If you are an art junkie than a jaunt to Milan is in order. The proliferation of museums is incredible. I’ve always been amazed at how the arts are integrated into daily Italian life. School field trips aren’t to Great Adventure but to see and sense some of the greatest masterpieces of the world. Of course, a lot of that work happens to have originated here, in Italy.
Jack and I didn’t know where to start. So many choices! Deciding which museum to go to was like looking at a diner menu – too many choices – “just make me a hamburger”. The official Musei Milano guide lists 25 museums – that doesn’t count galleries and designer showcases. I bet there are more small house museums that don’t make the “Majors” list. Today, pal Sharon Tarantino sent me an article about yet another museum opening – Fondazione Prada will feature 20th century art from the collection of Miuccia Prada.
Our motto is “One cultural site a day!” Of course after gorging on culture we do visit a local eatery – that my friends fills the day. So in the week we are here we won’t put a dent in the museum list.
We started with the exhibitions at Castello Sforzesco. Castles are cool! I love to image how those noble folks lived – my family would of course been serving them. When I visit a castle tho, my imagination dictates that I am la principessa! Castello Sforzesco was originally built in the 14th century and then redone in the 15th century by the Duke of Milano, Francesco Sforza. (Hmm, we have a prominent Pontelandolfo family of Sforzas – wonder if they are related.) It was an easy metro ride from our apartment to the stop at the Castle walk way.
The first thing we saw was the giant temporary ticket pavilion for EXPO – the world’s fair now going on in Milan.
We followed the walk to the giant gates past the glorious fountain. At The ticket booth, I got out €10 – the fee was €5 each. The kind woman at the counter said “Quante anni hai – 62?” What! I may be 65 but I think I look only 58. Then I saw that cittadino anziano got a discount. “Gulp, yup that’s me an old lady and he is even older.” The tickets were only €3 each to visit a series of museums housed in the giant space. We were in art overload and loved it.
The complex includes:
The Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco, paintings by giants like with Canaletto, Tiepolo, Vincenzo Foppa, Titian and Tintoretto.
The Museum of Ancient Art includes Michelangelo’s last sculpture (the Rondanini Pietà).
The Museum of Musical Instruments.
The Egyptian Museum. (We skipped this – hey NY, NY has this stuff too.)
The Prehistoric collections of the Archaeological Museum of Milan. (Yeah, skipped that too.)
The Applied Arts Collection – this was interesting because contemporary furniture was included.
The Achille Bertarelli Print Collection. (We didn’t see signs for this.)
Here is a quick glimpse at some of the collections. (HIT THE LINK – it is super short.)
Later in the week, our next museum excursion was to Museo Del Novecento. This interesting facility, adjacent to the Duomo, has one of the largest national collections of Italian and international 20th century art – Futurism, Spatialism and lots of other isms. Picasso, Kandinsky and Matisse are hanging around too.
As we entered the building I immediately thought of New York’s Guggenheim Museum. The walk way to the galleries loops around and around – instead of looking at the art – like the Guggenheim you are looking out huge windows facing Piazza Duomo. One space had floor to ceiling windows – each section framing great architecture. Brava!
Once we entered the gallery trail we really had to pay attention to the signs pointing to the next space. The facility is huge and you go up escalators and some how enter an adjacent building. When we were done we giggled because we couldn’t find our way out of the place. Aiutami!!!
We vowed that our lunch spot of the day would be on the roof of Museo Novecento – Ristorante Giacomo Arengario. The bill was €110 but it was well worth it. The fare was beautifully presented, fresh and delicious. I would go back just to eat or later in the day have an aperitif. The view was spectacular too.
Salmon Crudo Appetizer
Perfectly Grilled Calamari – YUMMY!
Windows on the Piazza!
We were only in Milan a scant 7 days – not enough to really immerse ourselves in the total art scene. One of the museums we missed was the Palazzo Moriggia – Museo del Risorgimento. The museum that tells the story of Italy’s reunification as one country in the mid 1800’s. I really wanted to hear the Milan version because the Pontelandolfo version includes lots of Pontelandofese murdered in their sleep by Garibaldi’s forces. That’s right – some folks were happy with their king.
For a complete list of all of Milan’s fabulous museums www.milanmuseumguide.com/