The Butterfly House
Built using stone and self-supporting glass, the luminous Butterfly House is a splendid greenhouse, fully climate-controlled for temperature and humidity. It was designed and constructed by Emilio Faroldi and Maria Pilar Vettori of Studio Faroldi e Associati, a unique example of the use of spider-glass (a type of structural glass used for this purpose).
The Butterfly House was built where the disused greenhouses once stood. Inaugurated in 2007, the house harmonizes quite well with the Garzoni Garden—as if nothing had ever changed.
The butterflies, which come as chrysalises from specialized farms, develop in a particular incubator here. However, they prove to be so comfortable in this environment that they reproduce spontaneously. For this reason, if you look closely, you can see their eggs deposited on the leaves or branches, or other leaves gnawed up to the stem by the caterpillars that store energy by devouring the tender parts of their favorite plant before hanging from a branch and forming the chrysalis from which the butterfly will emerge
Unlike caterpillars, butterflies feed on the sugary nectar that they suck from flowers or from open fruits that the structure’s custodians prepare especially for them. Some fruits are “self-produced”, like the papaya, with a thriving plant in the Butterfly House, or the oranges that beautify the Garzoni Garden’s many avenues.
The Collodi Butterfly House is inhabited by hundreds of butterflies native to tropical or equatorial regions and is home to the largest and most colorful. These living specimens fly freely about in the lush tropical garden abounding in plants, flowers, and fruits—a perfect re-creation of their original environment. Here, butterflies and moths court, feed, and reproduce, in perfect harmony with their host environment, free from enemy insects and spiders owing to the small birds that feed on them yet do not touch the caterpillars or butterflies.
A walk into this fascinating world lets you observe all stages of development from egg to butterfly, note differences between diurnal butterflies and nocturnal butterflies (moths), and understand the defensive and communicative colors and designs used for survival by the caterpillars or on the butterfly’s wings. Indeed, they threaten and deceive predators, help butterflies conceal themselves or find a breeding partner.
The Butterfly House has brought back an incredible population of butterflies to the Garzoni Garden—reminiscent of those that flew among these flower beds before typical modern-day agricultural and industrial pollution altered their appearance and reduced their numbers.
Like the Garzoni Garden surrounding it, the Butterfly House is a beautiful environment, a human construction modeling nature. Furthermore, it is not merely beautiful. Through the wonder and attention aroused by its beauty, it works to introduce and understand that, even when humans interfere, animals and plants can and must maintain their natural balance due to the proper interaction and interdependence between living creatures.