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LEONARDO AT THE SFORZA CASTLE

The Sforza Castle in Milan appears enormous to those approaching it. Imposing and severe, yet friendly in its own way.
It is now some 650 years since the Visconti family founded it in 1368, and not yet 600 since its renaissance under the Sforza in 1450.
Over the centuries it has been many things: a safe home for the Dukes of Milan, a place of abandon after their fall and, for the many years to follow and up the Unification of the Country in mid 19th Century, a large barrack for the armies of the foreign rulers that succeeded one another.
Today it is a place of leisure thanks to the presence of a beautiful city park at its back, the Parco Sempione, and of culture, as it houses museum collections and libraries.
But what was it like in the age of Sforza?

The age of the Sforza

The arrival of the Sforza in Milan had marked a new course, their reconstruction of the Castle was in the sign of embellishment, they modernized it and slowly changed it from a typical defence structure into a Renaissance residence, also thanks to the choice of a Tuscan architect, Filarete , more updated than the locals.
Since 1467, the Sforzas left their former residence beside the Duomo, to move to the Castle and with their presence, its rooms were gradually set up and decorated, lined with wooden planks and draped with expensive embroidered fabrics.  The green areas were turned into enchanting gardens. Celebrations and ceremonies were frequent and luxurious.

Leonardo in Milan

Branch of mulberris, Leonardo da Vinci, detail
Branch of mulberries, Leonardo da Vinci, detail

The last 20 years of Sforza rule, under Ludovico il Moro, were those of the greatest splendour. Luxury was an instrument of political control and promotion, and the Castle became one of the most interesting places in Europe, frequented by intellectuals, artists and scientists summoned to Milan from all over the peninsula.
Even his wife, the young and charismatic Beatrice d’Este, contributed to the lively atmosphere of the court, as elegant and influential as a true trend-setter.And then came Leonardo, settled in Milan since 1482 at the service of the duke, with whom he had a complicated yet pivotal and fruitful relationship.

Leonardo at the Sforza Castle

Yet little remains of Leonardo’s presence and work at the Castle.
His creations were ephemeral, like the impressive settings for the official celebrations, or they remained on paper, like the new design of the central tower of the Castle or the grandiose equestrian monument to Francesco Sforza, both of which were never made. Others went lost, such as the decoration of the “salette nere” (3 small rooms at ground floor), of which only a few written notes remain.
Yet something survives: the Sala delle Asse.

Leonardo’s Sala delle Asse

Sala delle Asse. Leonardo da Vinci's Monochrome, detail
Sala delle Asse. Leonardo da Vinci’s Monochrome, detail

A large room located at the base of the northern tower of the castle, the Sala delle Asse was already in use under Ludovico’s predecessor Galeazzo Maria Sforza, but it was thanks to Ludovico that it became the innovative and unique space we can still admire today, although to a small extent.
It was then used as a ceremonial room, and must represent him, his power, his prestige, the solidity of his government.
The task was entrusted to Leonardo, who took inspiration from those ephemeral architectures he had often created for the occasional court celebrations. He designed an outdoor setting, defined by the interweaving of the branches of leafy trees. The tribute his work was to pay to Ludovico,  was signified by  the choice of a specific tree: Mulberry tree, which, in Italian, was also called ‘Morone’ or ‘Moro’ reminding to the duke’s nickname. A nickname honoured by court poets of the time and linked to a passage by Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79) in its Naturalis Historia, which celebrates the Morone as ‘the wisest of plants’, because it is the last to bear flowers in spring, without risking them being hit from frosts. A useful talent for a statesman.

Sala delle Asse a one-off artwork

Sala delle Asse, detail of the ceiling
Sala delle Asse, detail of the ceiling

But the absolute novelty of the Sala delle Asse decor is not to be found in symbols and political references,  but in the representation of nature. Leonardo’s trees are not a mere study of botany, nor a late Gothic millefleur tapestry, on the contrary, they are a representation of a fertile nature, prodigal of fruits. We are at the height of summer, when mulberry fruits turn red. The allegorical transfiguration of the composition in no way limits the veracity of the phenomenal nature.
It is exactly here, in Leonardo’s room, that the life of nature begins to be part of the artistic imagery.

What is left of Leonardo’s work

But it was 1498, Ludovico was about to be defeated by the French. The Castle was first occupied by their soldiers and then abandoned. Leonardo had no time to finish his work and the fall of the duchy meant that his intervention went quickly lost while the echo of it among other artists remained limited, if not non-existent.
Partial as it was and still is, repainted and poorly documented, the Sala delle Asse, remains unique, and is now subject to a study begun as early as 2006, while an ongoing investigative restoration work was started in  2013.

Visit Sala delle Asse

In the year of the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, an exhibition is open until January 12th 2020: In the shadow of the Moro. The Sala delle Asse. It allows visitors into the room to admire the surviving monochrome decoration and other exceptional traces of preparatory drawings emerged during restoration works.

Sala delle Asse is at the Sforza Castle, Piazza Castello, Milan
Opening times:
Castle: Free entrance 7 am-7.30 pm
Castle Museums (including Sala delle Asse): 9 am-5.30 pm Tue-Sun
Last admission 5 pm

If you wish to know more about our Leonardo tours, check here. We will be glad to help you discover more!

LEONARDO AT THE SFORZA CASTLE

Brera Art Gallery Tour

BRERA ART GALLERY IN MILAN

Brera Art Gallery holds one of the most amazing collections of Italian art in the world from 1300 to the present day. You’ll find masterpieces by Andrea Mantegna, Piero della Francesca, Giovanni Bellini, Raffaello, Caravaggio, as well as outstanding 17th and 18th Century works from artists such as Canaletto and Francesco Hayez.

BRERA VS LAST SUPPER

We often hear that Milan is a discrete city not revealing too much at a superficial glance. It’s true, Milan needs to be discovered. It may take a little initiative, but you can rest assured that, once after the first impact, you’ll love it, and forever!
That’s why the Milanese are sometimes sorry to see the efforts of the visitors all focused on purchasing tickets for the Last Supper … when art in Milan offers so much in other places too.
One of these, perhaps the first among these, is the Brera Art Gallery.

BRERA ART GALLERY

Housed in the heart of the artsy Brera neighbourhood, the Palazzo di Brera is itself is a work of art and once inside, it displays works from the 14th to the 20th   Century. Although a lesser known one, Brera Art Gallery is one of the best art museums in Europe and in the world and, for those who love painting, a true, tiny paradise.

Brera Art Gallery is one of the great museums of European tradition, but we would not start by saying so to define it. As a first thing, we would say that Brera resembles Milan in its ability to change, renew itself and know how to be contemporary. Once inside Brera, it is its lively atmosphere that conquer us. Thanks to director James Bradburne, that really has injected energy into the museum, the walls change colour, lighting and layout to better meet the needs of visitors.

VISITING BRERA ART GALLERY

What’s more, visiting Brera is easy. The central position, in the heart of the homonymous district, is easily reachable on foot from the Duomo as well as from the Sforza Castle. There are hardly any queues for admission and it is not necessary to book months in advance, hoping to get lucky!

Brera is also a museum of medium size, large enough to satisfy our thirst for beauty, but not so much to risk getting lost in the rooms or end up being exhausted.

Of the approximately 400 works in the collection, the thing that impresses is not the extent, but the percentage of masterpieces, concentrated in a limited total number of rooms.

WHAT TO SEE AT BRERA ART GALLERY

The surprising collection of works of art in Brera, ranges from the fourteenth to the twentieth century.
To know what you should not miss in Brera, please check here.

BOOK YOUR BRERA TOUR WITH ACANTO

According to your plans and schedule, consider that a quick yet enjoyable tour of Brera Art Gallery will take at least an hour and a half.

PERSONALISE YOUR BRERA TOUR

Brera is not only an amazing Art Gallery, but also one of the cosiest district in Milan so, you can make the most of your experience by designing your tour to include more than the tour of the Brera collection, and extend it to include
a stroll through the narrow streets of Brera district with us to discover every secret retracing the enchantment of the canals and following the traces of their presence in the area.

To find some more of the Brera District, please check here.
…Just send us an e-mail!

Brera Art Gallery Tour

Make the most of the Brera Art Gallery

Brera Art Gallery, entrance from Bar Fernanda

Brera Art Gallery definitely is one of the most intriguing museums in Europe and one of the essential destinations for getting to know -and love- Milan.
In the following lines we would like to explain you why, and give you suggestions on what not to miss on a tour at Brera. Enjoy the reading!
Consider that in today’s world Brera Art Gallery represents the idea of a modern museum, but it is at the same time among those of the oldest foundation. It seems a contradiction, so… let’s start with a little history.

A little Brera history

Brera was founded in 1776, as an articulated modern cultural centre. Right from the start it hosted the Academy of Fine Arts, the Lombard Institute of Sciences and Letters, an astronomical Observatory, the Library and the Milanese botanical garden. It was the result of the orderly modernization carried out in Milan by the Austrian government and a real secular pole of culture, in opposition to that of the Ambrosiana, founded in the 1600s by Cardinal Federico Borromeo.
The art collection was started together with the starting of the Academy, and -specifically- for educational purposes… it was the Enlightenment!

While Milan was being updated, Paris was already starting the Revolution … and the Muséum Central des Art de la République, later simply referred to as the Louvre was be one of its sons since 1793.
Brera Art Gallery origin is not that of the Louvre, but the two certainly have something in common: they share the effects of Napoleon’s wars and politics subsequent to the Revolution. Milan, was chosen by Napoleon as its Italian capital, and the need to make it look like a real one made the Academy’s educational collection take the form of a proper museum, in the wake of the Parisian one, as early as 1809.

Brera Art Gallery Courtyard

While in Paris, the Louvre collections dramatically expanded thanks to the spoils of war, in Milan, in addition to that, also the suppression of religious orders contributed. The painter Andrea Appiani and Giuseppe Bossi, the legendary director of the Academy back then, governed the acquisitions and the development of the collections. Since 1805 Eugène de Beauharnais, godson of Napoleon and Italian Viceroy, also contributed to the growth of the first Italian ‘national’ museum following the model offered by the Louvre.

Brera Art Gallery Collections

The Brera collections, thus formed, included works from the territories that were conquered by the Napoleonic armies. The Lombard ones, but also many from the  Pontifical States, and from Veneto, so that today Brera has one of the richest Venetian art funds in the world.
Also some Flemish paintings by Rubens and Van Dyck make part of the collection thanks to exchanges with the Louvre itself.

