Milan Italy is sometimes unjustly coined as a “stop over” city with the majority of travelers stopping in from Venice or Rome to see the Last Supper and moving on. Most fail to realize just how deep you can dive into Italian Renaissance here. The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is one of these lesser known gems that is often skipped over. So, don’t follow the crowd and don’t miss out! The Pinacotteca is the oldest museum in Milan. It dates back to 1618 when Cardinal Federico Brorromeo donated his personal collection to the Biblioteca. This museum has a pretty incredible permanent collection. It also allows you to get up close to many Botticelli, Titian, Caravaggio and Raphael works. Some of the most notable masterpieces housed in the collection are The Musician by da Vinci, Basket of Fruit by Caravaggio and Adoration of the Magi by Titian.
Perhaps the most important piece in the permanent collection is Raphael’s Cartoon. This massive drawing was hand sketched by Raphael and used as a rough outline for his famous School of Athens fresco at the Vatican. The work was undergoing a large restoration project when we visited. However, the sketch is still visible as it is kept behind a large glass panel during this lengthy project.
Books, Art and Leonardo
The “Leonardo Hall” with excerpts from Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex, journal entries, and sketches is housed in the building’s 17th century library. The library evokes such a clam quiet environment. Which makes it the loveliest backdrop to display these rare pieces.
My husband and I spent about two hours here. We took our time wandering the mosaic filled stairways and floor to ceiling stained glass windows. The location is rarely crowded and admission can easily be purchased the day of your visit. I did find the museum layout a bit odd, so pick up a free map at the entrance.
get outta town.
One newsletter a month on the full moon.
If you happen to be an Atlas Obscura fan, walk three blocks from the Pinacoteca to Piazza Affari. This square marks the heart of Milan’s financial district. The surroundings buildings were built in the 1930’s under Mussolini’s regime. To this day they still house the Italian stock exchange. While you are here you can’t help but to notice the Towering Middle Finger sculpture! It’s absolutely worth a photo and a sly text to make your friends back home smile!
“To travel is to live.” -Hans Christian Anderson