Aldo Piacenza immigrated to the United States as a teenager but never forgot his homeland in Italy. Piacenza settled in Highwood, IL, where he sold vegetables and gradually saved and invested for his retirement. He lost all his savings in the stock market crash of 1929 and barely made it through the Great Depression. As he aged, Piacenza increasingly turned to making art.
He immortalized his homeland with murals he painted on the exterior of his home and surrounded it with elaborate birdhouses he made of scrap wood and found objects, modeling them after the famous architecture of Italy. Some were readily identifiable as historic structures like the cathedrals of Milan or Pisa, while others included architectural components from several different structures.