When to go to Brera Art Gallery

Visiting Brera is simple, there is no need to pre-purchase tickets, nor to wait in line for hours. Simply reach the ticket office at the first floor – take the grand stairs at the end of the courtyard- and directly purchase the tickets.
Normally there are no queues and moreover, the opening time is very extensive: at 8.30am to 7.15pm.
Be careful though, remember that on Monday, like almost all the Milanese museums, Brera is closed and that the first Sunday of the month you risk queues – even very long – because access is free (even in this case, it is not just Brera, many other museums and sites in Milan and Italy adhere to ‘free Museum Sundays’).

Something special to start your tour at Brera

National Braidense Library at Brera

Maria Teresa Hall at the National Braidense Library
Once you pass the entrance to the Brera Art Gallery, you will find yourself in front of a large window overlooking the impressive reading room of the Braidense Library.
The imposing portrait of Empress Maria Teresa hanging on the central wall immediately reveals the link between Brera and Austrian rule in Milan, while
the eighteenth-century walnut shelves designed by architect Piermarini, show their beauty and elegance. The room is now  used for exhibitions and cultural events, but the library is still in full use and it is open from Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 6.15pm and Saturday from 9.00am to 1.45pm.
If you wish to see the great drop-shaped Bohemia crystal chandeliers up close, you can access from the entrance of the library, from the staircase that you will find along the corridors of the Academy at ground floor.

KNOW WHAT NOT TO MISS AT Brera Art Gallery

Andrea Mantegna – Lamentation over the Dead Christ

Brera Art Gallery. Andrea Mantegna, Lamentation over the dead Christ. Detail

You might be familiar with the work of Andrea Mantegna if you have had the opportunity to visit Mantua, the birthplace of this extraordinary Renaissance master. There, his frescoed ceiling of the Camera degli Sposi, is a masterpiece of perspective illusion. Illusionistic perspective is also the point when it comes to the Dead Christ housed in Brera to:  it is possibly the most famous example of foreshortening in the history of art.
Modern in every possible way, and maybe even cruel, it shows the corpse of Christ lying on a marble slab. No sanctity feeling, no idealisation, just a close-up on a real and really dead body, watched over by a weeping Virgin Mary.
The only concession to the raw realism of the whole composition is the forcing of the rules of perspective to resize the feet of Christ in the foreground. Mantegna’s sense of truth was not without a touch of gentleness.

Gentile and Giovanni Bellini – Saint Mark preaching in Alexandria

Brera Art Gallery. Gentile and Giovanni Bellini, Saint Mark preaching in Alexandria. Detail

If Mantegna’s work is about perspective, here is the size that makes the difference. With its 137 × 303 inches, this colossal canvas is one of the largest in the world. Part of a cycle of paintings dedicated to the story of the patron saint, this one was commissioned by the Venetian confraternity of the Scuola di San Marco, to painter Gentile Bellini.  As it was not quite finished when its author died in 1504, it was his younger brother Giovanni Bellini who completed it, requested to do so in Gentile’s will.
Historians are uncertain about which details belong to each of the two brothers, but no one denies the qualities of this impressive work of art.

Carlo Crivelli – Camerino Triptych

Brera Art Gallery, Carlo Crivelli, Camerino Triptych. Detail

Are you less fond of the Renaissance than you are willing to admit? It’s only because you haven’t met Carlo Crivelli yet!
What can we say about this unique master of the early Renaissance? Well, first of all that he really is unique. What he has in common with its contemporaries is the linear elegance of the drawing, festoons of fruit and symbolic references, the perfectly simulated marble details. What makes him different from all others is its reach vein of fantasy, the fabulously fraught and emotional faces, the three-dimensional gesso details. Meeting Carlo Crivelli will forever change your idea of Renaissance.

Piero della Francesca – Pala di Brera

Brera Art Gallery, Piero della Francesca, Pala di Brera. Detail

If Carlo Crivelli managed to confuse you, Piero della Francesca will confirm that Renaissance perfection exists and derives from mathematics. Order and symmetry in this huge work of art, are not just matter of style, they reflect the idea of a universe that’s based on harmony as a result of geometry. This altarpiece, commissioned by the lord of Urbino, Federico da Montefeltro, for his burial place, is so tied to the history of Brera that it is often referred to directly as the ‘Pala di Brera’.
What could we say about it? This work is simple perfection… and mistery at the same time! Have you noticed the ostrich egg? Why is it there?

Raffaello Sanzio – The marriage of the Virgin

Brera Art Gallery. Raffaello Sanzio, Marriage of the Virgin. Detail

Placed in the same room with Piero’s work, here is another example of perfection.
The Marriage of the Virgin, dating from 1504, shows how Raphael had absorbed the lesson of his teacher Perugino, from which he directly derives the general structure and iconography of this work, as well as Piero’s mastery in perspective. Held in a sunny place, the temple above and the  marriage scene below, all elements are connected by geometry. Everything is logical and rigorous, but also graceful and peaceful, including the young man in the foreground that brakes the rod that didn’t blossom (the story of  the wedding is told in the apocryphal gospels and later in the Golden Legend:  all men carried rods, he that owned the one that blossomed, was to become Mary’s husband).

Francesco Hayez – Il bacio (The kiss)

Brera Art Gallery. Francesco Hayez, Il bacio. Detail

You cannot leave Brera without a glance at Francesco Hayez celebrated Il bacio, a true icon in Italian Romantic art. Painted at the closing of the Risorgimento, the long and complicated independence fight that eventually brought the peninsula to become a State, it was welcome as a symbol of the newly unified Italy. But it is not just matter of politics, shown for the first time at the annual Brera exhibition in 1859, Il bacio was an immediate success. Why? Because it frames a true, romantic and passionate kiss!

GET A BREAK AT Bar Fernanda

Brera Art Gallery. Bar Fernanda

Under the guidance of director James Bradburne, Brera is renewing itself in order to really equal the great European museums and renovation includes a brand new Café! Bar Fernanda, open at first floor at the end of the Gallery tour, is named after Fernanda Wittgens, the first ever woman to run a museum in Italy in 1940. Fernanda Wittgens also was the responsible for the survival of the works of Brera removed and rescued from the bombings that destroyed 26 of the 34 rooms of the museum during the Second World War. She also has been the promoter of its reconstruction… after having spent 7 months in prison for anti-fascism.
Isn’t a coffee or an aperitivo the icing on the cake after a day dedicated to art and beauty?

One last thing before you leave

Brera, Botanical Garden

Brera Botanical Garden
Let’s share a secret! There is a garden at the back of Brera’s building and not just any garden, but a botanical one. Tiny, it measures 5.000 square metres only, it is a lovely hidden and silent oasis of peace in a busy city.
Once an orchard where the Gesuits cultivated medicinal plants, it was made a proper botanic garden with the starting of the Brera School of Botany. Nothing has changed since then, even if, since 1935, it is the University of Milan that manages it.
Save some little time after your Brera tour to enjoy the narrow flowerbeds and the tiny arboretum hosting the two Ginkgo biloba trees aged two centuries and a
half that became the symbol of the garden. 

Make the most of your time by booking an expert art historian to accompany you visiting Brera! We will be happy to show you what you cannot miss… and much more!
Go
check here to book your Brera tour with Acànto.

Make the most of the Brera Art Gallery

Outfit ‘900 versus Milan Fashion Week

Outfit ‘900 is a stylish fashion exhibition opened last year and still on display at Palazzo Morando in Milan. What does it have to do with the starting of Milan Fashion week? And why should it be one versus the other? Well, it’s because we believe it could be an ideal escape from September fashion craziness in Milan!

Milan Fashion Week 2018: an antidote

The fashion week is about to begin, with its electrifying energy and its colorful madness. It is undoubtedly the home of some of the world’s best-loved bi-annual fashion shows but, unlikely the Design Week, not an inclusive event.
Only those who are in the business actually participate to catwalks and parties. What is left to the rest of us is the electricity it leaves in the air, few truly elegant gentlemen and ladies strolling around, and thousands of crazy outfits worn by a multitude of self confident fashion addicted that will probably make us smile, or even laugh but, is it really what you are looking for? We believe not.

In the chaos of events and people, we want to go against the flow and encourage the lovers of glamour and elegance, to experience the pleasures of fashion in a different way. So, if you happen to be in Milan while the Fashion Week is on, and you are done with all the crazy stuff around, here’s our off the beaten path suggestion to put into your Milanese to-do list.

Outfit 900
Outfit 900. Ball gown, 1956-57 Curiel

Outfit ‘900 the exhibition

Outfit900, open until November 4th 2018 at Palazzo Morando, is a gem of good taste. It sums up the story of Twentieth-Century costume in 23 dresses selected among those belonging to the municipal collections. As the Twentieth-Century was a period that saw the most rapid and revolutionary changes in dress so far, do not expect the experience to be quiet. On the contrary, the exhibition path will be an exciting journey through both history and taste, and will also reveal valuable information about the social role of women over time.
Two different sections are dedicated to day and evening gowns. They show outfits tailor-made for dinners, weddings, theatre premiers, afternoon concerts as well as court gatherings.

Outfit 900
Outfit 900. Dinner gown, 1900

Outfit ‘900 the gowns from the start

The oldest outfit on display dates back to 1900. It is an amazing S-curve dinner gown with sparkling beads and lace. The waist is so tight it hurts to look at. And thinking about the rigid boned corset that also required a maid helper to be worn make it even worse.

Then there are the wedding dresses; an unusual one from the Thirties is made of dark blue silk velvet. The picture displayed next to it shows the bride also wearing a large fur collar. Yes, a photograph of the wedding day literally gives a face and a story to the dress. Consider that a large number of items in the collection come with documents from the donors. It helps retracing the story of costume and make the collection a valuable one.

Outfit 900
Outfit 900. Wedding dress, 1950-55 Sartoria Adelaide Scorta (Milan)

Outfit ‘900 the wedding dresses

A lavish wedding dress from 1952 is white and opulent. With its wide veil and the long train it shows how the end of the Second World War became a reason to celebrate, be beautiful and spend money! Just a couple of years after, a much more discrete high waist wedding dress dates back to 1975. Particularly troubled because of terrorism, the Seventies in Italy were a challenging, and maybe confusing time even in fashion.  Completely  is the pink wedding gown from 1990: knee-length skirt and double-breasted jacket with shoulder pads… should we say more? It reminds of soap operas like Dallas or Dynasty and, well, I guess it could hardly be a choice today.

