Castello Sforzesco is a surprising monument sheltering several specialized museums and traces of the city’s past. An oasis of art and culture. It was originally a Visconti fortress and later home to the mighty Sforzas, the rulers of Milan, who transformed it into a magnificent ducal palace thought to have been decorated by several of the greatest artists of the times including Donato Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci.
Transformed into a military complex during four centuries of foreign occupation and subsequently used as the barracks of the Italian army, at the end of the 19th century the Castle was restored by architect Luca Beltrami who turned it into the headquarters of Milan’s Civic Museums.
Today the Castle sits in all of its glory in the eponymous square with its 70m-tall “Torre del Filarete” and a number of majestic circular keep-towers.
Brera is synonymous with the artistic heart of the city. In fact, as you stroll along the streets of this ancient district, you cannot help but be enchanted by its almost surreal atmosphere boasting small artisan’s workshops or quaint stores selling canvases and paints. Additionally, Brera is home to the impressive Accademia di Belle Arti, where visitors can admire Milan’s famous painting collection at the Pinacoteca (the Brera Picture Gallery), the historic Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense (Braidense National Library) , the Museo Astronomico (The Astronomical Museum), the oldest scientific research institute in the city and the Giardino Botanico (Botanical Gardens), an evocative green space located.
La Scala, or Teatro alla Scala in Italian, is one of the most famous opera houses in the world. Its sober and elegant exterior never fails to surprise those that visit it for the first time.
The Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este commissioned the construction of a new Ducal Theatre when a fire burnt down the previous theatre in 1776. The opera house was built on the site where the former site of the Church Santa Maria alla Scala, hence the name of the Teatro alla Scala.
Like other theatres of the same period, La Scala also housed a casino during its early years. In 1943, during World War II, the theatre was badly damaged by bombing. It was reconstructed three years later. In 2002, the Opera House was closed for two years while it was renovated and opened in November 2004 with an opening performance of Europa riconosciuta by Antonio Salieri, which is the same opera that was performed when the theatre was inaugurated in 1778. Many famous operas have had their first production in La Scala, such as Othello, Nabucco by Verdi or Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini.
During its early years, the composer Giuseppe Verdi did not want his work to be represented in the Teatro alla Scala because he was convinced that the orchestra modified his compositions. Nevertheless, he then established a very close relationship with the Opera House.
The Theatre Museum contains a large collection of paintings, busts, costumes and several other objects related to the world of opera and theatre. The visit includes discovering the theatre’s grand foyer, an elegant and sparsely decorated hall. Then you will be taken to the small box seats covered in red satin, where the high society enjoyed and still enjoys the various operas and ballets performed in La Scala. The enormous auditorium is made of wood and covered in red velvet, adorned with golden coloured stuccos. The stage is lit by a huge Bohemian crystal chandelier with 383 bulbs.
It seems that in the first half of the 15th century the Visconti stayed "in the countryside", a step away from the current Marche metro stop in Milan, in Villa Mirabello. At the time, however, the building we are talking about was called Cascina Mirabello, and it can be found in the documents of 1468 that recognized it as the property of this Pigello Portinari. The Florentine nobleman dear to Prince Sforza, general manager of the annuities of the Milanese duchy and representative of the Florentine House of the Medici in Milan, was also the promoter of the construction of the Portinari Chapel in Sant'Eustorgio.
Towards the end of the 15th century, the villa changed hands, becoming the property of the noble Landriani. Antonio Landriani, awarded by Francesco Sforza as mayor of Milan in 1456, then appointed prefect of the ducal treasury by Galeazzo Maria Sforza, later president of the Mint of Milan by the appointment of Gian Galeazzo Sforza, then became a trusted man and adviser politician of Ludovico il Moro. Ludovico himself was a guest of the Landriani in Villa Mirabello on February 4, 1500. A few years later the villa became one of the houses of the order of the Humiliati, of which Gerolamo Landriani was general. The Landriani family remained the owner of Villa Mirabello for some tens of years, enough to leave traces still visible today in the form of coats of arms that stand out on the fireplace of the main hall and on the ceilings, together with the motto "always el duty ”frescoed on the walls of the villa next to pomegranate figures and blue crosses. It seems that the villa then passed from Landriani to Marino, a rich family of Genoese origin whose member Tommaso entrusted Galeazzo Alessi with nothing less than the construction of Palazzo Marino in Piazza Della Scala.
The history of the villa, in the following years, is rather confused, but it is known that it later became the property of the Serbelloni family and that, starting from the mid-1500s, it faced a sad decline: the building was reduced exclusively to uses agricultural and over the next three centuries it became increasingly dilapidated, until Luca Beltrami, in 1891, considered it by re-evaluating it as an illustrious example of Lombard architectural art.
