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Things to do in Milan

  • Santa Maria delle Grazie Santa Maria delle Grazie Milan, Italy
    The Santa Maria delle Grazie or Holy Mary of Grace is one of the famous churches and Dominican convent in Milan, Italy, and is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage sites. One very important reason besides the majesty of this beautiful church is the mural of the Last Supper that was painted by Leonardo da Vinci; in the refectory of the church. In the 15th century, the Duke of Milan, Francesco I Sforza ordered a Dominican convent be constructed and a church in the exact spot that a small chapel had been dedicated to St. Mary of the Graces. The architect heading the project was Guiniforte Solari, and the convent was finished in 1469 with the church taking longer. The next duke, Ludovico Sforza, wanted the church to become the family burial place, and that meant that the cloister and apse needed to be rebuilt, which was done in 1490. Ludovico's wife, Beatrice, was buried there in 1497. The apse was believed to have been completed by Donato Bramante, although he did live in Milan at the time, no one is quite sure; but he did quote the "Acts" of the church in 1494, and he continued in the gothic style from the original building, although mixing in Romanesque features. The Holy Crown chapel acquired a magnificent painting by Titian, called "The Crowning with Thorns", in 1543, but it was stolen by French soldiers in 1797 after their conquest of Milan. In WWII, during the night raid of August 15, 1943, which British and American bombers dropped tons of bombs, the church and convent were hit, with the majority of the refectory being destroyed, although some of the walls were saved, especially the Last Supper mural that had been sandbagged for protection. The church is a devotion to the Virgin Mary, and because of this designation, it is believed that churches with these dedications owe their founding to the thankfulness for graces that were bestowed on them from the Virgin Mary; and are very numerous in India, Australia, United States, France, Italy and the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. She is the patron saint of the church and there are many churches named after her all over the world, as well as many paintings, statues and icons.

  • Ambrosiana Library & Picture Gallery
    The Bibliotheca Ambrosiana is the historical library in Milan, Italy, that also contains the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, or also known as the Ambrosian art gallery. Named after Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan, the library was started by Cardinal Federico Borromeo during the 16th century, who had agents scour western Europe, Syria and Greece for manuscripts and books; with numerous major acquisitions of entire libraries, one having the manuscripts of the Benedictine monastery of Bobbio from 1606, and the library of Paduan Vincenzo Pinelli, whose huge collection of 800 manuscripts filled 70 cases, when they arrived in Milan and also had the famous illuminated Iliad, the Ilia Picta; which is a 5th century illuminated manuscript of the Iliad of Homer, believed to have made between 493 and 508, making it one of the earliest surviving illustrated manuscripts in the world and made on vellum. During the cardinal's sojourns to Rome, he dreamed of making the library in Milan one that would be open to scholars, and become part of the Catholic scholarship in the service of the counter-reformation that would counteract the treatises that were coming from the Protestant presses. Wishing his magnificent collection of 15,000 manuscripts and 30,000 books, the cardinal had the construction begin in 1603 under the design and direction of Lelio Buzzi and Francesco Maria Richini, with the first reading room opening in 1609. It became known as the Sala Fredericianan, and was the second library that appeared in Europe. One of its innovations was the encasement of books along the walls, instead of being chained to reading tables, which had become a medieval practice that is still carried on today in the Laurentian Library of Florence. The library had its own printing press, as well as a school for teaching the classical languages. With constant acquisitions coming in, more space was soon needed, although Borromeo wanted an academy, which did open in 1625, and a collection of pictures, which were housed in a new building constructed during 1611 to 1618; and this held the marvelous collection of paintings and drawings; that became the central collection of the Pinacoteca. The cardinal left his collection of drawings and paintings to the library, and a short time after his passing, the library would get a magnificent collection of 12 manuscripts of Leonardo, that included the Codex Atlanticus, which is a 12 volume, bound set of writings and drawings by Leonardo, the biggest such set in the world, with the name depicting the breadth of the ideas; that ranged from flight to weapons, to musical instruments and from math to botany set in 1,119 pages that date from 1478 to 1519. This is truly a spectacular artifact that the library is very proud to have and exhibit. Today, the library contains 12,000 drawings by European artists, from the 14th to the 19th centuries; and many of the most precious, like the Leonardo codex, were stolen by the French during the Napoleonic occupation and only some were returned to the library after 1815.