 

 

OUTFIT 900
Outfit 900. Court gathering gown, 1922-24 Worth/André Perugia (Paris)

Outfit ‘900 the evening dresses from the Twenties

The most exciting rooms are those fulfilled with evening gowns… ah, so beautiful!
Among the first to appear is a white dropped waist evening one. It was especially made in 1922 for a court gathering from the House of Worth. In the era of Art Deco planarity, even the body was conceived of as essentially bi-dimensional.
Liberty&Co also is present with a 1925 asymmetrical evening outfit. It is all sheer fabrics and pleats to give freedom of movement, while fringing, beads, and tassels swayed with the beat in the roaring Twenties!

 

Outfit 900
Outfit 900. Evening gown, 1930-35 Worth Paris

Outfit ‘900 the evening dresses from the Thirties to the Fifties

The Thirties were even more fashionable. Cloth was cut across the grain. This technique, called bias cutting, used more fabric but produced flattering gowns, which had sweeping skirts but clung to the bosom and hips. The amazing purple 1930-35 bareback outfits from the House of Worth prove it. So Hollywood like!
And then Dior’s New Look came along, once more repudiating the natural lines of the body by citing the eighteenth and nineteenth century silhouettes. The Curiel evening gown ‘floating’ in the entrance room perfectly symbolizes the return to femininity with an exquisitely constructed piece. If the Curiel evening dress was meant for a very young girl, the sexy green one from 1950-55 definitely belonged to a more feminine and curvy woman. Its high heels shoes, also on show, embody the idea of a woman that knows how to be both, mother and diva.

Outfit 900
Outfit 900. Blouson, 1988 Krizia

Outfit ‘900 towards the new millennium

As year 2000 approached, that of fashion became a more and more intricate path. Since the Sixties Pucci forged a radical departure from convention with its colored impalpable veils. Not only the reflection of a sexual revolution, but also of a new shape for the body. Super slim bodies could wear tights and leotards.
The multifaceted Seventies often revisited styles from previous decades or faraway Countries.  Yves Saint Laurent clearly did in his 1976 gala dress: definitely too far from nowadays idea of Haute Couture’.
And let’s not forget a bit of Japanese influence in the elaborate taffeta blouson Krizia created in 1988 that closes the exhibition.

Outfit ‘900 is at Palazzo Morando

Palazzo Morando, whose complete name should be Palazzo Morando Costume Moda Immagine, is located in the heart of the fashion district, which is also the reason why this beautiful eighteenth-century dwelling, started as a collection of historical paintings, has become the hybrid and multileveled site for both history and fashion we can now enjoy.
Moving through the rooms of Palazzo Morando means getting lost in elegance: the beautiful paintings, the haute couture costumes and the lavish décor of the interiors.

So, why waiting? While the often unsalvageable bad taste of the fashion bloggers want to-be invades the city during the Milan Fashion Week, find some peace at Palazzo Morando and enjoy its cosy yet super classy exhibition Outfit ‘900.

Outfit ‘900, some practical info

Open until November 4th, 2018
Palazzo Morando Costume Moda Immagine
Via S. Andrea, 6 Milan
Open 9am-1pm / 2-5.30pm – Closed on Monday
Free entrance

For more details check the exhibition catalogue.
And if you wish to visit the exhibition with us, send us an email.

You might also wish to know some more about fashion and museums in Milan, if you do , check this out on our website.

 

Outfit ‘900 versus Milan Fashion Week

Things to do in Milan when it’s hot! Green ideas

Are there things to do in Milan when it’s hot?  Yes there are!
With temperatures rising and summer now in full swing, exploring Milan might become a serious challenge. Find here some reasons not to give up your Milanese tour… by including some green areas. Milan offers both traditional and unexpected green corners that will make your experience worth despite the heat.

Find some shade in the public parks

Things to do in Milan when it's hot
Things to do in Milan when it’s Hot! Indro Montanelli Gardens

Starting from the classics, find some shade in the public parks. As you probably already have been to the Castello Sforzesco, you know it opens onto the beautiful Parco Sempione. Located in the heart of the city centre, it is the first that comes to mind, and a walk there after a tour at the fortress is surely one of the things to do in Milan when it’s hot!
Beside this central one, Milan offers other lovely green spots, like  Indro Montanelli Gardens.  They are the oldest public park in the city, established in 1784, and still among the most beautiful. If you have any difficulty finding them, ask for the Gardens of Porta Venezia, as so they were called until 2002 and Milanese, well… tend to cling to certain habits!

Both if you need a break from the summer heat or simply some moments of peace, Indro Montanelli Gardens are ideal all year round. Trees, ponds, bridges and small waterfalls are a real joy, an oasis of peace in a busy city. Furthermore, two other interesting spots are to be found within the leafy ground of the Gardens: the Natural History Museum (with its dinosaur skeletons!) and the Milanese Planetarium that circumscribe its boundaries. Needless to say, that both are ideal if you travel with children.

Orticola: Indro Montanelli Garden Flower show

Orticola Flower Show at Indro Montanelli Gardens

Well, as I’m writing in this hot days, I can’t help but think of my favorite moment of the year at the Indro Montanelli Gardens: Orticola, the Milanese Flower Show that takes place here in May… and makes the Gardens look magical!
I understand that, being now August, it’s a bit late to write about it. I’m also aware that Flower Shows are probably not the reason you came, or will come, to Milan but, in case you are still planning a trip to the city and you like flowers, well, choose May! Orticola Flower Show will definitely surprise you and add a touch of wonder to your Milanese stay. It is, no doubt, the most colourful among the events that colour the busy Milanese schedule… and yes, the most romantic!

A brief history of Orticola

Orticola Flower Show at Indro Montanelli Gardens

Orticola Flower Show takes place in Milan since 1996, not a long tradition, yet one that grows strong and counts 160 exhibitors as well as some 30.000 visitors during the 3 opening days.
Longer then the show, is the story of the Lombard Horticultural Society that organizes it. It was born in 1854 on the model of the French “Société d’Horticulture de France” and with the philantropic aim of improving and protecting the city’s green spaces, which they still do.
Ok, the fresh air of may is long time gone and so are its Flower Shows, but Orticola’s activities have much more to offer, even in hot August! And this brings us to the next green Milanese experience: the vegetable garden!

Enjoy a vegetable garden 

The advent of urban vegetable gardens in big cities begun after World War II, both in Europe and in the United States. Little known is that, since the Eighties, they exist even in the busy Milan and… believe it or not, the city has become a true example of horticultural cultivation next door!

City Life and Orticola: the newest vegetable garden

Things to do in Milan when it’s Hot! Vegetable Garden at City Life

Several vegetable gardens in the Milan area are carried out by associations or privates, or directly managed by the City of Milan. Surprisingly, one of them is to be found in the luxurious City Life district. Here 2,000 square meters of revisited Italian vegetable garden have been set up, by Orticola gardeners, just below the new high-rise buildings, to guide visitors to discover biodiversity.
So, as City Life is definitely a must-see in Milan, not only for its amazing architecture, but also for the super-large green area it is immersed in, why not take advantage and extend your promenade to enjoy its vegetable garden?

Citi Life, Zaha Hadid apartment buildings

By the way, you already know everything about City Life, right? If you don’t, well, it’s the futuristic new district that’s now in place of the former Milan Trade Fair area. A state of the art brand-new neighbourhood composed by elegant residential buildings, commercial towers and green spaces that cover an overall area of 366,000 square meters in the north-west of Milan based on a master plan by Daniel Liebeskind, Zaha Hadid, and Arata Isozaki. If you want to know more, read here.
And, if it is still too hot, remember that City Life also has a brand new shopping mall… with air conditioning (we probably should officially add air conditioning to the things to do in Milan when it’s hot!).

Discover a most unexpected green spot at Vertical Forest

Things to do in Milan when it’s hot! Vertical Forest at Porta Nuova

If you are a fan of contemporary and you enjoyed City Life and its green, there is something more Milan might offer you: the Vertical Forest!
Located in ‘the other’ newest Milanese district, that of Porta Nuova, the Vertical Forest is a pair of award-winning residential towers literally covered in trees (you see, we promised classic, but also unexpected green!)
The construction started in 2009 and was completed in 2014, and since then, it won numerous awards including the International High-rise Award in 2014 and the Best Tall Building Worldwide in 2015.
Both an example of how to eliminate urban sprawl and pollution, this one really deserves recognition as a botanical world wonder!

When environment meets luxury

Vertical Forest vegetal system accommodates approximately 800 trees, ranging from 3 to 9 meters high, and about 4,500 shrubs and 1,500 other plants distributed in relation to the façade’s position towards the sun.
It aids in the construction of a microclimate, produces humidity as well as oxygen, and absorbs CO2 and dust particles. It’s a true ‘living Façade’ as the exterior is constantly changing colours with the seasons and, yes, it is breathtakingly beautiful!
If you wish to know more, you can read here, or arrange your Acànto private tour to properly explore it.
So far, there’s just one Vertical Forest, and it’s in Milan but, as it proved a good idea, others will follow: Forêt Blanche, in Villiers sur Marne, Liuzhou Forest City in Liuzhou, China, and Trudo Vertical Forest in Eindhoven,  Wonderwoods in Utrecht, are ready to be built.
And what about a Vertical Forest on Mars??!! Check here, but let’s make it clear… we’ll let you go first!

How to get there:

Indro Montanelli Gardens

Indro Montanelli Gardens by metro: M1 Palestro, M1 Porta Venezia, M3 Turati, M3 Repubblica, all this stops are fine.
City Life by metro: M1 Amendola Fiera, M5 Tre Torri.
Vertical Forest by metro: M2 Garibaldi, M3 Zara, M5 Garibaldi
Mars by metro: we are working on this one.

 

Things to do in Milan when it’s hot! Green ideas

Milan Design Week 2018

Milan Design Week, what is it all about?

Milan Design Week 2018, MINI Don’t need a title

Milan Design Week 2018 is on!
The Milanese Design Week is not a trade fair, but a cultural kermesse that puts design on display sprawling throughout the city.
It is top of the list when it comes to have fun, feel part of a cool community, believe in creativity and convince ourselves that, if not beauty, design will save the world! But what is it all about?

