On the west border of Novellara, heading towards Guastalla along Via Azelio, you find the Casino di Sotto on your right, situated among the first houses of the town, on your east and farmland to your north and west. The building has around two and a half hectares of connected land, what remains of the twenty-hectare estate that belonged to the Gonzaga family. The property is screened from the road to Guastalla by a box hedgerow and the entrance to the building, which is a rough L shape and has a main east-west body featuring a loggia passing through three archways (today with glass windows), is along an avenue lined by two rows of plane trees, which retraces the 16th century route and outlines the garden symmetrically. The rows of trees, with European spruce to the west and poplars to the east, are interrupted at the fence that has surrounded the garden closest to the residence since 1920, when the original moat was filled in. Beyond the gate on the right of the avenue, there is an orchard and, on the left, a lawn with trees, cut off from the surrounding countryside by a row of horse chestnuts. In front of the Casino, there are a cedar of Lebanon, some yews, black pines and a magnolia almost 100 years old. The north façade of the building looks over another portion of garden, half the length it used to be: a tree-lined lawn with two ancient hazelnuts either side of the steps leading up to the loggia. The current garden structure still reflects to a great degree that created in 1910 by a Piedmontese architect, upon commission by the Lombardini family, and subsequent changes made in the 1920s. Chosen by the Gonzaga as their preferred residence, the Casino di Sotto – already recalled in certain documents from 1502 and the subject of various renovations – was surrounded by a garden with fisheries, with avenues lined with espaliers and pergolas, statues and vases of flowers or citrus trees and, beyond the moat, by land obtained by draining the Crostolo valleys, part agricultural and part woodland. The typically Gonzaga layout of the garden and surrounding land, already reconsidered in 1700 by the will of Maria Teresa Cibo d’Este, was lost in 1800 when the Raynouard family decided to reduce the gardens and woodlands of the property to farmland.
(From S. Torresan, Il giardino del Casino di Sotto, in I giardini dei Gonzaga 2018, pp. 459-461)