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Local Restaurants in Milan
  • Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia
    Hors D'oeuvre; raw tartare of Piedmonese veal marinated in tomato and ginger juices with Sicilian almond; light soup of cod fish tripes, early spinach and eyed beans from Tuscany, flavored with wild fennel seeds; the scampi, raw and cooked, raw on a Sicilian pistachio puree, cooked and served with a fava beans cream flavored with sweet mint; soft simmered egg and asparagus with candied tomato, breadcrumbs crust and long aged balsamic vinegar; pate made with pigeon and duck livers flavored with white truffle paste by Grazioli, with hot brioche bread. Pasta, Risotti, Soups; tagliolini made of flour of sieved wheat with sauce of young mallard duck, fresh wild mushrooms and caciocavallo podolico cheese; fettuccelle by Di Nola with sauce of capers from Pantelleria, sundried tomatoes, Sicilian almonds and dried tuna roe from Favignana; rice with Tuscan zucchini and their flowers, saffron from Sardinia and burrata; tortelli of grey wheat flour from Puglia filled with Mantis shrimp, scampi, eggplant and borage leaves, with small squid and aged ricotta sauce; soup of spring with seasonal veggies, legumes, whole Tuscan wheat and aromatic herbs. Main courses; cuttle fish filled with cod fish, veggies, shrimp and aromatic herbs cooked on a steatite stone, with Tuscan artichoke; sea bream stewed in a terracotta saucepan with asparagus, green olives, flavored with thyme, lemon grass and tomato; fantasy of fish and shell fish with aromatic herbs served with a cream of cicerchie from Puglia with bay leaves; Tuscan suckling pig flavored with hedera honey with small pie of chicory and wild mushrooms; rump of veal from Piedmont filled with plums and pine nuts, in a light panure of herbs and citrus; veal sweetbread in crisp semolina with sauce of visciole, served with fried artichokes and potatoes; young mallard duck cooked in a terracotta saucepan in sauce of wild aromatic herbs, with eggplant pie; Piedmontese veal tenderloin cooked rare in thin breadcrumbs crust with seasonal veggies.

  • Santini
    Appetizers; 24 month parma ham with fruit of the season; lobster salad with fennel and orange; sautéed catch of the day with veggie caponata; grilled red prawns and squid on a bed of mixed greens. First courses; mozzarella cheese dumplings with fresh tomatoes and basil; spaghetti alla chitarra with lobster ragout; egg tagliolini with white beans and squid; beef filled ravioli with their own roast sauce; cauliflower cream with string beans and balsamic vinegar from Modena. Main Courses; selection of steamed shellfish and mollusks; roasted spicy baby chicken with sautéed veggies; veal filet au gratin with pecorino cheese and seasonal veggies; thinly sliced buffalo with pureed potatoes and broccoli. Traditional Milanese Cuisine; Piedmontese veal battuta; baccala all veneta stockfish; risotto Milanese style; veal with bone marrow and saffron risotto; tripe Milanese style. Chef's suggestions; marinated pigeon salad with extra virgin olive oil and chili pepper flavored bread; risotto with pear, chicory and smoked foie gras; sea bass with panissa, veal sweetbreads and onion, lemon and bay leaf sauce.

Sea Bream Steamed Il Luogo di Aimo d Nadia Milan, Italy

 

Tuscan Suckling Pig Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia Milan, Italy

 