Milan Design Week, a brief history of the Fuori Salone

Once upon a time – it was 1961! – the Salone Internazionale del Mobile (International Furniture Trade Show), was founded in Milan as a vehicle for promoting Italian furniture and furnishings exports.
It was a promising start, as the early 1960s were the years of the ‘Italian economic miracle’ and the moment  when Italian design reached its apogee after the post-war years. Everything seemed possible and much more was to follow.
Since the first editions, the ‘Salone del mobile’ attracted many people, including a large number of foreign visitors. It was clear that there was some potential, and the need to exploit it arose quickly. It was the furniture manufacturing company Cassina, the first to have the idea. They used their city centre store to double the exhibition space and show their products to more people, while the official trade show was open and its visitors were still in Milan.

Milan Design Week 2018 – Martinelli Luce at Triennale di Milano

Milan Design Week becomes official

Since the 1970’s having a second space in the city became usual and with the 1980’s the company stores started to be replaced by more striking temporary venues. The first to do so were some of the most rebellious and provocative designers of the period like Alchimia and Memphis. All of a sudden, it was clear that the Salone del Mobile and the city itself, had become synergetic. On the pages of “Abitare”, back in 1983, this new phenomenon, was first defined  as the ‘Fuorisalone’.
Shortly afterwards, it was up to Gilda Bojardi to make it official! It was her to create and publish the first guide to the Design Week: a calendar including all the coordinated events of the week.
So, it was thanks to a woman, who happens to be still in charge of the design magazine “Interni”, that the Design Week has become what it is nowadays.

The birth of Design Districts

Milan Design Week 2018, Zona Tortona, detail from a courtyard

Since the 1990s, the appearance of design installations in the streets, became familiar to the Milanese and so did  the legendary parties arranged by the leading design brands, set in unusual, and sometimes memorable, locations!
The spontaneous development of the Fuorisalone, started to become more organized with the 2000s, when some  spaces, like the cloisters of the State University, became an ad hoc location.  A little further form the city centre, the first Fuori Salone district was also created in a former industrial area: that of Zona Tortona. A real road sign system was set, the studios were opened for everyone to visit, private apartments were transformed into temporary exhibition spaces, and free beer and wine corners made their appearance. Music also became part of the show and memorable evenings took place contributing to add glamour.

Milan Design Districts today

Milan Design Week 2018, Cinquevie+, detail from La tavola scomposta

Back in 2013 the design districts were already 7. Today they are 11 and involve practically the entire city. Beside Zona Tortona this large  family now includes: Ventura Future and Ventura Centrale, Lambrate Design District, Porta Venezia in Design, Bovisa Design District, Brera Design District, Isola Design District, the newer Zona Santambrogio, 5vie Art + Design, MonteNapoleone Design Experience and the latest one: the Rainbow District.

Triennale di Milano

Given the number of areas, streets, courtyards, galleries and shops making part of the design circuit, a good planning is needed to be able to see them all… But here is one last place not to miss: the Triennale di Milano! Always lively, the Triennale becomes a real reference point during the Design Week, and an unavoidable appointment. House of the Triennale Design Museum, the first museum of Italian design, it also hosts many exciting Fuorisalone events and exhibitions throughout the week.

While you are there, do not miss the new exhibition Triennale Design Museum Stories. Italian Design, as usual, it won’t disappoint you!

Why is Milan Design Week the best Design Week?

Milan Design Week 2018, Brera district, Interni House in motion at the Botanical Garden

On the wake of the Milanese one, the development of international Design Weeks is surely increasing. There are Design Weeks in London, Barcelona, Paris, San Francisco and Tokyo just to mention some. But one thing is sure, Milan stays the design reference point in the world, and the most fun.
Enjoy!

Milan Design Week 2018

Italiana. Italy through the lens of fashion 1971-2001

Italiana. Italy through the lens of fashion 1971-2001.
An exhibition aiming to explore the myth of ‘Made in Italy’ in it’s symbolic home, Milan, is open at Palazzo Reale until May 6th 2018.

A gift from Milan Fashion Week

Milan Fashion Week 2018 and its busy schedule are over, but a gift is left for us to enjoy at Palazzo Reale: a fun, elegant, clever exhibition dedicated to the Italian fashion. Italiana. Italy through the lens of fashion, is set out over nine rooms and is worth a visit for more than one reason… starting with the simple, yet definitely gratifying pleasure of being surrounded by beautiful designers clothes.
Fashion victims, you are welcome!

The cultural and social value of Italian Fashion

ITALIANA. Italy through the lens of fashion 1971-2001 . A view.

On a deeper level, in a Country that has such a lead role in fashion industry, too little was left to the understanding of its history, and even less to the acknowledgment of its cultural role. Have you noticed that the ‘capital of fashion’ has no public -not to say national- museum dedicated to it?
So, an exhibition like this one, comes in help.

The idea here is not that of retracing the dynamics of the entire thing, so to say, from the post war beginnings up to nowadays, that would be really too much. Nonetheless, the curators – Maria Luisa Frisa and Stefano Tonchi, both seriously committed to fashion since a long time – have undertaken an ambitious task: retracing that crucial period that goes from 1971 to 2001.

ITALIANA. Italy through the lens of fashion 1971-2001. A view.

30 years of Italian fashion on show in Milan

Why focusing on this time interval? Because both years are emblematic and could be seen as the starting and end of a certain idea of ‘made in Italy’.

1971 is the year that symbolizes the birth of Italian ready to wear fashion. It was then when Walter Albini, a mythical, yet sadly often forgotten designer decided to present its collection in Milan, at the Circolo del Giardino. It was a big change as fashion shows traditionally took place in historic Florence at Sala Bianca in Palazzo Pitti. He did it for a very practical reason: to be close to his means of production. Non the less, it truly was the birth of Italian prêt-àporter well as the day one of ‘Milan capital of fashion’.

Made in Italy, ready to wear, stilista… a vocabulary of Italian fashion

ITALIANA. Italy through the lens of fashion 1971-2001. Versace 1992

It is since this pivotal moment, that a different concept of the relationship between design and production started to define what we simply call ‘made in Italy’: a full circle of production that goes from manufacturing, to design, to marketing.
Since then the ‘stilista’, which is still an untranslatable term was born.
Since then ‘Italian style’ become shorthand for good taste.

The story of Italy through the lens of fashion

The nine rooms of the exhibition focus on a series of themes – Identity, Democracy, Logomania, Diorama, Project room, Bazar, Postproduction, Glocalization, The Italy of objects – trying to retrace the story of Italianness through the lens of fashion.

Other creative fields also play a role. Iconic design objects as well as images by iconic photographers like Oliviero Toscani, Alfa Castaldi and Paolo Roversi are on show.  Michelangelo Pistoletto, Maurizio Cattelan, Francesco Vezzoli, and Alighiero Boetti are some artists whose work also contributes to the narration of this story.

A story that comes to an end in year 2001.
2001 is not only the moment when 9/11 terrorist attacks shook up the whole international system, it also symbolizes the transition from national to international. The year when Gucci was sold to a French luxury retail group…

In a world where global is the keyword for everything, this exhibitions tries to retrace a crucial period of recent history when ‘made in Italy’ meant something easy to distinguish as Italian only.

ITALIANA. Italy through the lens of fashion 1971-2001. Moschino 1985

ITALIANA. Italy through the lens of fashion 1971-2001, some practical info

February 2 / May 6, 2018
Palazzo Reale, Milan
open daily

For more details check the exhibition webpage.
And if you wish to visit the exhibition with us, send us an email.

You might also wish to know some more about fashion and museums in Milan, if you do , check this out on our website.

Italiana. Italy through the lens of fashion 1971-2001

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, watching architecture and shopping in Milan

A real gem in the Milanese landscape, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is capable to distract the eye from the ravishing Duomo.  Find here some more of its history and traditions.

A Milanese shopping mall, a European passage like no other

One of the most outstanding Milanese architecture opens onto Piazza del Duomo with a monumental arch. It’s the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
Built in between 1865 and 1867, it was not the first of this sort, on the contrary, the genre itself was already starting to decline when this one came along. Nonetheless, this latest, tired and possibly conventional creature, was to overcome all others and completely revitalise the category itself. Its unheard monumentality literally revolutionised the panorama of galleries around Europe. 32 metres high roofs that rise to 47 at the top of the dome and a diameter of 39 meters… the Milanese Galleria became an undisputed model throughout the world, and still is.

“For its proportions the Italian creation far outstrips all that has gone before it” was written in the Encylopédie de l’architecture et de la construction by Pierre Planat in 1889.

Galleria-Vittorio-Emanuele-II
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in the drawing from architect Giuseppe Mengoni

Under the crystal sky

Thanks to a complex logistical organization and an army of men at work, the term of two years for the construction was respected. The Galleria opened on September 15th, 1867, and projected Milan towards an international horizon of modernity.
Building the iron vaults and the central cupola took about 5 months, a very short time for such an innovative building practice and material. Once it was finished, this transparent sky was not just the most innovative part of the construction, it also became the most striking part of it.

Grandeur and mistery at Piazza Duomo

If the crystal sky lent the Gallery a particularly modern flair, it is the grand entrance facing Piazza Duomo that makes it so impressive.
The completion of the arch required some longer time while financial problems and the mismanagement of the building contractor obliged the municipality to purchase it to finally have it achieved. A second opening ceremony took place late in February 1878. It was not as cheerful as that of 11 years before as architect Giuseppe Mengoni, died falling from the scaffoldings less than a month prior to the opening. Was it an accident? Was it suicide due to the money issues or the pressure he was subjected? An official inquiry led to no conclusion.

Shopping at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

A view of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Despite all troubles, the Gallery was a success. It was blessed with people while activities took place not only in the shops at ground floor, but also in the internal units of the building. Tailors and fashion houses, watchmakers, photographers and decorators, publishers and newspapers had their spaces. Not much has changed since then. The Gallery still plays a key role in marketing strategies. No surprise if all the big players of Made in Italy long for a window or two along its sides.

Dining at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Shopping is a serious thing at Galleria, but the real key to its success, always were -and are- the meeting places. There are the historical ones, starting with Camparino, a landmark place when it comes to a true Milanese aperitivo, or at least a good -very good!-, coffee. Motta Milano 1928, recently redesigned to look brand-new.   Also an historical restaurant is  Savini… whose name rhymes with tradition itself.  But Milan also aims to be contemporary and makes room to new adventures:  the latest is the ‘house-restaurant’ from starred chef Carlo Cracco in Galleria, literally just open (February 21st 2018) and intriguingly ambitious, with its 5 floors dedicated to food and glamour!

