relation between private and public spaces, as in other stately residences in Brianza, among which Villa Annoni of Briosco and Villa Cusani Tittoni Traversi of Desio that also adhered to the scheme of other aristocratic villas. This private urban space, therefore, comprised an extension of the palace separated from the cobbled street of via Borromeo.
Moreover, Exedra Square is bounded on three sides by a continuous wall interrupted only by a momentous portal with pinnacle columns, that reinforces the perspective scenery of the axis leading to the rectilinear Corso Libertà.
The perimeter walls characterized by a pinnacle of stones arranged randomly and finished off with white plaster, alternate with segments of lines of stones overlapped in areas corresponding to pilasters and small niches, two of which on the horizontal axis are enriched with sculptures, small cupid sculptures and big allegorical masks.
Exedra Square represents, therefore, a triumph of the Baroque in the Brianza territory, where banquets, shows and fairs were held in a contained urban setting which was part of the hospitality ritual of the Arese family and gave the idea of life in a villa in the 17th-18th centuries. Allegorical accents are not missing; there are clear references to abundance, good government and good management of waterways proposed in an almost cosmogonic vision. The fountains, which are no longer operating, in fact, present some small cupid sculptures and figures related to Roman-Greek mythology in the upper portion, which used to spurt water to simulate rain. Under them were big anthropomorphic masks symbolizing the rivers which, thanks to the effort of man, carry the water to the sea without causing damage. Finally, in the lower portion are decorations that depict the vastness of the sea represented by three joyfully darting fishes donated by the gods and which have reached the sea through the river.
Restored in the first part of the 20th century, the square maintained its unpaved grounds for a long time and was bordered by low ornamental shrubs which were removed in the early decades of the 20th century. However, in 1997 the ground was restored with cobbled stones and slabs from the river when Exedra Square was subjected to a major restoration that gave back dignity to this space.