Day Trips from Milan
Palazzo Arese Borromeo, Cesano Maderno
Palazzo Arese Borromeo
Palazzo Arese Borromeo and Cesano Maderno
This recently renovated palace makes for an easy day or half-day trip just a few miles out of Milan. The magnificent interior of the palace is only open at weekends for guided tours, though the park is open all day, every day, from 10 till dusk. The town of Cesano Maderno also offers a pleasant centre, a museum dedicated to Swatch watches, a bird sanctuary, and its famous furniture makers and their showrooms.
Getting to Cesano Maderno
Trains from Milan's Cadorna Station (Ferrovie Nord) leave for Cesano Maderno every half hour, and the journey takes just over half an hour. Palazzo Arese Borromeo is a short walk (less than ten minutes) from the station. On Sundays and bank holidays it's worth buying a return train ticket, as there is a discount, though for convenience a return ticket is a good idea on any day. From the station, it's only a short walk into the centre of Cesano Maderno, along Corso LibertÓ. Getting off the train, cross the railway lines at the level crossing when the train leaves the station, and head in the opposite direction to the Orologio shopping centre. At traffic lights in just a few hundred yards, you will see the monumental entrance to the old historic centre. Continue to go straight ahead, passing the old and new churches of San Stefano left and right of the road, and Palazzo Borromeo Arese will soon be visible directly ahead.
By car, from Milan take the Superstrada Milano-Meda, which starts from near Piazza Maciachini. Leave at exit 10, signposted Cesano Maderno, and head towards the town centre (brown tourist signs indicating "Palazzi Storici" will help to get to the Palazzo Arese Borromeo). There is a convenient car park to the left of the palace's front, or following the road to the right around the park. Cesano Maderno is about 17 kilometres from Milan.
The Cesano Maderno website has a good deal of useful information, including maps of the town.
Palazzo Arese Borromeo
From March to October (August excluded), guided tours of the palace are generally made on Saturdays at 15:30 and on Sundays at 10:30, 15:30 and 16:00. Groups can be accommodated at other times. See the link to the website below for further details.
The Baroque Palazzo Arese Borromeo is a fine example of the kind of building local nobles tended to erect in the 17th century to celebrate their importance, their station and their wealth. The local noble in question was Count Bartolomeo Arese, though the building was extended and further embellished over the centuries. The Arese family became related to the much more powerful Borromeo family later on, hence the full name of the palazzo today.
There is an interesting piazza just in front of the palazzo, known as Piazza Esedra, and a second pleasant discovery awaits visitors as soon as they walk into the courtyard. Instead of being faced with four-sides of walls and windows, visitors find themselves looking at an aerial loggia directly in front of them, giving a wonderfully light and open feel to the whole building. The highlight of the visit to the interior is the fresco work, done by the top fresco painters of the time, painters such as Proccacini, Montalto, Nuvolone and Ghisolfi. Recent restorations have brought the rich frescos back to the original splendor. Of particular note are the galleries on the ground floor and the upper floor, as well as the chapel and the very lavish party hall (Salone delle Feste). Many of the trompe l'oeil effects are particularly effective.
The gardens to the back of the house make from a pleasant stroll, though the gardens themselves could be described as a bit "sad". The fact that they were used not so long ago for agricultural purposes, the lack of care and attention, and some horrible cement benches hardly make for the kind of gardens you might expect to be attached to such a magnificent palazzo. Nevertheless, they can provide a welcome sit-down, and perhaps the opportunity to see some white peacocks.
The gardens can be accessed through the palazzo courtyard even when the interior is closed (walk through an entranceway in the far right-hand corner of the courtyard, near to which are toilets). Leave the gardens through an arch at the other side of the villa, to walk past the entrance to the four-star Hotel Borromeo; this brings you into a pleasant courtyard with a bar and cake shop.
There is a bookshop in the palace courtyard, and bars and restaurants around the Piazza Esedra area. Beyond the gates at the far end of the park, there is also a bar.
And While in Cesano Maderno
Piazza Arese very close to the Palazzo Arese Borromeo is a quaint corner of the town, spoilt slightly by excessively enthusiastic restoration. In the square there is a bar and restaurant, as well as the Palazzo Arese Jacini. This building is now the town hall, but it has a pleasant courtyard and also houses the small Swatch Watch Museum, with a large collection of watches (usually only open on Sundays). To the south of the Palazzo Arese Jacini is a small park with children's playground.
Furniture is the key industry of Cesano Maderno and the surrounding area. For some browsing, follow Corso LibertÓ from the station in the opposite direction to that taken to reach the town centre. The old main road, the Via Nazionale dei Giovi, is where many of the main furniture showrooms are located, and it is to be found at the first crossroads (the first set of traffic lights) going west along Corso LibertÓ. And if you fancy that designer sofa but not the designer price, you might well find a crafstman furniture maker willing to make you a look-alike for a fraction of the cost.
The LIPU Bird Sanctuary also lies at the western end of Corso LibertÓ. From here Via Don Orione leads to the sanctuary on the hill. Run by the Italian League for the Protection of Birds (LIPU), it has a small visitor centre, mainly catering for school groups, but offering guided tours to the general public on Sunday afternoons.
Cesano Maderno Town Hall - Piazza Arese 12, Cesano Maderno (MI) - tel 0362 5131
LIPU: Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli (Italian League for the Protection of Birds) - Cesano Maderno sanctuary - tel 0362 546827
Palazzo Arese Borromeo - Piazza Esedra, Cesano Maderno (MI) - tel 0362 513446 / 0362 523624 or 800 338588
Cesano Maderno website: www.cesano.com
Associazione Castelli e Ville aperti in Lombardia: www.castellieville.it
Ferrovie Nord Milano Piazzale Cadorna 14, Milano (MI) - tel 02 20222 - website: www.ferrovienord.it
Food and Drink
The "Il Fauno" restaurant in the Hotel Borromeo is suitably expensive. There are other restaurants, bars and pizzerias close to the entrance of Palazzo Arese Borromeo, and in Piazza Arese. Some of the options include:
Il Fauno - Via Borromeo 29, Cesano Maderno (MI) - tel 0362 540930
La Ringhiera - Via Luini 2, Cesano Maderno (MI) - tel 0362 521395 (close to the station)
Locanda Arese (restaurant) - Piazza Arese 22, Cesano Maderno (MI) - tel 0362 505871
Nesis - Via Milano 68, Cesano Maderno (MI) - tel 0362 540936
© Nigel J. Ross, 2006 (no liability accepted)