Rituals at the gallery. The rattin

The ‘rattin’ is kept at Palazzo Morando Costume, Moda, Immagine

So, in the end, what is it that makes the Gallery so dear to the Milanese? The answer is: traditions. Do not be mistaken, Milanese run fast, but never forget their habits and always celebrate their rituals. A daily one took place at dusk in the era of gas light, when a small sophisticated device was set to run around the dome to illuminate the Gallery. This machine was something similar to a little train running on rails and as swift as a ‘little mouse’ which, in Milanese dialect is Rattin.
Rattin, who had speed regulator, brake system and a state of the art technology, was started by a spring and ran around the cupola lighting it as it passed some six hundred gas jets along its way… one truly unmissable performance that enchanted the Milanese for 18 long years, until electricity came along.

Workers of Union de Gaz with the ‘rattin’

Spinning on the bull in Galleria

If rattin is no longer in use (but we can still see it at Palazzo Morando, where it is kept), another ritual survives since the first days of the gallery: that of spinning on the bull!
Here is the story. A multi-coloured marble and enamel mosaic floor covers the gallery pavement. It was designed to honour the first cities of the new born Italian Country: Milan of course being the host and then Turin, first capital of Italy from 1861 up to 1865, Florence, capital of the Country until 1871 and Rome, capital since then. Their coats of arms are portrayed on the floor, and that of Turin represents a bull.
For some reasons we actually cannot explain (let’s leave out all the weirdest and silly ones), we believe it brings good luck to spin on the bull. Do it three times counter-clockwise. And if you do, be careful: place your right heel on the bull’s… balls, or it won’t work!

The Bull at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

A little yet brilliant exhibition  at the Sforza Castle, illustrates  the story of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II  until March 18th 2018.

Set at: Cortile della Rocchetta, Sala del Tesoro
tue-sun 9 am-5.30 pm

For more details check the exhibition webpage.

And if you wish to visit the Galleria (or the Exhibition!) with us, send us an email.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, watching architecture and shopping in Milan

Last Supper Tickets news and more

Times are changing at the Last Supper, including Last Supper tickets availability!
The times seem to change at the Last Supper, and for the better. Getting closer to 2019, when it will be 500 years since Leonardo’s death, and after two years of studies and careful observation, some innovations will be introduced as reported by the Milanese newspaper “Corriere della Sera”, in an article dated January 2nd, 2018.

What innovations should we expect at the Last Supper?

Those we were actually waiting for: the air will be cleaner, more people will be allowed in the Refettorio, the selling system of the Last Supper tickets will be improved, …and the painting will, optimistically, last longer!
But let’s go by order.

Was there something wrong with the Last Supper?

Of course! Starting from the very first day, when Leonardo himself, back in 1494, decided he wanted to experience something different from a good, traditional ‘fresco’ painting, many things went wrong with the Last Supper. The pigments constantly falling from the wall. The opening of a door in the middle of it in 1652. The presence of ill-mannered French soldiers under Napoleon throwing stones at it, and the awful summer night when a second world war bomb miraculously missed to erase it once and forever.

Last Supper tickets news and more
Last Supper tickets news and more. The bombing in 1943

The need to save it

If the times we almost lost it are quite a few, many are those we tried to save it as well. Seven distinct attempts in all, with a last one that, alone, took 20 years of work and devotion. But, being it a real need or the wish to be ‘the one that saved it’ (as some experts complain that the non stop intervention makes the handwork, paradoxically, more fragile) some more is up and coming.

Fresh air for the Last Supper, an environmental restoration

Starting with the work of University of Milano-Bicocca, Cnr, Politecnico di Milano, University of Bologna and Hong Kong, and thanks to the contribution of the Italian marketplace chain Eataly, a  state-of-the-art filtration system will be installed.

Last Supper tickets news and more.
Last Supper tickets news and more. Detail of the painting

More room for the visitors

Today, up to 30 people can enter every 15 minutes, for a total of 1,310 entries per day. Not many, and this is one of the problems when finding tickets. Now, the “Corriere della Sera” informs that a scientific committee set up by the General Secretariat with the Museums Directorate, the Superintendency and the Istituto Superiore di Restauro, confirms that the Refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie has passed tests: the air inside the room is good. The particulates remained below the threshold, with averages of 3 micrograms per cubic meter and a maximum of 4, much lower than the data of two years ago. Thanks to this data, more people will be allowed and there will be an increase of 15% per day.

Last Supper tickets, what’s new?

So, apparently, the air is clean and the refectory is going to welcome more of us. But will tickets be as hard to come by as usual? Probably not! A new arrangement for the management of ticketing services will be introduced starting from July 2018. Rules that constrain the buying and reselling seem to have been established.
Fingers crossed then, and… enjoy your perfect experience at the Last Supper with a made to measure Acànto guided tour!

Last Supper Tickets news and more

Frida Kahlo Beyond the myth

Frida Kahlo Beyond the myth, open at MUDEC-Museum of Cultures in Milan from February 1 to June 3, 2018,  aims to celebrate the iconic Mexican painter and reconfirm her talent through a new investigation on her work and life.

Those who think they know everything about her, each detail of her troubled and intense life and loves, the traditional Tehuana costumes she used to wear, the lips painted red, her injuries, her  political activism… will be surprised!

Frida Kahlo Beyond the myth
Frida Kahlo Beyond the myth, a picture of Frida

Frida Kahlo, what’s new

It is true, many are the exhibitions dedicated to Frida Kahlo in Mexico and around the world in this last years, as well as movies, documentaries and biographies; most of them regarding her as a social phenomenon and making constant reference to her colourful and tragic life as the main, if not only content of her work.
As the title – Frida Kahlo Beyond the myth – announces, this new one,  promises to try a different path.
…and it all starts with a mystery revealed.

La Casa Azul and some locked door

Diego Rivera, painter and Frida’s husband, established a trust fund to take care of his and his wife work and made his long time friend Dolores Olmedo director of their museums, opened in 1958. As per Rivera’s request, the bathroom they occupied at Casa Azul, as well as the little storage space beside it, remained closed for 15 years after his death. Olmedo, whose direction was in many ways controversial, not only respected his will, but also lengthened it by keeping it close until her own death.
It is so that the closure of these spaces for decades, heightened the aura of mystery surrounding Kahlo’s figure, and it was only in 2004 that “el mìtico baño de la Casa Azul” was finally open.
It was left in a state of abandon and disorder, full of personal objects belonging to Frida. There were her clothes, the full traditional skirts, the corsets and the prosthetic leg that eventually replaced her bad one crippled by polio. None of them is now a secret, as many pictures were taken, and many exhibitions arranged throughout the world. Non the less, beside her clothes and stuff, it contained letters, pictures and many other personal objects.

Frida Kahlo at MUDEC

It is exactly starting from this newfound material, as well as that of the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera archives in Mexico City –open in 2007, 50 years after Diego Rivera’s death and 100 hundred years after Frida’s birth- that this Milanese exhibition has been developed.
Diego Sileo, whom, in 2010, was the only European member of the research program on these new Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera archives, is now, after 6 years of researches, the curator of the Milanese exhibition.

The works on display in Milan include the complete Dolores Olmedo collection and that of Jacques and Natasha Gelman.
Olmedo, who had scarce appreciation of Frida’s work, but, as opposed to that, was an enthusiastic fan of Rivera’s, bought her work to please the old painter in his last years and, by doing so, put together the most significant private holding of Frida’s works, composed of 25 paintings.
Jacques and Natasha Gelman, were part of a more conventional, yet amazing class of patrons, who collected art from all over the world, with a special care for that of living Mexican artists, starting from the Forties’ of the Twentieth Century.

Frida Kahlo Beyond the myth. What to expect

Frida Kahlo Beyond the myth
Frida Kahlo Beyond the myth, a picture of Frida by Nickolas Muray

Given the premises, this exhibition should really satisfy every wish to deepen one’s knowledge of Frida so, what should we expect?
Of course the re-tracing of her intense life, the all-consuming romance with her irrepressible husband Diego Rivera, the physical anguish, the colorful clothing and the crowns of braids, but also more than this.
A taste of Mexico, a dive into the Mexican Renaissance, a colored journey through the art of retablos, as well as a more mature way to read and perhaps understand the work of an artist beyond biographical stereotypes.

Frida Kahlo Beyond the myth, some practical info

February 1 / June 3, 2018
MUDEC-Museum of Cultures, Milan

Opening times:
monday 02.30 pm – 07.30 pm
tuesday/wednesday – friday/sunday am – 07.30 pm
thursday and saturday 09.30 am – 10.30 pm

For more details check the exhibition webpage.

And if you wish to visit the exhibition with us, send us an email.

Frida Kahlo Beyond the myth

Inside Caravaggio, Milan

Housed in Milan at Palazzo Reale, Dentro Caravaggio –Inside Caravaggio– was worth waiting. Displaying 18 works together for the first time ever (from September 29th to January 28th 2018), it offers a fascinating journey through its work , and his troubled life and time.

Inside Caravaggio, Milan
Caravaggio, Boy bitten by a lizard, R. Longhi Foundation, Florence

Caravaggio’s works on display, from early days to the end of a revolutionary journey in art and life

Starting with the Repentant Magdalene, one of his first works already showing a non conventional realism and a hint of rebellion suggested by the use of a friend courtesan as a model, the display takes us by the hand from the beginning to the end of his career.
The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, the Fortune teller, and the intense Boy bitten by a lizard deepen the knowledge of his research on composition and use of light and explain us his working method.
The Ecstasy of Saint Francis is faithful to the texts (in this case that of Saint Bonaventura), but true to the anatomy of the bodies as well. It is not by chance if the beautiful angel holding the ecstatic body of Francis is not a six-winged seraph, but only wears simple wings reminding to those of a real bird… truth at all costs is the key to Caravaggio’s work.
Two versions of Saint John the Baptist seem to dialogue with an old Saint Jerome in meditation showing how Caravaggio was able to range from youth to old age with the same truth, but also the same grace.

