Milan is the city of large closed doors and stunningly gorgeous interiors, a fiting both literal and figurative description, and Milan’s four house museums best exemplify this. I adore these ridiculously gorgeous former homes to high society, and I always, always recommend Museo Poldi Pezzoli to anyone who visits Milan. It’s located in the heart of the historic center on Via Manzoni, just a few minutes on foot from the fabled Teatro alla Scala, or more familiarly, La Scala (the iconic opera house).
Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli acquired his private collection in the nineteenth century, which encompasses beautiful Northern Italian artwork with a strong showing of local Lombard painters (which tickles me pink because I love any form of Lombardia love), with some Raphael and Botticelli thrown in for good measure. There are wonders from Bernadino Luini, a student of Leonardo da Vinci who created the majestic frescoes inside San Maurizio al Monastereo Maggiore.
The museum opened in 1881, two years after Pezzoli’s death. When you glimpse the grand entry staircase on your right, you’ll want to move right in and as you walk up it to start your tour, you’ll find yourself looking forward to your ascent once you’re ready to leave, if for any reason to channel your inner Norma Desmond. Not gonna deny it, walking down those stairs is pretty darn fabulous.
Anyway, the museum was heavily bombed during World War II, but the valuables had been safely stored so the museum was reconstructed and re-opened in the 1950s. Even though the walls and surroundings have a “newer” feel, it’s not hard to imagine the glory days and what happened inside its former owner’s walls. See jewelry and gold from antiquity to the nineteenth century, ceramics, Venetian mirrors, opulent marriage chests, Ligurian cabinets, a Murano-glass dedicated room, tapestries, a clock room displaying time pieces from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries…it’s just like being inside an urban fairy tale palace.
Viva Lombardia! I’m obsessed with the region that houses my adopted city so I love absorbing as much as I can about it. I know I’m not an art connoisseur, but it seems that much of this region’s art is often overshadowed by the work of painters from other regions, so I really enjoyed seeing what the local masters brought to the table during the Renaissance and other major eras. Most of the local Lombard works are found in a specially dedicated room that was Pezzoli’s library.
Take care not to miss the Allegory of Vanity from 16th century Lombard painter and architect
Giulio Campi, which tells a little tale of human nature through clever symbols and gestures.
Museo Poldi Pezzoli
Via Manzoni, 12
Wednesday – Monday: 10am – 6pm