Hidden Beauty

Milan’s most incredible gems hide behind closed doors in the form of frescoed courtyards, silent cloisters and lush gardens

  • Hidden Beauty
  • Hidden Beauty
  • Hidden Beauty
  • Hidden Beauty
  • Hidden Beauty

Milan has a shy kind of beauty, hiding behind brass intercoms and solid wooden doors. It is a discreet charm, reserved just like its inhabitants who rarely reveal themselves at first glance. The most authentic face of the city is made of glimpses and details, of arches and tiled floors, of marble benches and shady courtyards you get to peek by chance while walking, of quiet cloisters hiding behind the walls of ancient monasteries.
Along the streets of the famous Quadrilatero della Moda, once an area of secluded convents, or in the ​​Porta Venezia and Corso Magenta districts, there is a veritable city in the city: frescoed vaults that tell the story of nineteenth-century families, sumptuous palaces whose walls speak of aristocrats ready to squander their patrimonies, and centenarian wisterias guarding the prayers of fifteenth-century monks.
The courtyard of Palazzo Archinto
Palazzo Archinto was built around 1833 by the Count of the same name: an ambitious project for which the nobleman was in debt, so much so that by his death in 1864 it became the property of the Italian State and later housed a boarding school for girls.
With a rectangular plant, the palace winds around three courtyards: the square-shaped courtyard of honour (with a statue of Napoleon at the center) on which the four main buildings overlook, and two rectangular service courtyards. Everything is surrounded by an English garden with a lawn, a stream and a pond, now dried up.
The courtyard of Palazzo Moriggia
Hidden from the eyes of curious passers-by, the courtyards of via Borgonuovo are mostly owned by private individuals and often inaccessible. Fortunately, one of them belongs to Palazzo Moriggia, now home to the Museo del Risorgimento, designed in 1775 by Giuseppe Piermarini and very close to the Brera complex. A classic taste for rationality and harmony is the architect’s unmistakable signature, especially in the great Court of Honour, which houses a Monument to the Five Days of Milan.
The courtyard of Palazzo Bagatti Valsecchi
For these two amazing courtyards we must thank brothers Giuseppe and Fausto Bagatti Valsecchi, who renovated their family home – now the Bagatti Valsecchi museum - in Renaissance style back in the late nineteenth century.
The first one, accessible from via Gesù 5, has a black and white mosaic floor and a relaxed, old time atmosphere to be savored sitting at one of the tables of Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone. In via Santo Spirito 10, behind a large gate, hides the second courtyard, more intimate and evocative. The walls are frescoed with old views of Milan and there is a very well preserved early bicycle, yet another passion of the brothers, who also founded the Veloce Club Milano, ancestor of the Touring Club.
The Cloisters of Sant'Eustorgio
Part of the first Milanese Dominican convent, these ancient cloisters are truly beautiful and quiet. The first one, attached to the left side of the basilica, was built at the beginning of the 13th century, whereas the second one was probably built by Filippo Maria Visconti’s will in 1413.
Destroyed and rebuilt several times, and even used as barracks, today these two oases of silence house a major museum. The first one has a portico with columns dating back to the seventeenth century, whereas the second boasts elegant granite columns.
The Cloisters of San Barnaba
The vaults of these fifteenth century cloisters are now a sought-after event location. The complex is nothing short of spectacular: the construction of S. Maria della Pace began in 1466 on land donated by the Sforza family to a Portuguese nobleman who had abandoned his lavish life to become a Franciscan. Today, the four cloisters bear evocative names (Statues, Pisces, Memory, Wisteria) and they often welcome the local nightlife.

Author : The Slowear Journal


Milan  | architecture  | history  | courtyards  | hidden beauty  |

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