Milan’s Museo Poldi Pezzoli

Everyone has visited Milan’s Duomo – everyone but me. I will not wait in Disneyland-esq long lines to see the inside of the what is one of the most incredibly grand cathedrals in the world. I will spend time marveling at the sculptures and freezes on the exterior and then race away from the tourist infested Piazza Duomo neighborhood and seek out tourist group ignored gems, like Museo Poldi Pezzoli.

Museo Poldi Pezzoli is tucked away on on Via Manzoni, 12. The museum was the home of a 19th Century Milanese nobleman, Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli. Tickets are 10 euro unless you are ageless anziani like Jack and I then tickets are 8.50. I couldn’t  remember ever seeing a senior citizen discount at New York museums and thank blog follower Mike for reminding me that there are! Also, he pointed out that many cities have free museums.

They were filming something in the historic center of Milan and we couldn’t walk past Teatro San Carlo. That meant we couldn’t follow the directions on my phone to find the museum. We tried my friend Marta’s phone. Errrggg. Road blocks everywhere in the historic center. We tried the map. Errrgg.

Getting lost has benefits! Chocolate shoes and purses!

Jack said follow me. We did. He found it. By now we were growling with hunger. Entering the museum doors, I asked the charming men working the desk if they had a restaurant. They didn’t but sent us up the street to the fabulous Ristorante Don Lisander.

It was elegant and the perfect way to transition from contemporary Milan to the glamour of the 19th century. We spent €166 for the for of us – New York prices. We started with wonderful appetizers of Pugliese Burrata cheese, Red Tuna tartar and ended with scrumptious Risotto Milanese, Oso Buco and crisp salads. Did I mention the local wine? That was incredible too. Sigh.

Off to the museum! (I wondered if the staff thought we would really come back.) We bought our discounted tickets, turned to enter and gasped. An incredible neo-baroque fountain is nestled at the beginning of a grand staircase. The staircase guides folks to the rooms were Gian Giacomo lived.

The apartment is full of works by Botticelli, Bellini, Mantegna, Pollaiolo and others. The art just drew us all in. I spent quite a bit of time wondering who modeled for Sandro Botticelli’s Madonna of the Book. Girlfriend, neighbor, courtesan? Twilight diffused light is kind of romantic. Hmmm. Midge, it isn’t too late to study a wee bit of art history.

The Murano Glass rooms, where you can also find portraits of our host, are chock full of Murano glass dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Unlike, the faux Murano trinkets made in China one finds in Venice today, these were the real deal and glorious.

Want to skip a century or two? Giovani Battista Tiepolo’s Death of Saint Jerome is worth some introspection.

In case you are running late and wonder what time it is. Like the Mad Hatter you can dash into the Clock Room and check out the clocks dating from the 16th to 19th centuries. I wonder if Gian Giacomo was always on time or late for that important date?

Did you ever wonder why people collect what they collect?

Join us in our search for places off the beaten track. Leave the backpack infested rat packs and follow folks like Jack, my pal Marta and I – visit small museums, gardens and other hidden treasures.

Ci vediamo!

Milano – Art Lovers Paradise

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.

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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