Between theaters and water games, discovering a meeting place between nature and architecture.
Villa Arconati-FAR merges with its Garden to form a unique organic space, where nature meets architecture, culture meets recreation, and the past meets the present. Subject of subsequent interventions by the Arconati, the Garden, with its theaters and water features, has always been one of the attractions of the Villa, right up to the present day. It is one of the few examples in Italy of a French garden.
Known in Italy and abroad as early as the eighteenth century thanks to the engravings by Marco Antonio Dal Re, the garden is the ideal space to identify with an ancient atmosphere: shady tree-lined avenues, refreshing pools of water, sculptures and theaters will accompany you, today as then, discovering this place.
The Theater is here one of the protagonists: Giuseppe Antonio was a great theatrical enthusiast, who among the others invited Carlo Goldoni, the famous Venetian playwright. But the Theater is also one of the fundamental places of a "garden of Delizia". Set up in the green or built in masonry, adorned with groups of statues or place dedicated to the representation of shows, parties and dances, the Theater was above all a symbolic space of expression of knowledge and culture.
The Diana Theater, equipped with daring hydraulic mechanisms, showed the full range of types of water features distributed in the garden. At the foot of the Andromeda Theater, a mosaic pavement offered the joke of many small spouts that started from the ground, while the Theater of Hercules celebrates the male element, the Arconati lineage.
Another fundamental element of this garden was water: used to support the vegetation of the park, however, was a true protagonist of the pleasure of the Nobles. Numerous, as we have seen, the water games that enlivened the walks and complex the mechanism that regulated them. A system of waterfalls accompanies, for example, the majestic Scalinata dei Draghi that connects the Teatro Grande - also known as "delle Quattro Stagioni" - to the 18th century parterre. The system that regulates the fountains - located in the Tower of the water, which we still see today - is instead a work of avant-garde hydraulic engineering that probably Galeazzo Arconati picks up from the studies of Leonardo da Vinci.
The Tower, which overlooks the Limonaia, already undergoing important restoration, still serves as a hinge element between the Villa and the other bodies of the Garden. La Limonaia was another place of "delight" of the Arconati, in which guests can offer refreshing sorbets.
There are images that document the presence, in the south of the garden, of the Casino di Caccia, unfortunately today lost. It is instead preserved - even if disturbed by time - the Aviary for the breeding of exotic birds and of various species, another testimony of the refined tastes of the Arconati family.
The Garden is today a place of comparison with contemporary culture: it is home to, among other events, the Music Festival that every summer takes place at Villa Arconati-FAR, with major international players. It was on this occasion that the garden hosted, in 1991, an anthological exhibition dedicated to Fausto Melotti, considered by critics one of the greatest sculptors of the contemporary age, curated by Germano Celant. For the future, the Villa's cultural reconversion plan involves the construction of new site specific installations of established artists, flanked by proposals by young creative talents.
The reconstruction of the ancient eighteenth-century Labyrinth is an example: the project, promoted by the Augusto Rancilio Foundation and Threes with the precious contribution of Borotalco, was completed by the Fosbury architecture firm, starting from the study of the engravings by Marco Antonio Dal Re, reproducing the complete map of the park.
The labyrinth was, in fact, one of the elements traditionally constitutive of Italian gardens, as is that of Villa Arconati-FAR. It seemed, therefore, natural to reintroduce this element in the same location and with the same structural design reproduced in the historical recordings of Dal Re, so as to give it back its maximum historical and cultural value.
The construction of the labyrinth was structured in three phases, lasting one year each. The compositional choice of the three stadiums was aimed at obtaining an accomplished and coherent architectural effect every year: the first phase of the hortus conclusus, the second phase of the chicane, the last of the real labyrinth. Hortus conclusus is historically a green space surrounded and isolated from the outside world, where the monks dedicated themselves to retreat and meditation by cultivating plants for food and medicinal purposes. The chicane forces, through two non-axis entrances, to reach a centric space without being able to observe it from the beginning and thus give it greater intimacy. The labyrinth in its last stage is organized on four axes and five concentric orders, following a path that finally leads to its center.