Rump of Veal Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia Milan, Italy

 Roasted Spicy Baby Chicken Santini Milan, Italy


Risotto Milanese Milan, Italy

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  • Castello Sforzesco Castello Sforzesco Milan, Italy
    The Castello Sforzesco or Sforza Castle is located in Milan, Italy that once was the seat and residence of the ruling family of the city and now contains numerous of the city's museums and art collections. The construction on this immense castle started in the 14th century, and by 1450, Francesco Sforza started to reconstruct the castle, with more changes in the generations that followed. Many of the rooms had elegant internal decorations, the most well known being the Sala Delle Asse with some ceiling paintings by Leonardo da Vinci. When the French defeated Massimiliano Sforza in the 1515 Battle of Marignano, he and his Swiss mercenaries, as well as the Cardinal-bishop of Sion retreated into the castle, but the King of France, Francis I would follow them into the city and place mines under the castle's foundations, so the men inside surrendered. When the nation was unified in the 19th century, the reconstruction of the castle began after it was transferred from the military to the city; with the work being directed by Luca Beltrami. The center Filarete tower that stands at the structure's main entrance was then reconstructed during the period between 1900 and 1905, becoming a monument to King Umberto I. During the mad bombing of 1943, in WWII, the castle was really damaged, but the reconstruction after the war, was done by the BBPR architectural partnership. The most famous of the civic museums housed in the great castle is the Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco, with a magnificent art collection that contains Michelangelo's last sculpture, the Rondanini Pieta, Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Trivulzianus manuscript and Andrea Mantegna's Trivulzio Madonna. Besides this museum, the castle is home to the Furniture museum, the Museum of Musical Instruments, the Museum of Ancient Art, the Egyptian and prehistoric sections of the Archaeological Museum, the Achille Bertarelli Print collection and the Applied Arts collection.

  • Colonne di San LorenzoColonne di San Lorenzo Milan, Italy
    The Colonne di San Lorenzo is the most famous Roman ruins in the city of Milan, Italy, and stands in the front of the Basilica of San Lorenzo; a square with a long row of columns on either side, that were taken from a public bath house or temple that dated around the 2nd century. They were moved in the 4th century to their present site, and one of the medieval gates of the city still stands in its place, containing Roman marbles. In 1935, the spaces between the columns had old houses going into the church, which was completely surrounded by the old houses; and although they wanted to save as much as possible, when the conservations works began, the houses had to be demolished, thus causing the monument to sit by itself, like a sore thumb, although historical and ancient in its grandeur. After the horrible bombing of the second World War, the church complex would become isolated on its rear side, but a fenced urban park was built that allows views of the majestic columns and another church sitting close to them.  There are sixteen columns altogether, made of marble and capped by Corinthian capitals supporting a entablature, that was a Roman building dated in the third century, believed to have housed the great baths built by Emperor Maximian. They have become an icon of monumental importance to the citizens of the city of Milan, since they have survived the attacks of the Goths, Barbarossa, and the terrible bombings of WWII.

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  • Santa Maria Presso di San Satiro Santa Maria Presso di San Satiro Milan, Italy
    The Santa Maria presso San Satiro is one of the beautiful churches located in Milan, Italy, on the site of what was once a primitive worship place that had been constructed by the archbishop Anspertus in the year, 879, and was dedicated to the Saint Satyrus, the confessor and brother of Saints Ambrose and Marcellina. This church was constructed between 1472 and 1482, by Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza, by the architect Bramante, and the majority by Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, who was the designer of the facade. The church has a nave and two aisles, with a barrel vault; with the nave encompassed by an emisperical dome at the crossing at the transept. The choir area had to be shortened because of the main thoroughfare, but was replaced by Bramante with a painted perspective, creating one of the first trompe l'oeil in the history of the art. The interior was painted in gold and white, with wall frescoes created by Borgognone, which have all been moved to the Pinacoteca di Brera. The ancient sacellum was covered with cotto decorations and enhanced with a terracotta that portrayed the Dead Christ by Agostino de Fondulis, as are numerous terracotta busts in the sacristy, which were the inspiration for the Portinari Chapel of Sant'Eustorgio or the Colleoni Chapel. The bell tower is of Romanesque edifice that was here before the 1480 reconstruction, as is the baptistry next to the church.  Today, the church is secondary because of all the more famous churches that were constructed after it, but one thing that puts this church above many others, and made it a certain pilgrimage stopover for all Christians during the 13th and 14th centuries. Inside the beautiful church is an image of the Madonna that was stabbed and began to shed real blood; thus assuring it a place in history. The church is quite an architectural gem, which was improved by Bramante during the latter 15th century, showcasing his command of perspective and proportions. He created a beautiful relief behind the altar with trompe l'oeil arches and columns, creating something of a magical illusion, as well as creating a marvelous beloved 13th century fresco. 

