“To understand Milan you have to dive into it. Dive into it, don’t look at it as a work of art“. So said Guido Piovene, inviting everyone to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Lombard capital, which over the centuries has bewitched the greatest artists, philosophers and travelers from all over the world. And he will soon return to do so through his 7 unique, magical and unrepeatable wonders.
The 7 WONDERS that make Milan UNIQUE in the world
#1 The Duomo
The most spectacular Gothic cathedral in the world, monumental in its immense beauty. It seems like a fairy tale, to the point that the Master of the fairy tale Hans Christian Andersen talked about it like this: “Everywhere I looked, from every angle, next to every spire the building is scattered with, marble figures appeared … The wonderful mystical world here is manifested! Yes, this is a church of God!”.
And Stendhal, famous for the syndrome that makes those who are overwhelmed by the beauty of art swoon: “This church, illuminated by a beautiful moon, offers a spectacle of extraordinary beauty that is unique in the world. Architecture has never offered me such sensations“.
#2 Leonardo’s Last Supper
From Bunuel in his film “Viridiana” to an episode of the Simpsons in 2005, from Peter Greenaway who signed a live performance in 2008, to Dario Fo who dedicated a show to him, this fresco by Leonardo da Vinci is one of the works of most cited and imitated art in the world. Amazing for the dynamism of his characters and evocative for the mysteries that are hidden there, he is at the center of a thriller by Dan Brown and he even suggested to the musicologist Pala the search for a score hidden inside, about which he wrote in the book ” The hidden music “. And how can we forget the other cinematic tributes? Pier Paolo Pasolini in Mamma Roma in 1962, Robert Altman in M.A.S.H. in 1970, Norman Jewison in Jesus Christ Superstar in 1973, and Ciprì and Maresco in Totò who lived twice in 1998 just to name the most famous.
When is the next one?
#3 The Brera Art Gallery
“It is an everlasting reason for complacency for the Milanese not only for the art treasures it contains, but for the examples of disinterest and intelligent activity linked to the history of its formation: its name rings today as one of the major sanctuaries of art in the world“. This is how the greatest art historian of the nineteenth century, Francesco Malaguzzi Valeri, expresses himself on one of the few Italian museums to host great masterpieces from different schools.
It was Napoleon who wanted Brera as a representative place for all Italian art from every era and every region, welcoming works taken from churches and convents from an Enlightenment and “revolutionary” perspective, shared with the Louvre in Paris, to make available to the public paintings hitherto difficult to access.
#4 The Rondanini Pietà at the Sforza Castle
The magic of the “unfinished” that leaves the imagination to see beyond, to feel the full vibration of the soul that is identified in the image that struggles with matter to define itself. “We must ask Michelangelo to involve us in the unstoppable movement of the body of the dead Christ inside the body of the Mother, as he has ingeniously merged them into the sublime unfinished Rondanini Pietà” says the great theologian Luigi Serenthà, bewitched by the beauty of the masterpiece purchased by the Municipality of Milan after the Second World War. The then mayor Antonio Greppi believed very much in the power of art to make Milan attractive to the world and strongly wanted this work by Michelangelo as a symbol of the public collections of the renovated Sforza Castle, today one of the unmissable places of tourism in Milan.
#5 The Monumental Cemetery
“So forget the salons with talents and the whores, come in the shade of the cypresses give love, in the afternoon to those who suspend their life between the urns friends of the monumental, reality and unreal, come and get an idea” the Baustelle sing in their song “Monumentale”. The construction of the most famous cemetery in Milan began in 1866 by the architect Carlo Maciachini. In addition to the tomb of Alessandro Manzoni and the monument dedicated to Giuseppe Verdi, in the famous Famedio there are tombstones commemorating Arrigo Boito, Giuseppe Mazzini, Ugo Foscolo, Carlo Cattaneo, Francesco Hayez, Salvatore Quasimodo, up to Dario Fo and Franca Rame.
#6 The Navigli
The walk of love, among narrow alleys, colorful houses, bridges and romance. Their reopening is the dream of Milan the city of water, made up of mirages and more concrete projects. “Again, and for years, dear, we have been stopped by the changing of the narrow trees within the Navigli’s ring. But it is always our day and always that sun that goes away with the thread of its affectionate ray” writes Salvatore Quasimodo in his poem“ Almost a madrigal”. And he concludes: “Here on the embankment of the canal, our feet swing, like children, we look at the water, the first branches inside its dark green color. And the man who silently approaches does not hide a knife in his hands, but a geranium flower“.
#7 La Scala
“La Scala Theatre is the living room of the city…. ‘we’ll see you at La Scala’ they say to each other for all sorts of business …” Stendhal wrote in 1817, admired by the sumptuous beauty of the boxes, the foyer, the neoclassical columns of the entrance hall of the architectural work of the Piermarini, completed in 1778 and since then a Temple of Opera in the world. Here some of the most important works in the history of melodrama debuted, here the most sensational high notes of Maria Callas and Luciano Pavarotti were heard, here Arturo Toscanini conducted the memorable concert on April 26, 1946 with which Milan greeted the rebirth after the bombings of the Second World War, which had also largely destroyed the theater, rebuilt in record time to celebrate culture as the pulsating soul of Milan.
#7+1 Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio
Bishop of Milan in Italy and mentor of St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church and bishop of Hippo, Ambrose is the patron saint of Milan, who lived between 340 and 397, and his name means “immortal”, the best possible wish for the city. He even composed songs and taught them to people, who sang them along with him.
The church that bears his name was commissioned by him and built while it still was.
One of the oldest and most fascinating buildings in Milan, where you can see the layering of styles, from early Christian to neoclassical. Its international fame comes from the fact that the first act of “I Lombardi alla prima crusade” by Giuseppe Verdi is set here, staged at the Teatro alla Scala on 11 February 1843 and then all over the world. In fact, in 1929, the basilica was a source of inspiration for the construction of the Royce Hall of the University of California at Los Angeles, whose facade recalls that of the basilica of Sant’Ambrogio.
(Original article by Alberto Oliva)