While constantly looking for secret undiscovered corners of Milan, I sometimes forget to put the right attention to the most known ones. I must confess that I visited some of the most iconic monuments of Milan very late and some of them I still haven’t visited at all. The reason is that I take them for granted somehow and I prefer to look for special corners, not very famous but as magical as the famous ones.
During the last year, also considering the lack of tourists and the possibility to visit all the most famous places in Milan without queuing or waiting for weeks before finding an available spot (as it used to be for visiting Leonardo’s Last Supper for example), I decided to start visiting my town as a tourist.
And I decided to start from the heart of Milan: Brera district.
The occasion was the visit of the “Pinacoteca di Brera”, an incredible museum inside the amazing Brera Palace, a late Baroque building which was erected over the remains of a 14th century monastery of the Umiliati order. The Empress Maria Theresa of Austria founded the Accademia in 1776 and housed it in the Palace. The Pinacoteca was officially established in 1809, even though a first heterogeneous collection with educational purpose existed already from 1776 – and then increased in the following years – alongside the Accademia di Belle Arti, requested by Mary Therese of Austria to offer the students the opportunity to study masterpieces of art close up. The Pinacoteca di Brera’s collection includes several of the greatest masterpieces in the history of art such as Francesco Hayez’s The Kiss, Giovanni Bellini’s Pietà, Andrea Mantegna’s The Dead Chirst and Three Mourners and Bellini’s St. Mark Preaching in Alexandria.
After the visit I headed to the Cenacolo Vinciano, finally! I have wanted to visit one of the most famous paintings in the World, Leonardo’s The Last Supper, for ages but it was so complicated as, due to the many bookings, you could have waited for weeks or months before finding a free 30 minutes slot for the visit. The Covid situation of course made this a bit easier as I could finally book my ticket just two days before my visit! I am very happy that I did it because this painting, dated 1495/1498 and placed in the former refectory of the renaissance monastery next to the Santa Maria delle Grazie church, is such an experience. I realized that I stared at the painting, almost speechless, for more than 10 minutes. It was emotional and powerful at the same time. Now I understand why it is considered Leonardo’s (and the whole Italian Renaissance) masterpiece.
My tourist visit ended with the Santa Maria delle Grazie church, founded in 1459 by Dominican monks after Duke of Milan Francesco I Sforza ordered the church and convent at the site of a prior chapel dedicated to the Marian devotion of St Mary of the Graces. It is today listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After this incredible artistic tour I decided to have a sweet break at Di Viole di Liquirizia, a super colorful bakery in the heart of Brera with cupcakes and freshly baked cakes in a shabby chic décor. I just needed this little peaceful break before heading to two of my favorite vintage shops in the area: Bottega Rossa and Urzì. Twin shops although very different, they have a parallel family history: the first born was Bottega Rossa, an eclectic vintage shop that maintains old Milan vibes, as it was one of the very first vintage shops in town. It is today one of my favorite vintage shops as I can find there the real taste of the past mixed with the stories told by its adorable owner, Francesco Urzì.
Urzì is the son of Bottega Rossa, literally. It is a more modern shop with amazing rare and designer pieces that made me think “Like father, like son”!
Of course I bought some very rare jewelry pieces, scarves and nightwear at Bottega Rossa, as I usually do when I go there!
There’s so much more to do in Brera but I don’t want to spoil it all now! This was just my little self-dedicated afternoon in the heart of Milan some time ago.
Vintage dress: London Corner Vintage
Vintage bag: Blondie Girl Vintage
Handamde turban: Madame Ilary