The historical garden of Villa Ghirlanda Silva is located in the city centre of Cinisello Balsamo. It is a testimony to the cultural evolution and the changes in taste that took place between the 17th and 19th centuries as expressions of a deep rethinking of the Italianate style according to the new garden fashion imported from England.
The garden of Villa Ghirlanda Silva was originally designed in the formal style of Italian Renaissance at the behest of Donato II Silva; it was later freed from rigid Illuministic schemes thanks to the intervention of Donato's nephew, Ercole Silva, a very cultured man, who was impressed by the Romantic views on informal landscaping to the point of putting them into practice, as testified by his treatise Dell'arte dei giardini inglesi (On the art of English gardens), given to prints in 1801 and reissued in 1813. The engravings adorning the treatise testify to the garden complexity in the early 19th century, with the fake ruins of a Temple of Janus and the idyllic Temple of Fortuna Avita surmounting a hill with a grotto at its foot. In the mid-19th century, those elements were replaced at the hand of Carlo Ghirlanda Silva with new Neo-Gothic and Eclectic buildings, such as a Scottish Lodge and a Swiss Chalet, which can still be admired, half concealed among lush shrubs and thickets of trees. The garden preserves almost intact the charm of Ercole Silva's landscape, as the eye sweeps from the villa to the vast central lawn lined with trees, and then to the denser groves towards the garden walls, with some extraordinary examples of century-old trees.
The heritage site now hosts the headquarters of the Historical Garden Network Association ReGiS, founded in 2008 thanks to the partnership of technical-scientific Institutions as well as owners and managers of historic gardens. The network includes Palazzo Borromeo Arese (Cesano Maderno), Villa Annoni (Cuggiono), Villa Cusani Traversi Tittoni (Desio), Villa Visconti Borromeo Litta (Lainate), Villa Mylius and Villa Zorn (Sesto San Giovanni), Villa Reale (Monza), Parco Sola Cabiati (Gorgonzola) and Parco Ex Sanatorio Regina Elena (Legnano).