Fodor's Expert Review Castello Sforzesco

Castello Museum/Gallery

Wandering the grounds of this tranquil castle and park near the center of Milan is a great respite from the often-hectic city, and the interesting museums inside are an added bonus. The castle's crypts and battlements, including a tunnel that emerges well into the Parco Sempione behind, can be visited with privately reserved guides from Ad Artem or Opera d'Arte.

For the serious student of Renaissance military engineering, the Castello must be something of a travesty, so often has it been remodeled or rebuilt since it was begun in 1450 by the condottiere, or mercenary, who founded the city's second dynastic family: Francesco Sforza, fourth duke of Milan. Although today "mercenary" has a pejorative ring, during the Renaissance all Italy's great soldier-heroes were professionals hired by the cities and principalities they served. Of them—and there were thousands—Francesco Sforza (1401–66) is considered one of the greatest, most honest, and most organized. It is said he could... READ MORE

Wandering the grounds of this tranquil castle and park near the center of Milan is a great respite from the often-hectic city, and the interesting museums inside are an added bonus. The castle's crypts and battlements, including a tunnel that emerges well into the Parco Sempione behind, can be visited with privately reserved guides from Ad Artem or Opera d'Arte.

For the serious student of Renaissance military engineering, the Castello must be something of a travesty, so often has it been remodeled or rebuilt since it was begun in 1450 by the condottiere, or mercenary, who founded the city's second dynastic family: Francesco Sforza, fourth duke of Milan. Although today "mercenary" has a pejorative ring, during the Renaissance all Italy's great soldier-heroes were professionals hired by the cities and principalities they served. Of them—and there were thousands—Francesco Sforza (1401–66) is considered one of the greatest, most honest, and most organized. It is said he could remember the names not only of all his men but of their horses as well. His rule signaled the enlightened age of the Renaissance but preceded the next foreign rule by a scant 50 years.

Since the turn of the 20th century, the Castello has been the depository of several city-owned collections of Egyptian and other antiquities, musical instruments, arms and armor, decorative arts and textiles, prints and photographs (on consultation), paintings, and sculpture. Highlights include the Sala delle Asse, a frescoed room attributed to Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), and Michelangelo's unfinished Rondanini Pietà, believed to be his last work—an astounding achievement for a man nearly 90, and a moving coda to his life—which is housed in the Museo Pietà Rondanini. The pinacoteca (picture gallery) features 230 paintings from medieval times to the 18th century, including works by Antonello da Messina, Canaletto, Andrea Mantegna, and Bernardo Bellotto. The Museo dei Mobili (Furniture Museum), which illustrates the development of Italian furniture design from the Middle Ages to the present, includes a delightful collection of Renaissance treasure chests of exotic woods with tiny drawers and miniature architectural details. A single ticket purchased in the office in an inner courtyard admits visitors to these separate installations, which are dispersed around the castle's two immense courtyards.

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Museum/Gallery

Quick Facts

Piazza Castello
Milan, Lombardy  20121, Italy

02-88463700

www.milanocastello.it

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: Castle free, museums €5 (free Tues. 2–5:30, Wed.–Fri. and weekends 4:30–5:30), Museums closed Mon., Castle free, museums €5 (free every 1st and 3rd Tues. of month after 2 and 1st Sun. of month), Castle free, museums €5 (free Tues. 2–5:30, Wed.–Fri. and weekends 4:30–5:30, and 1st Sun. of month)

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