Inside Caravaggio, Milan
Caravaggio, Crowning with thorns, Banca Popolare di Vicenza

And then, the intense Crowing with thorns -the lesser known version owned by Banca Popolare di Vicenza- and the large and impressive Flagellation from Naples, open the view on a most dramatic human condition, that of pain, both psychological and physical. A sign of the time, given the life changing event that occurred in 1606: the murder of Ranuccio Tomassoni. By accident? On purpose? The reason of the intensification of his work non the less. As Eduard A. Safarik once wrote, Caravaggio came to explore with unparalleled depth, similar only in Shakespeare’s tragedy, the perennial conflict between the prosecutor and the victim.
The last rooms tell about the escape to Naples and the extraordinary experience in Malta, testified by the Portrait of a knight of Malta, of unsure identity, but definitely the most amazing and intense portrait ever made by Caravaggio. And a last masterpiece The martyrdom of Saint Ursula, painted in 1610, the year of his tragic death, concludes the journey.

Inside Caravaggio Multimedia support… art and technology

Inside Caravaggio, Milan
Caravaggio, S. Jerome in meditation, Museum of Monserrat, Spain

Inside Caravaggio benefits of a clever (and fun) multimedia equipment that provides a short video with radiographic images  for each painting. Simply a door open to the artist’s workflow, from the first intuition, throughout his concerns with the composition, to the the final touch. Thanks to this, we are to discover secrets: like the inclination of the head of Olophernes (Judith and Olophernes) that was changed 3 times to achieve the most dramatic climax, as well as the subtle traces Caravaggio used as a guidance, mostly without drawing… and I’ll tell no more!

The reason of this effort made by the curators is due to the fact that all the paintings on show recently underwent an extensive work of research and analysis, leading to a new awareness of Caravaggio’s methods and genius.

Inside Caravaggio, some practical info

September 29, 2017 / January 28, 2018
Palazzo Reale, Milan
open daily

For more details check the exhibition webpage.

And if you wish to visit the exhibition with us, send us an email.

 

Inside Caravaggio, Milan

Bernina Express day trip

Bernina Express

Bernina Express day trip is a lifetime experience. It surely requires a certain planning, but moving back and forth from flat cosmopolitan Milan to pristine Skt. Moritz is not only possible, but also amazing.

A train that goes uphill!

“The journey, not the destination matters…” once wrote T.S. Eliot. Was he thinking about Bernina Express?!
Practically made for the purpose of sightseeing, Bernina Express makes high-speed trains look boring! A real masterpiece of engineering, it goes uphill and, as well as not as fast, it is surely much more fun. The large windows of the panoramic coaches especially designed by Pininfarina allow a mesmerizing view while the train runs up across a UNESCO world heritage site and connects Italy to Switzerland.

The route

Bernina Express leaves from Tirano and reaches Skt. Moritz (or vice versa) in about 3 hours. The route, punctuated by spiral loops, tunnels and 196 bridges, is a breathtaking journey that winds through all sort of amazing landscapes. Swiss Alps, glaciers, lakes and forests are all around. Verdant or covered in snow, it is worth 12 months a year with no exception!
Tirano and Skt. Moritz are to be part of the experience, both beautiful and worth a visit with our guide, to save you time and multiply your knowledge.

Book your Bernina Express experience

Starting with a car to drive you to the train station in Tirano from your very hotel or stay in Milan, Acànto will arrange every detail of your day trip and provide you with an expert local guide to accompany you. We will make sure you have all the information, the tickets and also some time on your own to stroll along Skt. Moritz before your driver takes you back to Milan.

Write us at emanuela@acantomilano.it, and just forget the rest!

Bernina Express day trip

MICE and Corporate events

Milano, a city that’s just the perfect fit…

Cultural heritage is the best opportunity to make your event a success and Acànto is the ideal partner to project, realise and run it.
The most classical or most unusual tour, the exclusive private opening of a museum, the access to the most interesting temporary exhibition of the season, an art exhibition for you alone or the idea that’s yet to come to be totally customised upon your guests’ needs…
Milano offers its best; Acànto adds its skill, passion, creativity and its long time knowledge in the organization of guided tours and cultural events.

An Acànto Milan tour guide for your guests

Tour Operators and Travel Agents might take a look at our Milan walking tours  and Milan private tours pages to discover our recommended itineraries. They are ideal for small family groups but also for organized ones. You will find everything about Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper and work in Milan, a selection of sightseeing itineraries dedicated to those that are in town for the first time or, on the contrary, wish to discover more, being it archaeology or contemporary architecture, a museum or the latest art exhibition… and some ideas for the future, to help plan a visit in the next few months.

On every occasion, Acànto will make sure your guests fill like individuals when visiting Milan as a part of a group.

Call or write to us, together we will find the most effective solution for your guests and groups, ensuring the success of your event  or cultural tour down to the smallest detail.

Acànto works with event companies, incentive houses, PCOs, travel agents and tour operators.

 

 

MICE and Corporate events

Art and Fashion Milan

The latest venues for culture and art… and fashion

Art and fashion never seemed to go along together as well as in this days. Fashion key players seems to be all eager to become patrons of the art.  In a city that has its reputation for style and keeps on renovating itself like Milan, it is certainly not out of place that  fashion brands have leading roles even in a more specifically cultural field, like that of museums.
Here is probably why, both Prada and Armani, happen to be the proud founders of 2 extremely interesting new art venues in Milan.

Armani Silos

Created on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of Armani’s empire, Armani Silos is a real temple of his creativity, born out of a former 1950s Nestlé granary at via Bergognone 40 (where  Tadao Ando-designed Armani’s showroom is also located). Four floors of outfits that have made the history of fashion, to get lost in!

Fondazione Prada

If you are not satisfied yet with the fashion+art combo, have a look at the brand-new Fondazione Prada.  Staged within a historic 20th-century distillery south of Milan’s city centre, it really goes beyond the traditional white museum box… it is actually gold! And do not expect to find another display of luxury outfits, on the contrary, the Foundation (and please, don’t call it ‘museum’) is solely devoted to contemporary art.
Fondazione Prada also opened the Osservatorio Prada, a detached space for temporary exhibition located at the rooftop of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Not only an art venue, but also a chance to have close and exclusive view of the pagoda glass roof top of the Galleria.

Make your Art and fashion Milan  tour

Fashion addicted and art lover? Just tell us time and day and we will arrange your dream tour!

Acànto tours are available in Italian, English, Russian, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and other languages upon request.

Art and Fashion Milan

Milan design capital

Milan and design

Milan design capital is not a common saying!
While Milan Design Week is one of the most important and yet fun event of the year, design in Milan is much more than this. The relation between this city and the history of design itself is long and fascinating, and has its roots in the small manufacturing companies which inherited the great Italian craft tradition since the end of Wold War Two. Traces of this history are easy to be found in the city and literally make Milan a design capital.

A Design Museum to start with

Well, in a city that, more than any other in Italy, represents the essence of design driven ambitions, Triennale Design Museum is the ideal start of every itinerary. It showcases the history of Italian design with continuously updated exhibitions of objects and crafts that make it unique in the panorama of Italian museums. Furthermore, located in the historical Palazzo dell’Arte, conceived by architect Giovanni Muzio in the early Thirties as an innovative multifunctional space, the museum is immersed in the peaceful Parco Sempione, ideal for a walk or an ‘aperitivo’ overlooking the verdant landscape of the park.

Milan Design Week headquarters

Also Zona Tortona, former industrial area now turned into the heart of Milanese design week,  is a place not to miss.  Crazy during the Design Week every mid April, it is lively all year round. The makeover involved international architects and designers like Mario Cucinella for the Deloitte headquarters, Matteo Thun for Tortona 37 office building and others.
Not least in this innovative context is MUDEC, Museum of Cultures, designed by David Chipperfield and established in 2015.

Our suggestion: if you are a design addict and you are planning a trip to Milan…do come in April!

Make your Milan design capital private tour

To find out more and book your tour, just write to us an e-mail at emanuela@acantomilano.it or give us a call at +39.339.7807759

Acànto tours are available in Italian, English, Russian, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and other languages upon request.

Milan design capital

Museums in Milan

Iconic museum sites

How many museums in Milan? Milan renews itself practically every day and new museums open as well as new high-rises grow. It’s exciting, and it keeps us busy wondering around. But don’t miss the icons!

Museums in Milan, starting from…

To start with, Brera Art Gallery  is THE place to see, not only because it displays the very best of Renaissance, including Raffaello, Piero della Francesca, Andrea Mantegna, just to quote some, but also because it is moving forward in a really exciting way: new set-up, new colours, new spaces!

…and nearby

As the city centre is not that big, also museums are not far from each other. A stone’s throw from Brera is the Scala Opera House Museum, a must-see for passionate music lovers; it also allows the access to the main foyer of the theatre and offers a breath-taking view on the stage, the orchestra pit and the entire parterre.*
Right beside the Scala Opera House, Gallerie d’Italia offer a journey through the 19th and 20th century Italian art and beauty, while Poldi Pezzoli Museum, housed in the owner’s former apartments along via Manzoni, is a real discovery: Pollaiolo, Botticelli, Mantegna, Piero della Francesca and Bellini are just some of the superb artworks it displays.

Not far from the above mentioned, is  the Duomo Museum, nestled on the side of Palazzo Reale, and completely renovated just a couple of years ago.  And then, last but not least, the Ambrosiana Art Gallery, founded by enthusiastic art lover and culture driven Cardinal Federico Borromeo at the beginning of the 17th century, is house to Caravaggio’s Fruit Basket and Leonardo’s Atlantic Codex.

*depending on rehearsals  and theatre activities.

Contemporary Art

If you prefer contemporary, enjoy a visit to beautiful Museo del 900, the latest public museum in town, born in year  2010 to host the modern collections of Milan and Lombardy. And eventually, if you are not afraid to push yourself further, don’t miss Pirelli Hangar Bicocca, established in 2004 and devoted to contemporary.

Already been everywhere? Here’s a little intriguing one: Casa Museo Mangini Bonomi at via dell’Ambrosiana 20.

 

Choose your Iconic Museum private tour

Would you like to include one of this museums to your tour, or dedicate one exclusively to it… just tell us time and day and we will arrange every detail and take care of the booking.

Acànto tours are available in Italian, English, Russian, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and other languages upon request.

Museums in Milan

Milan skyscrapers tour

Milan’s most exciting architectural makeover

Milan skyscrapers appear to the ultimate trend in the city, and since the Unicredit Tower, centrepiece of Porta Nuova district, flags its stainless steel spire to rival that of the Duomo, Milan has become a real point of attraction to those who love contemporary architecture.

