A Day with Dukes and Duchesses

Looking for a cool way to spend the day this summer without having to go all over Milan? Take a trip to the Sforza Castle, one of Milan’s most popular and prized monuments, located in the center of Milan. It offers a range of activities that will keep you entertained all day including museums, art galleries and concerts in the evening. Inside several courtyards you will find a new bar and plenty of space to eat and drink while taking in the beauty of the castle and giving children rook to run around and play.

Notturni ItalianiThe Courtyart inside the Duke Palace is ready for concerts

While you are loafing around try to imagine how could have been your life as a guest of the duke and the duchesse, and perhaps meet Leonardo working there …

Sforza was originally designed as a defensive castle in the 14th century, until Francesco Sforza, the duke of Milan at the time, transformed it into a spectacular palace in which he and his family lived in the 15th century. At the same time, Leonardo da Vinci actually lived and worked in the castle taking care of the cultural arts within the mansion along with creating blueprints for different weaponry such as a “Rapid-Fire Crossbow”. This bow was an entirely new invention in his time that could have changed battlefield strategy and the course of history had it ever been made before. The perfectly functioning replica of it, has been recently created by Leonardo3 and showcased at the castle, based on folios 143, 153, and 155 from the Codex Atlanticus. It fires with great precision and accuracy and also has a rapid-load mechanism, which modern crossbows don’t even have.

Entering from the Tower of Filarete in Piazza Cairoli, you will be lead to the vast Courtyard of Arms. There you will also find an older building that was added during Spanish rule and used as a hospital. The interior is adorned with garlands and cartouches that you can still see today. Inside the Spanish Hospital, is Michelangelo Buonarroti’s last sculpture, the Pietà Rondanini, which was left unfinished. Read more in our May article https://www.hellomilano.it/hm/enduring-legacy/.

On the ground floor of the northeast tower, you can find the Sala delle Asse. This is the room that da Vinci was instructed to decorate in 1498. After five centuries, you can still see his painting of plants and fruits intertwining on the ceiling. Read more in our November 2013 article https://www.hellomilano.it/hm/cleaning-up-leonardos-fancy-room/. It is part of the Museum of Ancient Art (Room XIII), which is located in the rooms of the ducal apartments, the home of Galeazzo Maria Sforza and Bona di Savoia in 1468. Each room has its own decorations by various artists.

In the four centuries following, the Castle was used as a military complex until architect, Luca Beltrami, extensively remodeled it in the 19th century into the headquarters for Milan’s Civic Museums that it is today.

Since the restoration of the castle, there have been nine museums installed inside the walls. In those you can find eloquently decorated furnishings along with a mix of ancient and modern art, including work by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

Even more art is held in the Sforza Castle Pinacoteca. This art gallery displays more than 230 pieces of art from numerous artists including, the Trivulzio Madonna by Andrea Mantegna. The first part of the museum holds religious paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries, while the second part holds art from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. These are just a few of the museums available.

If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, you can attend many live music concerts. You can find the dates and prices for these performances in the What’s On section.

If you’re looking to get out of the museums for a while, from the second door towards Piazza del Cannone, the Sempione Park, located directly north of the castle through, offers numerous activities for visitors. It was created in the late 19th century to imitate a romantic garden with light man-made hills, rivers, groups of trees and paths wide enough for a carriage. Today the enormous park offers multiple cultural activities such as the famous Triennale Design Museum with a particular Giorgio De Chirico fountain in its garden, Theaters, various monuments and libraries. There are also other attractions including trails to walk around on, playgrounds for children, outdoor concerts during the summer and more. It’s a great place to take a relaxing walk outside and escape the bustling city.

The castle can easily be accessed from the Cairoli Castello stop on the M1. It is open Monday-Sunday from 7:00-22:00 admission free and until 22:30 on Thursdays. The museums are open Tuesday-Sunday, from 9:00-19:30 and until 22:30 on Thursdays. Entrances for the museums close a half hour before the museum so be sure to get there on time if you’re looking to go later in the day. Admission for the museums are €3/5. For more information on the events happening at Sempione Park and Sforza Castle, you can look at www.milanocastello.it.

Michaela Jones

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