VISIT THE BIGGEST MUSEUM OF MILAN FOR FREE
The biggest museum of Milan is free. No, it isn’t the stunning Pinacoteca di Brera (Brera Picture Gallery), nor the elegant Pinacoteca Ambrosiana. It is the Monumental Cemetery, literally an open-air museum of artistic tombs and monuments. And no ticket is required to visit this enormous collection of classical and contemporary sculptures, of temples, of obelisks and other original works.
A HALL OF FAME
Since 1867, when it was opened, the Monumental Cemetery has always been the resting place of some of the city’s and the country’s most honored citizens, such as politicians, writers, artists, sport champions, singers, etc.
All noted dinasties of Milanese industrialists and entrepreneurs have built here their magnificent graves. From the Feltrinelli, one of Italy’s wealthiest families during the last century, to the Falck, founders of one of the oldest Italian companies in the steel industry. From the Bocconi, who established the renown Bocconi University, to the Treccani, who developed the eponymous Enciclopedia Italiana, one of the greatest encyclopaedias, along with the Encyclopædia Britannica.
The list of artists buried here is breathtaking: Arturo Toscanini, the composer; Dario Fo, writer and Nobel prize winner; Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, founder of the Futurist Movement; Alessandro Manzoni, the novelist considered the founder of modern Italian language; Valentina Cortese, actress; Gae Aulenti, architect.
A WALK AMID ART
Some tombs and monuments will strike you for their eccentricity, such as the Mausoleum of Antonio Bernocchi, which is a replica of the Trajan Column in Rome. Or the Morgagni family’s grave, displaying a group of six dancers performing a ritual dance and blowing on the flame of life; above their heads, a mosaic reproduces a sentence signed by Benito Mussolini, the Fascist founder and leader.
Our favourite monument is the impressive, bigger-than-life Last Supper of the Campari family. Focus on the chalice in front of Jesus: its size, definitely excessive, is obviously a reminder of the family occupation. Gaspare Campari, who invented in 1860 the world-famous red aperitif beverage, rests here.
MEMORIES OF WAR
One of our guided tours, A day in the footsteps of Pino Lella, includes a visit to the Monumental Cemetery. Pino Lella was a wartime boy hero who rescued Jewish families from Nazi persecution and fed information to the Allies. His unbelievable yet true adventures took place in Milan during the most dramatic days of WWII, and the Cemetery is the place where he made a tragic discovery. If you want to find out more, write to us!