The construction of the Duomo di Milano initiated in 1386 on the site of the ancient basilicas of Santa Tecla and Santa Maria Maggiore, which were then demolished at a later date. Dedicated to Maria Nascente, the cathedral was commissioned by Gian Galeazzo Visconti and had a dual purpose: the plan was to replace the sites of worship in the heart of Milan with an imposing edifice and it was also intended to celebrate the Visconti Signoria and its ambitious expansion policy.
It is the largest and most complex Gothic building in Italy, made of pink-veined white marble from the Candoglia quarries, in the Val d'Ossola. It is 157 metres in length and covers an area of 11,700 m2. The highest spire measures 108.5 and, in October 1774, the golden 4,16 metre-high statue of the Madonna by the sculptor Giuseppe Perego was placed on its pinnacle.
The construction works were prolonged over five centuries and, during this extensive period, local and European architects, sculptors, artists and workers all proceeded in turn to work in the Fabbrica del Duomo. The result of all their labour is a unique style of architecture, a fusion of European Gothic style and Lombard tradition.
The Galleria, a place of transit for busy managers or a stop for enchanted and curious tourists, expresses the various faces of the city through its many facets.
As soon as it was finished, the Galleria became immediately famous for its large size, extraordinary for the time and sign of a new era.
Taking that classic wander through the Galleria, the very heart of the city, as visitors have done for many years, still creates that wonderful sensation. Entering the Galleria, the corridor between Duomo and La Scala Theatre, its magnificent arch welcomes you and hints at the Milanese spectacle that lies within. The original idea of the designers was to create a porticoed street that would function as a showcase and offer somewhere to take a pleasant stroll, enjoy an aperitif or have dinner after the opera.
Today it can still be considered the “parlour” of the city, a place where you relax and enjoy a coffee at the bar Camparino, let yourself be enchanted by the cute hats of Borsalino and the collections of Prada and Louis Vuitton, or stop for an aperitif at Savini.
The new museum, created inside the ancient Ospedale Spagnolo (Spanish Hospital) in the Castello Sforzesco, is a fascinating space that has never opened to the public before and is exclusively dedicated to Michelangelo’s last masterpiece.
Visiting this enchanting abbey, established one thousand years ago, you will experience the very same atmosphere of knights, crusades and religious mysteries. Surrounded by the lush forests of the mount Canto, this church kept its charming and austere Romanesque architecture, decorated by the fragments of ancient frescoes, which used to cover its walls
Set deep in the countryside north of Varese by the Castelseprio Archaeological Park, the site of Torba Abbey is home to more than a millennium of history. It started out as a military outpost towards the end of the Roman Empire and later fell into the hands of the Goths and then the Longobards (with defensive walls and towers dating back to the fifth and sixth centuries). Later Torba became a peaceful place of prayer and work for Benedictine nuns which led to the church and abbey being built in the thirteenth century.
Como, the Duomo (Cathedral) seen from the eastern side of the piazza, where in only a single block, the Duomo, the Broletto and the city tower are located. Como's Duomo is the last of the Gothic cathedrals built in Lombardy: it was begun in 1396, ten years after the foundation of Milan 's Duomo.
This villa is a great example of neoclassical architecture. Its construction started at the end of 18th century and was finished in 1812 by marquesses Odescalchi. It belonged to family Raimondi and Visconti di Modrone.
Culture and nature promenade across beauty, innovation and Como's treasures. A path through Villa Olmo, Villa del Grumello and Villa Sucota where art initiatives grow. A place to meet and "breathe" culture for citizens and tourists.
The first exhibition of the current Archaeology Museum was located in the Loggia under the Palazzo della Ragione, in Piazza Vecchia, where it was simply a “collection of old stuff” and included several epigraphs.
The Teatro Donizetti covers a total area of 3200 square meters. The hall’s dimensions respect the original 1786 design: it measures 360 square meters and it’s able to seat 532 people. There are 120 boxes, divided into three tiers, totalling 1154 seats.
A gem of industrial hydroengineering, Panperduto represents an area of great interest to make visitors aware of cultural, historical, agricultural and environmental heritage.
Located on the banks of the Ticino river, at Somma Lombardo along the European E1 trail and a few kilometres away from the Lago Maggiore and Milan, Panperduto is a place rich of history and culture. The old residence of the dam workers has been authentically restructured and today welcomes tourists following the cycleways, footpaths and points of interest along the watercourses. There is accommodation available with the opportunity to take guided tours of the whole complex, from the river confluence to the museum of the Italo-Swiss watercourses including a garden of interactive water games, to the migratory passage for fish and the beautiful trails immersed in the Ticino nature reserve.
