the history

Bear hunting

This unique and impressive architectural complex, its suggestive originality, its secular park, its tasteful location in the serene and restful panorama between Lake Lugano and the high mountains, is the true and most precious jewel of the province of Varese. The house was built around 1400 AD by unknown architects, commissioned by the Mozzoni family, feudal lords of large estates around Varese. Originally this building was supposed to be used as a hunting lodge, because of very good hunting - including bear-hunting - in the near surroundings. According to Cicco Simonetta, the brothers Agostino and Antonio Mozzoni, who were refined hosts and excellent hunters, used to stage exciting bear-hunts for the Dukes of Milan. One of these hunting expeditions became a memorable historical event. Galeazzo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan, found himself alone, facing a wounded angry bear. A brave rescue by Agostino Mozzoni and his dog saved the Duke from certain death. In gratitude for this gesture, the Mozzoni family was rewarded with favors and some tax exemptions that increased the families power and authority.

Ascanio Mozzoni

Later on, the whole Mozzoni family established itself at Bisuschio and commissioned the brothers Campi of Cremona and their school to decorate the walls of the house with frescoes. They were commissioned to do the work around 1500 AD, and the decoration was completed in 1559. Ascanio Mozzoni commissioned the seven tiered gardens in 1560, partly inspired by his travels to Florence and Rome.
In the 16th century, the last descendant of the Mozzoni family, Angela, married a Count Cicogna, thus starting the new Cicogna Mozzoni lineage. The Cicogna were natives of the province of Novara, but had received Milanese citizenship by ducal decree in 1492.
The serenity that must have reigned in this house is illustrated on the frieze between the ground and the first floor. All is a festive dance, a lively play of putti leading hunting dogs, racing carts, embracing each other, and holding escutcheons. The third side shows pagan gods such as Jupiter and Diana the huntress; in the three oval frames of the frieze are representation of Arethusa at the fountain, and other forest nymphs. The small arches below the cornice of the roof are filled with moral mottoes and aphorisms, which have faded over time.

The italian garden (Photo by Beatrice Marchesini)

"The exterior walls of the Casino, facing on the court, are simple but elaborately decorated with frescoes. The ground rises so rapidly that the long House Terrace west of the Casino is level with the second story . This terrace carries around the south-west corner of the private garden; and a wall and hedge, continuing at the same height round the south and east sides to the house again, give one the distinct feeling of being in a “giardino segreto”. A more thoroughly fascinating spot could not well be imagined. The flower-beds are bordered with dwarf box, and are of pleasing shape; and the west side, made unsymmetrical by the width of the house there, is filled by two balustraded pools that mark the cross axis." ROBERT WHEELWRIGHT (January 1914)
You can download a document (in italian) that explains the history of the Mozzoni family, from “il Calandari dra famiglia Bosina par ur 2003”, Varese 2002 pp. 44-70, 71-82 written by Gianpiero Buzzi e Leonida Besozzi.