  • Arco della PaceArco della Pace Milan, Italy
    Arco della Pace, or the Arch of Peace is a magnificent monument in Milan, Italy, that is found in the middle of the huge Piazza Sempione, that was begun in 1807, by Louis Cagnola, under coercion from the city and Napoleon. The work was two thirds complete, along with numerous statues, like the History and Poetry, when the kingdom fell and the work stopped; which had been created by the neo-classical styling of Louis Shopping. In 1826, the construction began a gain under the leadership of Hapsburg Emperor Francis I of Austria, dedicating it to the peace that had begun when many of the European powers came together in 1815. In 1833, Louis Cagnola passed away, and the task fell to Francis Londonio and Peverelli Francis, who finished it in 1838; with the opening ceremony led by the new emperor, Ferdinand I of Austria and King of Lombardy-Venetia. Four days following the victory of Magenta, in 1859, Napoleon III and Victor Emmanuel II came through the arch with the crowds cheering. The monument is made of Crevola marble, and is 75 feet tall, and over 70 feet wide. The top of the arch is filled with bronze statues, the outside two are called History and Poetry, while the middle statue is a coach and six horses, driven by Peace; and to which the monument is dedicated to. Napoleon had the fortifications of the town destroyed in 1801, and a huge space created for the Piazza Sempione, with instructions for a monumental structure to be built at the entrance to the town. The arch contains three monstrous columns of Corinthian style, with isolated custom boxes on each side, and made with granite from Baveno and marble from Crevola as mentioned above.

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  • Basilica di S Nazaro MaggioreBasilica di San Nazaro Maggiore Milan, Italy
    The basilica of San Nazaro in Brolo, or San Nazaro Major, is also known as the Basilica Apostolorum, and it is a historical basilica in Milan, Italy, found in a lovely square, and constructed by St. Ambrose of Milan in the 4th century. In 386 AD., Ambrose, then a bishop, was promoted and began to construct a number of new churches, with each one dedicated to a different saint; an old custom of naming churches after saints. The basilica was constructed for the prophets, but was later dedicated to St. Denis, one was constructed for the martyrs, which would later hold the body of Ambrose himself, after he was sainted, and would become the Basilica Ambrose, one was for the virgins, later named the Basilica of San Simpliciano, and one for the apostles, which would become St. Nazaro Brolo, this basilica. The remains of Nazaro was discovered in 397, and would cause the creation of a new apse, so that a shrine could be built for the burial, covered with marble that was donated by the granddaughter of Emperor Theodosius I, Serena; who then paid for the remainder of the church to be decorated. Nazaro was a Roman citizen, born of a Jewish mother and legionaire father, and a disciple of Peter, getting baptized by the future Pope Linus; began the evangelization of Gaul. Ambrose found the bodies of Nazaro and his young disciple, Celso, buried in a field just outside the town of Milan, but Nazaro's head was detached from his body, because he was beheaded in the year 76. The Pope Linus would be the second leader of the Christian church after Peter was murdered, beginning his leadership in the year 67.

  • Casa di Alessandro ManzoniCasa di Alessandro Manzoni Milan, Italy
    Alessandro Francesco Tommaso Manzoni was an Italian poet, writer and senator in the Italian parliament; and is considered one of the best Italian novelists of all time, specifically for his famous novel, "The Betrothed", which became the cornerstone of all Italian literature; born in Milan, Italy. His maternal grandfather, Cesare Beccaria Bonesana Marquis, was also a well known writer, and his mother, Giulia Beccaria was a woman of much culture and literary intelligence. His father was well into his fifties when Alessandro was born, which led to some speculation that his real father may have been Giovanni Verri; which was corroborated by a letter that was recently discovered in Milan, sent to young Alessandro from Giuseppe Gorani. Alessandro was born in Milan in 1785, and spent his first two years along the farming community Galbiate, which sat by the coast; a plate found at the farm has these facts engraved on it, and it is still shown there. He went to various religious schools, and then on to college at San Antonio, but was known to be somewhat lazy, until he began to show an interest in poetry, by writing two sonnets. His grandfather would instruct him on the concepts of literature by showing him the world around him and the relationship it had with the universe. During the early 1800s, he spent some time with Don Pedro, but more with the women and gambling; although he did become involved with the upper-class Milanese and the new Environment enlightened aristocracy. His first real poetic experience began after that, which was edited by Vincenzo Monti, who was the literary leader of the period.  Alessandro's house, where he lived with his family from 1814 to 1873, when he passed on, is now a magnificent museum, opening in 1937, after extensive restorations occurred in the 1960s.

