Aviary or Bird Pavilion

The Aviary Pavilion stands on the walkway flanked by the very long wing of poplar-cypress trees planted after the recent restructuring of the garden. The walkway was built in the second half of the 17th century on the same axis as the transverse path that corresponded with the limit of the parterre laid out in square flowerbeds. The square building had balanced proportions, rose on two levels and was covered by a roof with underlying wood beams.

The monumental facade faces the park in which the project designer availed of the Palladian motif / Serlian window – a wise architectonic solution. Here he inserted two ionic columns placed on a low base with an equal number of pilasters on either side lying on the same support, and joined in couples by a mix-style cornice. From here a simple cornice spread out to underline the rounded arch surmounting the column stems, flanked by two simple rectangular openings. In the internal walls instead, big lunettes open out, today devoid of metallic mesh and cages.
Traces of the mannerism style that referred to the more eclectic Roman examples of bird pavilions like those of the Farnese Palace on the Palatine hill and the Medici Palace in the Pincio garden, are found transfigured in the monumental architectural trail. It is a celebrated manifestation of the excessive largeness of a space assigned to recreation purposes, but nonetheless in compliance with the contingent need to provide a sumptuous meal of small and succulent birds. This area was thus directly connected to the banquet rites of the Arese family, well known among the Milanese nobility of Lombardy, in which sumptuous and ”trendy banquets” were never missing, to celebrate the gatherings of friends and important guests. This small architecture moreover, was connected to specific places and structures outside the mansion, that had to guarantee a series of services to the family and noble owners. Among these was the Gioco de’ tordi, (game of thrushes) located at the extreme west of the town of Cesano Maderno, that represented one of the many hunters’ huts present in the Brianza Groane uplands, for bird hunts.
The Bird Pavilion was probably designed by Francesco Maria Castelli, an architect and engineer who worked in Milan in the second half of the 17th century, and also as an agronomist surveyor and painter, assigned by the Arese family to renovate some parts of the garden.
The internal area, now empty and falling to pieces, reveals evident traces of frescoes on the walls and the vaulted squinch, that were representations of bird themes set in the woods.
Also the clefts in the walls, mostly found in the upper parts, were the discreet nests for the birds that took refuge.