During the period in which the Este family ruled the Duchy of Ferrara, Tresigallo was a small rural community on the banks of the Po di Volano, located on the plains to the east of the city. It was populated by farmers and occasionally by the Ferrara nobility who were proprietors of certain estates, many of which were owned by the Bishop of Ferrara’s Land Revenue Office.
Between 1500 and 1530 Alessandro Feruffino, a nobleman of Piedmontese origin, “magnificent and generous knight” and captain of Duke Alfonso I d’Este’s militia, ordered the building of the Palazzo Pio mansion inside an estate known as “La Motta”.
The properties were part of the dowry of his wife, Caterina Machiavelli Dalle Frutta who inherited the lands in Tresigallo, including cultivated fields, woodlands and marshlands, from her father Gaspare.
The name of the mansion dates back to the XVII century when the Bishop of Ferrara’s Land Revenue Office, original owners of the property, on the death of the last proprietor without an heir, conferred the entire estate to Cardinal Carlo Pio who, after his death in 1689, was succeeded by Prince Luigi Pio and his nephew Francesco Pio.
Following this, the estate became the property of other families, the last of which were the Matteucci brothers who sold it to the Tresigallo local administration.
Little is known of the sixteenth-century building, drastically transformed over the following centuries to accommodate the various uses that were made of it – from an elegant holiday residence for hunting parties in the surrounding woods and farmlands, to a mill guesthouse (demolished in 1895) and warehouse.
As evidenced by the walling-up of most of the windows in the elevations and the demolition of the long colonnaded porch on the ground floor, which separated the main entrance from the courtyard opposite, the building has undergone significant changes over the course of time.
The tower erected on one side of the building, evidently served for the duties of supervision and protection of the adjacent residence and its outbuildings (animal shelters and stables, bakery and barns, workshops, housing for the estate managers and labourers, a fish pond and the icehouse).
In his book about the Delizie, Ugo Malagù referred to “borders decorated with frescoes” that he personally noted in the 1940s, both on the walls and wooden ceilings.
In 2009 the historical building became the property of the Tresigallo local administration.