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  • Museo Diocesano di MilanoMuseo Diocesano di Milano Milan, Italy
    The Diocesan Museum of Milan, Italy started in 2001, on the initiative of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milan, with the goals of preserving, publicizing and improving the artistic treasures of the diocese. This museum was originally wanted by Ildefonso Schuster, the cardinal and archbishop of Milan, who wrote a letter to the Vatican referring to the sacred art and a diocesan museum in 1931. Beginning in 2002, the museum started to bring in various works from other museums that would stay for a temporary period of two to three months; thus allowing the museum to showcase many famous and beautiful works of art, but would not be responsible for their safety or storage. This religious exhibit has become a favorite of the residents of the city and is still happening today. The museum has been showing the valuable artistic heritage of the diocese, highlighting the religious and historical importance, allowing the public to experience this marvelous art that begins to take on a new meaning for them. The huge complex of Sant'Eustorgio is one of the most prominent and compelling units that includes the church and Dominican convent and has continued to grow over the centuries so that now its significance is of great importance to the history and heritage of Milan's Christianity. On the famous square, St. Barnabas, in the first century named Milan as the first city to start a church. This basilica was believed to have been part of the cult of the Magi, and still contains some of the artifacts that came from the East, according to the legends of the Bishop Eustorgio. It is also part of the cult of St. Peter, the martyr, who would live in a Verona Dominican convent during the mid13th century. He was an active preacher and difficult inquisitor, murdered in the woods of Barlassina, nearby Milan, in 1252; by a heretic. The complex looks out over the road of Ticinese, at one time an important highway going to Pavia, the ancient capital of Lombard. Although the basilica was started in early Christian times, it was reconstructed in Romanesque style sometime between the 12th and 13th century, and this is the period that the Dominicans came to build their convent. It would include a hospital, and during the inquisitional period of 1228, it would be protected by Visconti until the mid to late 15th century. Then the Dominicans would construct the second biggest convent at the Santa Maria delle Grazie, and that began the demise of its dominance in the city.  The museum contains many magnificent and beautiful sculptures, paintings, prints, drawings, liturgical furnishings, books, statues and other works from the diocese.

  • Museo Poldi Pezzoli
    The Museo Poldi Pezzoli is one of the finest art museums in the city of Milan, Italy, beginning in the 19th century with the donation of a private collection of Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli and his mother, Rosa Trivulzio; belonging to the family of the condottiero Gian Giacomo Trivulzio. The collection has a broad spectrum of Northern Italy, Italy, Netherlandish and Flemish artists; sitting in the center of the city with magnificent works of art. Some of the Italian painters that are displayed include; Jacopo Bellini, Mariotto Albertinelli, Lorenzo Bartolini, Giuseppe Bertini, Fra Bartolomeo, Alessandro Mazzola Vivarini, Paolo Borroni, Francesco Capella, Botticelli, Canaletto, G. B. Castiglione, Luigi Crespi, Daddi, Giordano, Giacomo Guardi, Pietro Lorenzetti, Michelangelo, Andrea Mantegna, and dozens more. In the northern European painting collections there are painting by; Pierre Tetar van Elven, Breughel the younger, Goltzius, Sutterman, Teniers the younger, Mathijs Van Hellemont, Jan Van der Meer II, Cornelis de Wael, Jacob Ferdinand Voet, Jacob Toorevliet, Willem Van Mieris and Nicolas Alexander Mair Von Landshut. This collection is one of the most important house-museums in Europe and showcases the collection and tastes of one of the finest collectors in the 19th century. The house of Pezzoli has served as a perfect backdrop to the magnificent and beautiful collections, that include; glasses, clocks, arms and armor, tapestries, carpets, furniture, archaeology, renaissance Italian paintings, decorative arts, porcelain, metalworks and jewelry. It is a research museum, studying the history of art and its collection, as well as educational studies. The conservation department in the museum often publishes books on the restoration process that pertain to the various items in the collections.

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May 11, 2011