Milan skyscrapers and more

Dramatic new developments are changing the skyline of the city, not only at Porta Nuova, which is, by the way, even expanding its glamour thanks to the new-born (December 2016) Feltrinelli Foundation building, the latest creation in the area from Herzog&deMeuron.
The former Milanese trade fair area as well is all new, thanks to a trio of international stars –Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind and Arata Isozaki. Each of them the creator of  an exciting business tower (2 of which already completed and towering the city view)  and of the surrounding residential complex at City Life, they gave a real new start, and a daring one,  to a central yet once scarcely exploited, area of Milan.
Starting from the Nineties, Universities are also contributing to this general makeover with their new sites, like that of  IULM, with its ultra-modern campus, and even more, Università Bocconi, who’s latest extension designed by Irish Grafton architects, won the World Building of the Year Award in 2008.

The new off the beaten path

If you really are a fan of contemporary, extend your tour to the Bicocca district and Portello district. Also, as it is in the nature of Milan to hide its gems, just wonder around the city centre, you’ll find some real beauties. Our suggestion? Have a look at Via Gorani, next to San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, where a Medieval tower overlooks the remains of the Roman Imperial Palace on the one side, and is flanked by the newest and most elegant residential buildings on the other.

Make your Milan skyscrapers private tour

Let us help you design your brand-new Milan experience. Just tell us time and day and we will make sure that you won’t miss a view of the Milanese high-rises.

Acànto tours are available in Italian, English, Russian, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and other languages upon request.

Milan skyscrapers tour

Milan fashion capital

The ‘quadrilatero della moda’

Yes, it’s true: traveling is the best way to spend money. But not having any intention to buy clothes in the ‘city of fashion’ is not an excuse to miss a walk through its fascinating fashion district!
Just a small area on the map, it gathers the highest concentration of luxury, style and elegance. Via Montenapoleone, via della Spiga, via S. Andrea and via Manzoni, that’s  the heart of Milan Fashion Capital.

Milan fashion capital… and more

If you really need some more serious reasons to go have a look, well, just think of how much history hides behind the sparkles in the windows. It was in the rooms of its elegant buildings that intellectuals, bourgeois and nobles, conspired together to unify Italy during the nineteenth century independence war. And more than this… the ruins of the ancient Roman city lie underneath the sophisticated boutiques as the layout of today’s via Montenapoleone is that of the roman walls during the III Century. The bricks and stones of the walls are still visible in some of the basements of the most charming boutiques.

Shopping and Museums

And if it takes a museum to make you happy… housed in a beautiful 18th century residence along via S. Andrea, Palazzo Morando-Museo di Milano  is a fascinating ‘picture book’ offering a journey through the city of the past. Located at the heart of the fashion district it includes a collection of costumes and accessories from the 18th to the 20th century, displayed in its elegant rooms along with the original decorations and furnishings.
What else?

Make your Milan fashion capital private tour

To find out more and book your tour, just write to us an e-mail at emanuela@acantomilano.it or give us a call at +39.339.7807759

Acànto tours are available in Italian, English, Russian, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and other languages upon request.

Milan fashion capital

Art Nouveau Milan tour

Art Nouveau Milan, a Fin de siècle journey

You wish to go off the beaten paths? Well, here it is, find our advices for an itinerary especially crafted for Art Nouveau maniacs like us!

Art Nouveau in Milan

Little is generally mentioned about Art Nouveau architecture in Milan, on the contrary, surprising buildings happen to confirm its presence in the city. Starting from the area of Porta Venezia, an intriguing itinerary twists and turns throughout the city centre intersecting the most amazing, elegant and sometimes bizarre architectures, including urban villas, apartment buildings, former department stores, and even an Art Nouveau church. Iron, ceramic cladding, mosaics, stained glasses and a taste for nostalgic historicist elements define the Milanese Art Nouveau, that we call ‘Liberty’.

Have you ever heard about the ‘Silence district’?

Definitely less popular then the Fashion district, but only a stone’s throw away from it, the best of Art Nouveau lies in a quiet, elegant neighborhood somebody likes to call ‘Silence district’. It is here that we will guide you discovering the overwhelming Casa Berri Meregalli, elegant Casa Tensi, extravagant Casa Campanini… and we won’t forget to let you have a look at the flamingos (real ones!) wandering beyond the gates of Villa Invernizzi.

A touch of Déco…

The ‘Silence district’ not only gathers most of  the best Art Nouveau architecture in Milan, but also the elegant Villa Necchi Campiglio, an untouched urban villa from the Thirties. Designed for a wealthy Milanese family by architect Piero Portaluppi, this Villa and its garden, the first ever in Milan to have a swimming pool, is available for visits and ideal to conclude the tour.  Just write us to book your tour and personalise it as you want.

Make your Art Nouveau private tour

Discovering Milanese Art Nouveau can be a pleasant outdoor walk but, as the beauty of Milan is often hidden behind doors and gateways, we will arrange the access to some interiors of the delightful Art Nouveau homes that make part of it.

To find out more and book your tour, just write to us an e-mail at emanuela@acantomilano.it or give us a call at +39.339.7807759

Acànto tours are available in Italian, English, Russian, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and other languages upon request.

Art Nouveau Milan tour

Milan private tours

Milan private tours…make your stay special!

If you have checked our Milan Walking Tours page you should be aware of the vast offer of tours we are able to provide. Yet, it doesn’t mean they match exactly with your needs or schedule. In this case, you are probably looking for an Acànto Milan private tour, allowing you the total flexibility to create your tour program, accordingly to your individual expectation, timeframe and budget.

Milan local guides for your perfect tour

Acànto can provide guided tours in all languages and ensure the right guide for each itinerary. Our guides are not just good at foreign languages, they also all have degrees in art, architecture or archaeology and are certified tour guides for Milan and province. Some are exceptionally good with children, and all of them like to share their expertise and enthusiasm and are eager to give you a view beyond the obvious delights to the real Milan only a local knows.
Acànto tours are informative and enjoyable, funny and relaxed… but not simplistic.
Taking a walk with Acànto guides is the way to fall in love with our city.

How to book your Milan private tour

Booking your Milan private tour is simple, and you can be involved in the planning as much as you want. If you know what you want, just send us an email and we will do our utmost to maximise your Milanese experience and satisfy your every expectation.
If you need some inspiration, go to our Milan Private tours page and check our proposal.
If you are especially interested in visiting Leonardo’s Last Supper, have a look at our Last Supper tour page.
And if you wish to find out some more sights and activities then continue reading below…

Things to see in Milano …get inspired!

Here below is a list of suggestions that will help you put the icing on the cake of your tailor-made visit.

Milan private tours

Cinque Terre day trip

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre day trip is no doubt a high-up in the to-do list while in Milan for some days. Connected by pedestrian paths, boats or local train, but not by cars, this five fishing villages that go under the name of Cinque Terre are a UNESCO World heritage site since 1997. Four of them, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia and Vernazza are literally nestled in the steep cliffs overlooking the sea from above, while Monterosso al Mare, fifth and westernmost of the villages, is the bigger one and a natural gulf by the seaside.

How to get to Cinque Terre

There is no doubt, Cinque Terre is best reached by train, but we can provide a car, and then, once in Liguria, make sure you hop on a local train. Each of the five villages has its own small train station, and trains are frequent.

Enjoy the view on a boat trip

After a car ride and the hop-on/hop-off train ride, a boat trip is the one thing we recommend. It is arguably the best way to enjoy the coloured fisherman houses hanging on the terraced cliffs and the vineyards above.

Our suggestion… a stop at Portovenere

Also part of the UNESCO heritage, Portovenere is often called ‘the sixth of the Cinque Terre’ . What should we say… it’s mesmerizing! At least just to stroll along the cosy harbour and walk to the promontory topped by the church of San Pietro…

Book your Cinque Terre day trip

We are aware that Cinque Terre are so beautiful one would wish to spend at list 2 days there. Not having time to do so is non a good reason to give up! Depending on the time of the year and on your schedule, we will arrange your ideal journey to Cinque Terre, making sure you will enjoy every moment and make the most of your time.

Just write us at emanuela@acantomilano.it and let us provide you with the best guide to accompany you, a car if you wish and all other details.

Cinque Terre day trip

Leonardo’s footsteps walking tour

A 1 up to 3 hours Renaissance focused tour

From the Sforza Castle to the Renaissance treasures of Ambrosiana Art Gallery and Brera Art Gallery, and in the  footsteps of Leonardo with an expert art historian to guide you.

Leonardo at the Sforza Castle

In the shifting mosaic of states that composed the Italian peninsula during the Renaissance age, Milan was among the largest and most wealthy cities. Under the rule of the Sforza house, it was made modern and beautiful, starting with the construction of a new castle, built on the remains of the former Visconti’s fortress. It is here that later duke Ludovico il Moro kept Leonardo busy painting and inventing elaborate sets for public ceremonies as well as the unusual yet mysterious mulberry-tree ceiling at the Sala delle Asse.

Leonardo’s Last Supper and Santa Maria delle Grazie

A complete Renaissance tour should include the access to Leonardo’s masterpiece. Have a look at our Last Supper tour to book it.

Also, according to the opening times, a visit to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, adjacent to the refectory painted by Leonardo and part of the same Dominican convent, is a must-see.

More from Leonardo – Ambrosiana Art Gallery

Leonardo’s Last Supper surely is the most famous and admired work from the great master, but Milan was lucky enough to benefit from his presence and work for more than 20 years… Other precious testimonies of his work are to be found at the Ambrosiana Art Gallery. In the quiet rooms of this extraordinary museum, curiously overlooked by mass tourism, Leonardo’s Portrait of a musician is host, together with the pages of its Codex Atlanticus, containing drawings on scientific and technical subjects.

As well as Leonardo’s work, Ambrosiana Art Gallery is also house to Caravaggio’s Fruit Basket, Titian’s Adoration of the Magi, Botticelli’s Madonna and Child, and the preparatory cartoon for The school of Athens by Raffaello. A real immersion into Renaissance.

Apart from Leonardo – Brera Art Gallery

Beside Leonardo’s work, when it comes to Renaissance, Milan has a lot to offer. Brera Art Gallery is simply one of the  most outstanding art galleries in the world, and it will open the views onto the amazing Renaissance works of Piero della Francesca, Bellini, Mantegna, Raffaello and Caravaggio, just to quote a few, filling the Renaissance panorama with the best artworks in the city.

