Located in downtown Milan, the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum expresses the taste and lifestyle of a wealthy, cultured, aristocratic Milanese family at the end of the 19th century, and is one of Europe's most important historic house museums. Here, the precious permanent collections of 15th and 16th-century Italian art and decorative arts, assembled by the Bagatti Valsecchi brothers during the second half of the 19th century, are found in their original positions. Because of this, the museum not only offers Italian Renaissance art, but also presents an authentic "magic window" onto Milan's aristocratic past, fascinating to many kinds of visitors.
Once the palatial symbol of Visconti nobility, the Sforzesco Castle was reconstructed by Francesco Sforza, the duke of Milan in the 15th Century. He rebuilt parts of the original fortification, including the Torre del Filarete that towered 70 meters (230 feet) above other small towers. Deemed to be one of the largest bastions in Europe, this monumental citadel underwent several expansions and changes in the years that followed. When under Spanish rule, it was largely used as a barrack, before parts of it were demolished by Napoleon's troops. In the 19th Century, it was salvaged by architect Luca Beltrami. He rebuilt several parts of the castle, including the towers, the moat and even restored the historic Torre del Filarete to its former glory. The castle's archways give way to the regal courtyards of Rocchetta and Ducal, which house several archaeological and art museums.
The Pinacoteca di Brera is located in a 1615 building constructed by Francesco Maria Richini. The gallery was founded in 1776, and it holds important works by Italian and foreign masters from 1400 to 1900. Of special note are the paintings by Vincenzo Foppa, Lorenzo Lotto, Paolo Veronese, Tintoretto, Giovanni Bellini, Andrea Mantegna, Tiziano, Correggio, Bramante, Gentile da Fabriano, Piero della Francesca, Caravaggio, Rubens, Hayez. This is the permanent home of Sposalizio della Vergine by Raffaello, the Cristo morto by Andrea Mantegna, Madonna and Saints by Piero della Francesca and the Madonna in trono e Santi by Ercole Dè Roberti. There are a bookshop and a cafeteria, and guided tours are available. It is located within the city's notable palace Palazzo di Brera which was constructed by architect, Francesco Maria Ricchino, in a Milanese Baroque style.
Beautiful sculptures adorn the graves of those interred at the Monumental Cemetery. Originally laid out in the 19th Century, the cemetery encompasses a staggering collection of sculptural and architectural gems, each gracing the burial site of some of the country's most prominent families and individuals. The Famedio, or Temple of Fame, is one of its most distinctive features. Originally designed to serve as a church, the neo-Medieval structure now has the sarcophagus of the novelist, Alessandro Manzoni. The tomb of the Campari family is adorned by a large, bronze version of the Last Supper, while that of Arturo Toscanini is a masterpiece fashioned by the sculptor, Leonardo Bistolfi. Marvelous funerary art and ornamentation abound at the Monumental Cemetery, a favorite among art lovers.
Located right behind the Brera Art Gallery, in the Brera Place complex, Orto Botanico di Brera dates back to the late 18th Century. An Italian monk and botanist, Fulgezio Vitman, worked for the establishment of this botanical garden in 1774. It was created with the aim of providing an educational platform for students of botany and pharmacy. Giuseppe Piermarini, of the Scala Theatre fame, assisted Vitman in designing the garden. Orto Botanico di Brera, today, is home to a vast collection of medicinal plants, ornamental plants and vegetables. A restored greenhouse, located at the northern end, is used as a teaching center by the Academy of Fine Arts.
One of the finest museums in the continent for its exquisite collection of 19th-century fine art, Museo Poldi Pezzoli has been delighting art connoisseurs since the late 19th Century. Get amazed by the masterpieces of artists like Giovanni Bellini, Guardi and Pollaiolo. Impeccable collections in the form of tapestries, porcelain, jewelry and glassware are also worth a look.
For art aficionados, Museo Del Novecento is a welcoming change as it highlights artistic expressions of the 20th Century till date. You will find masterpieces by Italian masters, renowned world artists and established local artists in its themed rooms. Set inside the Palazzo dell’Arengario with its grand staircase being the focal point to all the levels, you will find each area celebrating Italian art which includes varying forms such as surrealism, abstract and spatialism as well as sculptures. Besides its permanent collection of 400 works, it also hosts temporary exhibits, concerts and educational events.
Housed within the historic Biblioteca Ambrosiana, the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana was formed in 1618 following Cardinal Federico Borromeo's generous donation of artworks. The collection included a total of 172 paintings that can be traced back to the 17th, 18th and early twentieth centuries, with significant artworks such as The Musician by Leonardo, The Basket of Fruit by Caravaggio and the Vases of Flowers by Jan Brueghel. There are also several paintings that can be sourced to Venetian, Flemish and Lombardian schools of art, besides a few bronze and marble sculptures as well.
Housed in the Palace of Ambrosiana, Biblioteca Ambrosiana is considered one of the most important institutions in the city. Founded by Federico Borromeo as a center for counter-reform culture, it gradually accumulated numerous collections of art, books and manuscripts. From the first nucleus, facing Piazza S. Sepolcro, the institution expanded to occupy the entire block. The vast collection of the library includes the Codice Atlantico by Leonardo da Vinci.
The seat of government in the city was originally the Royal Palace of Milan, where the municipal institutions were located. It became a noble residence during the rule of the Torriane and Visconti families, who gave it its shape that can in part still be seen, based on a system of two courtyards. Partially demolished to make way for the Cathedral nave, the building was refurbished after 1452 by Francesco Sforza. Used as the seat of power by the Spanish rulers, it underwent substantial modifications until the late 18th Century, in particular, the extensive work by Giuseppe Piermarini. Alongside the volumes of the Palazzo there is the Arengario, seat of the Palazzo del Turismo, with its two pavilions designed in 1939 (and completed in 1956) by the architects Enrico Agostino Griffini, Pier Giulio Magistretti, Giovanni Muzio and Piero Portaluppi. A feature of interest - on the first floor of the Palazzo, there is the famous 'Sala delle Cariatidi', in the location of the ancient theater destroyed by fire in 1776. This hall is now undergoing restoration.
The Museo Teatrale alla Scala was founded in 1913, but underwent a radical restoration and was opened again in 2004. The museum is a music-lover's Mecca: it gathers portraits and statues of the most well-known composers, opera singers and actors. It contains rare, ancient musical instruments such as a XVII spinet with the warning words "Inexpert hand, touch me not!" painted on it. Historical memories and set designs of the theater are on display on the second floor. In the first room, it is worth pointing out the still-life of musical instruments painted by Baschenis. The entrance of this museum is in the same building of the theater just on the side of the main doors.
The Gallerie di Piazza Scala is a beautiful art gallery and museum housing a wide variety of contemporary artworks from the 19th and 20th Century. Paintings and sculptures by renowned artists like Umberto Boccioni, Antonio Canova, Francesco Hayez, Giuseppe Canella and Emilio Isgrò can be seen here. Entry to the museum is free and audio guides are provided as well, which makes it a must visit location for any art enthusiast. The building of the museum itself is a remarkable example of Italian architecture and worth visiting in itself. A small coffee shop and book shop are located on the premises of the museum as well.