One of the public buildings in Varese that is well worth a visit is Palazzo Estense, which was the summer and autumn residence and court of Francesco III d'Este, the Duke of Modena and Lord of Varese. It was built to the designs of the architect Bianchi in the second half of the eighteenth century. The “Salone Estense” (Estense Hall) with its large fireplace made from multicoloured marble is quite stunning. Palazzo Estense is now the Town Hall.
Behind the palace are the Estensi Gardens, one of the most charming public parks in Italy, which were built in the same style as the gardens of the Schönbrunn Palace, in Vienna, and finished in 1787.
Isolino Virginia is one of the oldest pile-dwelling settlements in the Alps and was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2011 as part of a serial property known as the “Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps”. The tiny islet is home to a LIPU (the Italian Society for the Protection of Birds) sanctuary that acts as a stopover for many species of migrating birds, and attracts many visitors as there is so much to see and do. As the area around Lake Varese has a long tradition of marvellous cuisine it also has many traditional restaurants and eateries serving local produce, and Isolino Virginia is no exception – a meal at the islet’s restaurant is a memorable experience. Tourists come to admire Lake Varese’s wonderful sights and culture and small boats ferry them to and from the islet from different points of the lake depending on the time of day.
Dedicated to the ones interested in the history of Santa Maria del Monte, it includes and shows romanesque sculptures, precious miniatures, a collection of important paintings of Giuseppe Baroffio Dall’Aglio and a section of sacred art from the 20th century.
You'll find 20th-century bright rooms but also hidden old rooms situated under the Sanctuary, with remains of fifteenth-century frescos. The museum includes also a beautiful terrace with one of the most beautiful views in Lombardia.
The Madonna con il Bambino by Domenico and Lanfranco from Ligurno is the symbol painting of the museum.
The San Gemolo Abbey in Ganna is an architectural complex formed by the church (consecrated in 1160), the bell tower, the cloister and the monks' homes. The abbey is located in the municipality of Valganna and is a place of worship dedicated to the memory of San Gemolo. According to the legend, the Saint walked to the abbey to be buried, bringing his own head in the hand.
The cloister hosts the Museum of the Abbey with heterogeneous material, from prehistoric finds to nineteenth-century laces and embroideries.
The Museum Villa Pia in Porza, created by the "Fondazione d'Arte Erich Lindenberg" costituted in 2008 by Mareen Koch, has as mission the conservation and promotion of the German painter Lindenberg (Gronau 1938 - Berlin 2006).
Clinging to a sheer rock overhanging one of the deepest parts of Lake Maggiore, the hermitage is a monastery made up of three buildings dating back to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It offers a wonderful blend of art and history set against one of the most charming natural canvases on Lake Maggiore, in which the rock appears to almost form a balcony leaning out towards the Borromean Islands. The hermitage can be easily accessed via a short walk from the lake or a picturesque staircase with 268 steps from a large square above, and a lift has recently been installed.
The church of Sant’Evasio was founded in the first half of the 8th century, at the time of the Lombard King Liutprand, who wished to honour the saint by erecting a great basilica over the little church of San Lorenzo, built by Evasius himself.
The property with its ancient park because of its architectural importance and its artistic heritage, it is under the Royal Law Decree of June 1939 and it belongs today to the Società Semplice Castello d’Uviglie.
The Castello Visconteo served as the seat of the Visconti Dukes of Milan from 1513 to 1798. It is now an archaeological museum, housing Locarnese artefacts from the late Bronze Age to the High Middle Ages.
The vast but unfinished complex, named after the game pelota that was played in one of the courtyards, was built in the second half of the 16th century at the order of Ranuccio I around the Visconti stronghold and alongside the existing church of San Pietro martire.
The chamber of Saint Paul used to be part of the abbess' apartment in the Benedectine Convent of Saint Paul, decorated from 1514 at the order of Abbess Giovanna da Piacenza, whose priorate was characterized by a lively cultural life.
On display in Palazzo Rosso, a noble residence decorated with valuable furnishings and frescoes by Liguria's greatest painters of the 17th Century, is a rich gallery of paintings, collected over more than two centuries by the noble Brignole-Sale family.
The Parks of Nervi are an important historical/nature complex formed from the combination of several gardens that once belonged to private villas: Villa Gropallo, Villa Saluzzo Serra, and Villa Grimaldi Fassio. Today, these villas belong to the City of Genoa and have been transformed into museums.