In the previous post we saw the beautiful Piazza Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanule II, through which you arrive in Piazza della Scala. Here the most important building is the “Teatro alla Scala” (often shorten in “La Scala”). This is an opera house where have performed most of Italy’s greatest operatic artists and many of the finest singers from around the world. La Scala is regarded as one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world.
In Piazza della Scala, apart La Scala, there are various buildings and monuments: the “Casino Ricordi” (a palace beside the theatre, built like house of the members of the Noble Association of Palchettisti during the evening show); the “Palazzo Marino” (a fascinating building of 16th century, that is the seat of Milan’s city hall since 1861); the Monument to Leonardo da Vinci; the “Palazzo della Banca Commerciale Italiana” (it’s an historic building designed by architect Luca Beltrami for BCI, an Italian bank); the “Palazzo Beltrami” ( seat of municipal accounting).
Since my time in Milan was ending, I left Piazza della Scala, and in few minutes I arrived in “Largo Cairoli”, a large space where there is the equestrian monument to Garibaldi and behind this, the giant Sforza Castle.
It was built in the 15th century by the Duke of Milan (Francesco Sforza), on the remains of ancient fortification. Later renovated and enlarged, it was one of the largest citadels in Europe and today it houses various art collections and city’s museum. The façade is featured by the central tower (called “Torre del Filarete”), rebuilt after an explosion in 17th century. From the façade it develop the castle walls, with differences between the front side and rear side. In fact, in the front side the walls end with two towers of circular shape, while the opposite side has two towers of a rectangular shape. All perimeter is still surrounded by the original moat, not flooded. Inside the castle walls, there are three distinct courts: the parade ground; the courtyard of “Rocchetta”; the ducal court.
The parade ground is the first place that you see once inside the walls, and it’s separate from the other two courts by the dead moat. The parade ground, the largest of the three courts, is the space where the troops stationed in the castle were received. On the left side of the parade ground there is Spanish Hospital, built to shelter the castellans infected by plague (now it hosts the sculpture “Pietà Rondanini” of Michelangelo). The right side instead, is a space used to expose finds of Renaissance Milan.
In the center of the parade ground there is a baroque statue of John of Nepomuk and close to this statue there is a door that brings to ducal court. This was the Duke’s residence and it was the part more impregnable of the castle. The court has a U form, with a fascinating arcade in the bottom wall, in front of which there is a long pool full of water.
On the opposite side of ducal court, there is the court of Rocchetta, that has a rectangular shape with an arcade on the three sides. To appreciate are the frescoes on the vaults, the stone capitals and the coats of arms used as decorations.
Finished the visit at the castle, I went out from the second entrance, that leads in “Parco Sempione”, a park once was the ducal park. With the Sforza’s fall, the park was abandoned, until the Napoleonic era, when the architect Giovanni Antonio Antolini designed a big building complex, named “Forum Bonaparte”. The project, too ambitious, was never edified, and in its place it was realized a big park for civic uses, the “Arena Civica Gianni Blera” (one of the city’s main examples of neoclassical architecture that today mainly hosts football and rugby union games, concerts and cultural events) and the beautiful Arch of Peace.
It is a triumphal arch dedicated to peace between the European Nations, reached in 1815 with the Congress of Vienna. Inaugurated in 1838, with the presence of Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I, this arch is one of the most important neoclassical monument of Milan. It has many marble bas-relief and bronze statues, a really beautiful work that deserves a visit. Little curiosity: according with traditions, to mock French, Habsburg changed the position of horses of 180° so that the horses’ ass were oriented toward France.
These were the mainly things to see in Milan, but there is much more to see.
Good light to everyone