MILAN — Corso Magenta

This area is centred around the Corso Magenta which has existed on this site since Roman times. The district surrounding this street dates from the 19th century. This area has lots of good shops as well as a museum and some churches including the Santa Maria delle Grazie with its famous painting.

The sights found here are:
Pasticceria Marchesi
Monastero Maggiore o San Mauizio
Archaeological Museum
Palazzo Litta
Santa Maria delle Grazie
Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci
San Vittore al Corpo
Parco Sempione

Pasticceria Marchesi
This is an old-fashioned cafe and chocolatier which hasn’t changed in appearance since it was built in 1824. You will love the coffee and homemade desserts and pastries. The cafe is found at 11 Via Santa Maria alla Porta and it is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 7.30am until 8pm.

Monastero Maggiore o San Mauizio

Monastero Maggiore o San Mauizio
Construction on this church began in 1503 and was finished fifteen years later. It was divided into two parts — one for the congregation and one for the nuns and the nuns were forbidden to cross the division until 1794. The highlight of the interior is the 16th century cycle of frescoes which cover the walls. The dividing wall has frescoes by Bernardino Luini who also decorated the Chapel of St Catherine of Alexandria found on the right hand side of the church. The chapels on the congregation side have frescoes by Bernardino Luini’s son, Aurelio Luini. The nun’ side has an organ dating from 1554.

Palazzo Litta

Palazzo Litta
This Baroque building is found opposite the Monastero Maggiore o San Mauizio and dates from the Spanish rule of Milan during the years 1642 to 1648. It was built for Count Bartolomeo Arese who became President of the Senate of Milan in 1660. The palace became an important political centre and many grand parties and receptions were held here for Royalty and others. A lot the building that is here today is the original but there have been some additions over time including the imposing staircase and the Rococo facade. The family oratory was turned into a private theatre for the use of the family and their guests. It is the oldest theatre in Milan and is still used today as the Teatro Litta di Milano.

Archaeological Museum
The first courtyard that you come to in this museum was once the entrance to the Monastero Maggiore. As you enter the museum and go past the reception you will see a detailed model of Milan as the Roman settlement of Mediolanum. A lot of the ground floor is dedicated to artefacts from this settlement including the unique Coppa Trivulzio Diatreta which is a cup created from a single piece of glass, dating from the late 4th century. Another magnificent piece is the stone Zeus head from the 1st or 2nd century. The prehistoric section is another interesting one that is about the Milan area from the Neolithic period to Roman times. Downstairs you will find parts of the Roman city walls from the 3rd century and an area containing a small selection of Greek artefacts. The gardens at the back contain a polygonal tower which was originally part of Milan’s defence system and later became a chapel for the monastery. The round interior is decorated with 13th century frescoes.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.poliarcheo.it

Santa Maria delle Grazie

Santa Maria delle Grazie
This church dating from 1490 is built on the site of a former chapel. Included with the church is a Dominican convent dating from 1469. The church is a mixture of Gothic and Romanesque styles and of note is the dome decorated with medallions of Saints and coats of arms. The interior of the church has some magnificent examples of late Gothic architecture in the central nave and aisles with their wonderful decorations. Make sure you look at the chapels along the aisles as many of them are decorated with frescoes. On the left side of the church is a small cloister called Chlostrino delle Rane where you can get a good view of the dome. The church is mainly famous for the fact that Leonardo da Vinci painted the Last Supper on the walls of the refectory between 1495 and 1497 and because of this the church and convent have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over time the painting has deteriorated and it has undergone several restorations. During WW2 bombs hit the church and much of the refectory was destroyed but some of the walls including the famous one survived due to the fact it had been sandbagged for protection.


Traveller's Tip

Only 25 people are allowed to visit the refectory and its painting of the Last Supper at the one time and because of this it is advisable to book as far ahead as possible as these tickets are often booked out months ahead especially in the summer months.
For information about booking the ticket visit the following website at: http://www.vivaticket.it/evento.php?id_evento=298097&op=cenacoloVinciano
  • If you are visiting Milan and haven’t bought tickets for the Last Supper there is a website where you can only buy tickets 4 days in advance but you will have to pay for the ‘last minute’ privilege. See the website at:
    http://www.lastsuppertickets.com

    Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci
    The highlights of this museum which is housed in a former Benedictine monastery are the working scale models of Leonardo da Vinci’s submarines, airplanes, and other engineering feats. Each exhibit includes a reproduction of his drawings and a model of his creations. The museum also has other exhibits of planes, trains, carriages, sewing machines, typewriters and optical devices amongst others. The museum contains one of the world’s leading mechanical and scientific collections.
    For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.museoscienza.org/english

    San Vittore al Corpo

    San Vittore al Corpo
    The church and former monastery of San Vittore al Corpo is an early Christian basilica and is one of the oldest buildings in Milan dating from around the 4th century. The church was connected to the octagonal mausoleum of Emperor Valentinian II who died in 392 and parts of this ancient structure are now beneath the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci. In the 8th century the church was expanded to house the relics of the Saints — Vittore and Satyr. The complex was taken over in 1010 by Benedictine monks who built a monastery. It was renovated again in the 16th century and the interior of the church that you see today dates from that time including some wonderful works of art by some of the artists of the day.

    Parco Sempione

    Parco Sempione
    This park used to be a training ground for the armed forces but was turned into a public park in 1893. It is named after the starting point to the Simplon Pass where a railway tunnel was opened in 1906. There are several interesting buildings and monuments in the park. One of these buildings is the elegant Palazzo dell’Arte which is found behind the Castello Sforzesco. This palazzo was built in the 1930s to host design exhibitions in what is known as the Triennale Design Museum which it still does today. Also in the park is the Torre Branca which is a 108.6 metre tall metal structure that was built in 1933 as part of the Triennale exhibition. You can visit the viewing platform via a 10 minute lift ride for a wonderful view. At the far end of the park is Arco della Pace which is a Neo-Classical arch built to celebrate Napoleon’s entry into Milan but the building of it wasn’t finished until 1838 long after Napoleon had abdicated as Emperor in 1814. The design of this arch is based on the Arch of Septimus Severus in Rome and has a large central passageway flanked by two smaller ones. It is clad in marble and is decorated with Corinthian columns, bas reliefs and sculptures. There are four large statues in front of the frieze which represent the rivers that flowed through the former kingdom of Lombardy-Veneto — Adige, Po, Ticino and Tagliamento. On top of the arch are sculptures. The one in the centre is the Chariot of Peace and the statues either side of this are the Victories on Horseback. The bas-reliefs on the side of the arch depict events in Italian history after Napoleon.
    For more information about the Triennale Design Museum visit the website at: http://www.triennale.org/Index.php?id=29&lang=EN_en
    For more information about Torre Branca visit the website at: http://www.branca.it/en/mondo/torre-branca.asp

    Traveller's Tip

    A great time to visit the viewing platform of the Torre Branca is in the evening when the view is just magical with all the twinkling lights.