Personalise your Leonardo’s footsteps walking tour

Just write to us an e-mail at emanuela@acantomilano.it or give us a call at +39.339.7807759, we will be happy to suggest you more Milanese Renaissance sights and create your tailor-made tour.

Acànto tours are available in Italian, English, Russian, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and others languages upon request.

Leonardo’s footsteps walking tour

Middle Ages Milan walking tour

A taste of milanese history in 1 up to 3 hours

Milan is the most cosmopolitan and creative city in Italy, yet, the past is all around you if you know where to look. Acanto’s Middle Ages Milan walking tour concentrates on the gems of the Medieval city, stating with the church of Saint Ambrose, the Market Place and the Duomo Cathedral.

Saint Ambrose church and the golden altar

Ambrose is the patron saint in Milan, and also was its bishop during the 4th century, as well as the builder of 4 churches surrounding the city. Among them, the Basilica Martyrum, later renamed in his honour, Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio. Since its early christian origins the church has been restored and transformed several times and it is now considered the model for all lombard Romanesque churches, overflowing with medieval stone reliefs and house to the amazing golden altar, a unique work of art, dating back to the 9th century.

The Medieval Market Place: Piazza dei  Mercanti

On the way to the city centre, the brick made Palazzo della Ragione was the beating heart of medieval town, and its administrative headquarter since year 1233. Built at the centre of  Piazza dei Mercanti, it gives the area an unusual shape, still recalling the original layout: the square was once accessible only through 6 entrance gates open along the perimeter of the surrounding buildings.

Duomo Cathedral

Only few more steps and the Duomo, the largest and most impressive gothic cathedral in the world will finally reveal itself. Yes, its construction started in 1386, making it a true medieval monument, but then… well, it’s a long story!

Personalise your  Middle Ages Milan walking tour

Would you like to see more? This tour could also include the roof climb of the cathedral.
To find out more and book your tour, just write to us an e-mail at emanuela@acantomilano.it or give us a call at +39.339.7807759

Acànto tours are available in Italian, English, Russian, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and others languages upon request.

Middle Ages Milan walking tour

Historical Milan walking tour

A search for the roots of Milan in 1 up to 3 hours

Founded by the Celtic Insubres around 600BC, Milan became Roman in 222BC and was made capital of the Western Roman Empire in year 286, under the rule of emperor Diocletian. Our Historical Milan Walking Tour will guide you through centuries of glorious Roman history hidden beneath the modern city, and through its development into a key centre of Christianity.

San Lorenzo and the Roman Columns

Ideal start are the 16 Roman columns in a row, displayed in front of the Church of San Lorenzo: a real landmark of the Roman Milan, dating from the 3rd century. The church itself is a treasure trove, starting with the enormous blocks taken from earlier roman sites that make its foundation, visible beneath the octagonal Chapel of Saint Aquilino, and the chapel itself, with its precious Paleochristian golden mosaics.

The remains of the Imperial Palace

A walk through the scenic hidden streets and back roads of the old city will lead to the remains of the Imperial Palace, found during excavations of a WWII bomb site. You’ll be amazed to discover how Milan is able to combine the old and the new in this beautiful corner, where Roman ruins lie beside a Medieval tower, surrounded by the newest luxury condos…

Roman secrets at San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore

More about the Roman legacy in Milan is to be revealed… Next to the 3rd century Roman walls and still preserving a square tower of the lost Roman Hippodrome, the former convent of San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore will conclude the tour and bring you back to modern times. Renovated during the Renaissance, behind its unfinished, and honestly unactractive façade, it hides the most surprising cycle of frescoes to be found in the city, from Leonardo’s most talented disciple: Bernardino Luini. A real must-see!

Personalise your Historical Milan walking tour

This tour could also include the entrance to the Last Supper, according to tickets availability or the visit to the Archaeological Museum.
To find out more and book your tour, just write to us an e-mail at emanuela@acantomilano.it or give us a call at +39.339.7807759

Acanto tours are available in Italian, English, Russian, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and others languages upon request.

Historical Milan walking tour

Brand-new Milan architectural tour

Discover contemporary Milan in 1 up to 3 hours

You think you really know everything about Milan? Acànto Brand-new Milan architectural tour will reveal you that there’s always something more to surprise you in the ever-changing city. A futuristic skyline is to be found in the heart of Milan. Grown quickly and with the most advanced technological criteria, the Porta Nuova district boasts vertical architecture, an ecological heart and an inclination to luxury that’s almost shameless.

Vertical Forest and more

Winner of the International High-rise Award in 2104 and “2015 Best Tall Building Worldwide”,  the Vertical Forest (Bosco Verticale) apartment towers are the living heart of Porta Nuova district. ‘Living’ in the true sense of the term, as its façades, covered with trees, are constantly evolving, changing colours with the seasons and offering an ever-changing view. But Vertical Forest is not alone in renovating the area, on the contrary: luxury high-rises are all around, intertwined by pedestrian garden streets and bridges, surrounding a large and verdant botanical garden… what more to ask?

Milan capital of fashion and design …and architecture

Proof that Italy’s undisputed capital of fashion and design is also a true laboratory of contemporary architecture, this brand-new area is ideal to experience all at a glance. It is also here that some iconic concept stores are located, such as Eataly flagship store, or 10 Corso Como, the internationally recognized hub of style and culture founded in 1990 by long time fashion editor and gallerist Carla Sozzani.

Make your tour as milanese as it can be

Why not planning your tour of ‘tomorrow’s Milan’ at late afternoon and round off your evening with a Milanese ‘aperitivo’?
Or, if you wish to explore a little deeper this design driven city, extend your tour to include a visit to the Triennale Design Museum.

To find out more and book your tour, just write to us an e-mail at emnauela@acantomilano.it or give us a call at +39.339.7807759

Acànto tours are available in Italian, English, Russian, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and others languages upon request.

Brand-new Milan architectural tour

Classic Milan walking tour

A  3 hours welcome tour to fall in love with Milan!

Sforza Castle, Duomo CathedralGalleria Vittorio Emanuele IIScala Opera House: this is what you just can’t miss, those places that immediately evoke Milan, its greatness, its charm. Acànto’s Classic Milan walking tour is the perfect start to get in touch with the city. Choose it on your first day in town, or if your time is limited and you wish to make the most of it!

Sforza Castle

It will be a journey through history and art, starting with the Sforza Castle. Imposing and severe, it still reflects both the need for protection as well as the beauty of Renaissance. It is here that Leonardo, court artist, used to organize his elaborate and legendary court festivals.
Sited at the heart of the city as the house of the Sforzas, it has been neglected for a long time, while Milan was under foreign rule.  After a wide renovation, it is now a large museum. Among many fascinating works of art,  at least the presence of Michelangelo’s latest work, the Rondanini Pietà, confirms it at the top of the check list.

Duomo Cathedral

The Duomo Cathedral shows its impressive facade opening onto the large Duomo square. Enormous as it is, yet it is not the most beautiful view… even more breathtaking are the windows of its apse. We will make sure you don’t miss a detail! And more than this, access to the Duomo with a reservation and a licensed guide will avoid you any waiting in line (exception made for a quick security check).
Last, but not least, Duomo cathedral has an amazing roof top terrace! You might wish to climb it -or perhaps …reach it by elevator- and enjoy the most electrifying view of the city.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and Scala Opera House

The Galleria, dedicated to Vittorio Emanuele II, first king of a finally unified Country, was created in 1867 to celebrate this political exciting new start… independence, after so long! Since then, it also deserves the nickname ‘Milan salon’ for always being elegant and  charming. Beside it, the Teatro alla Scala, carefully hides its sophisticated beauty behind a severe facade, truly reflecting the soul of a city to be discovered.
Here lies the heart of Milan.

Personalise your  Classic Milan walking tour

This tour could also include the entrance to the Last Supper, or to a museum you especially wish to visit.
To find out more and book your tour, just write to us an e-mail at emanuela@acantomilano.it or give us a call at +39.339.7807759

Acànto tours are available in Italian, English, Russian, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and other languages upon request.

Classic Milan walking tour

Along the canals walking tour

Take a walk in the Navigli canal district in 1 up to 3 hours

A walk along the Navigli –Milan canal district-, from S. Eustorgio church to the enchanting vicolo Lavandai will be a lovely way to discover a different Milan.

Navigli canal district

The lack of a proper river didn’t stop Milan from creating some herself and becoming a real ‘city of waters’! Named ‘navigli’ and connecting the city with rivers and lakes in the Lombard region, the canals were set up from the middle ages. Not much remains nowadays of Milan canal district. What is left of this brilliant water net lost in time, is still visible in the charming Navigli district, where Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese intersect the former Darsena harbour.

Milanese tradition along the waterways

Many are the stories that tie the Canals to the city. The one the Milanese love to tell is that of the marble extracted from Candoglia’s quarries that reached the cathedral’s construction site via water, to be then used to build the church.
Originally created to transport goods from the nearby lakes and rivers, they also witnessed official boat parades every time  the Sforza court moved to their summer residences as well as common workers until the 20th Century. Now that navigation is no longer the fastest way, you can nonetheless enjoy a quiet sightseeing boat trip, but beware, you might find no water: by law, the canals are drained 2 times a year.

Milan canal district sightseeing and aperitivo!

Still reminding of the working-class neighbourhood they used to be during the 19th and early 20th century, and preserving some idyllic corner like historic Vicolo Lavandai, Navigli are now a lively and intriguing area, with plenty of bars and restaurants, ideal for a late afternoon walk to be concluded with an ‘aperitivo’.

Personalise your Along the canals walking tour

Book your Navigli experience, just tell us time and day and we will make sure that you won’t miss a detail of this charming area.

Acànto tours are available in Italian, English, Russian, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and other languages upon request.

Along the canals walking tour

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Experience Milano with an expert art historian.
We are a small company operating in Milan since a good ten years, and we are used to working with the Milanese. Check our Italian site to find more about the care we take in designing our itineraries and how diversified our offer is… that’s the exact same thing we would like to offer to you on the occasion of your Milanese stay.
We are not simply enthusiastic locals, but also expert art historians and licensed tour guides and we will be happy to make you fall in love with Milan as we are.

ACÀNTO comes from a dream: traveling in more than one direction, simultaneously… That’s our invitation!

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