Visit to Sforza Castle


Last week someone told me that, every first Sunday of the month, some Milan museums are free admission. So, let’s all join the underground train to Milan!

Our first choice was the Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco), home to a lot of little permanent and temporary exhibitions. A little background history, don’t you all love it?

sforza castle

The Castello Sforzesco was built between 1360 and 1392 by Galeazzo II and Gian Galeazzo Visconti as a fortress. In 1450 Francesco Sforza marries the last female Visconti descendant, Bianca Maria, and they become Lord and Lady of Milan. The whole castle is renovated to accomodate modern artillery. During the decades the castle is made more and more magnificent: Leonardo da Vinci himself frescoed a few rooms (now unfortunately under restoration) upon request of Ludovico il Moro, who is known for commissioning the Last Supper.
It was later under Spaniard and Austriac domain, and in 1796 Napoleon used it as an outpost. In 1861 it finally becomes Italian again.

Now, to the museums (I know this is the part you were waiting for!)

The castle

The castle itself is worth a shot.

Pietà Rondanini

Pietà Rondanini
Pietà Rondanini by Michelangelo

Yup, it’s Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini. Sorry for the low res photo, but I couldn’t use flash, and my old camera is what it is.
There’s a whole room with nothing in it except this sculpture, so you can enjoy it without distractions. Michelangelo was sculpting this just before he died, because he wanted a Pietà (Virgin Mary with dead Jesus) on his tomb. No luck, Mickey, sorry. It’s called Rondanini after the guy who bought it in 1744, Marquis Rondanini. I don’t think you need a comment on this one, and I don’t think Mickey would have liked a critic on an unfinished piece. From an uneducated amateurish brat, nonetheless.

The Ancient Art Museum

Ancient Art Museum
The entrance to the Ancient Art Museum

This is exactly what it seems, an ancient art museum. The usual greek-roman stuff you see in every museum. It goes over to byzantine and longobard stuff.

The armory

Now you’re speaking my language! Weapons and armors from all over Italy, from XIII to XVIII century.

Furniture Museum

I really didn’t think something like that existed.

Musical Instruments museum

An archlute. Boyfriend for scale.

Could we all stop for a moment and appreciate that awesome product of human handicraft? That giant guitar/tennis racket/melee weapon is called an archlute. I could totally use it in a fantasy campaign. Stare in awe for a few minutes… a little more… ok, you can go on.

Bonus: enter the biggest violin in the world!

I mean literally.

the biggest violin in the world

Yup, that’s a room in a shape of a giant violin. Nope, you cannot play it. A few master lutists in there explained how high-end violins are made. Did you know that in Italy there is the only public violin-making school in the world? Now you know!

The rest

There were a lot of other things, like a prehistorical exhibition, an egyptian museum, Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Sala delle Asse (unfortunately under restoration) and photography and prints collections, that can only be seen on reservation. The park around the castle (Parco Sempione) is wonderful and hosts the Arena Civica and the Aquarium, among other historical buildings. The famous Pinacoteca di Brera (Brera’s Gallery) is at a 10-min walk from there.

Want to visit Milan? Start from the Castello Sforzesco!