San Maurizio al Monastero

It was years ago that we visited the Convent of San Mauizio.  As I am writing some short articles of Milan that I have recently been to, I do not wish to miss out this beautiful monastery.  And the most impressive paintings to me are those of Noah's Ark, from animals lining up to get in the ark to the heavy rain on the ark and it on the water flooding the world.

The monastery has a nick name as the Sistine Chapel of Milan.  If you step inside the church you will understand why.  The church is full of magnificent frescoes, painted by the best artists of the Lombard School in the 16th century, including Bernardino Luini (a student of Leonardo di Vinci) and his sons, Paolo Lomazzo, Ottavio Semino, Callisto Piazza and Simone Peterzano (the master of Caravaggio).

Now, let's have a look of the gorgeous frescoes.  First, the renowned 'Adorazione dei Magi' (Adoration of the Magi) by Antonio Campi above the main altar. The bump of a horse is presented. The painting looks cute.

A few depict the scenes of Jesus baptism and his death.  It triggers sorrows within hearts.


Apart from biblical scenes, the presentation of various saints is notable. Sharp and bright colours were used. Most of the saints shown here are women, except Saint Sebastian and Saint Rocco. Saint Sebastian is always presented as tying to a tree and shot with arrows.  Above on the left is St Apollonia von Alexandria with tongs and tooth. The one on the right is Saint Lucia holding eyes on a tray.

Saint Rocco is the one showing the open sore on his leg.   He was borne  around 1340 A.D. in Montpellier, France.  At birth, he had a red cross-shaped birthmark on the left side of his chest.  As a young, he already showed great devotion to God. His parents died when he was young.  Soon after, he distributed his wealth among the poor.  He made a pilgrimage to Rome. At time, Italy was stricken with black death. San Rocco cured many of the dreaded disease by praying for them and making the sign of the cross. Unfortunately, he also contracted the plague and was banished from the city. Miraculously, a dog brought him bread. The dog's nobleman owner found him and cured him.

Another remarkable one is Saint Agatha. She was from a rich noble family. Already as age of fifteen she dedicated her virginity to God. As she rejected the amorous advances of Quintianus, she was persecuted and put to a prison.  There she suffered horrible torture and here breasts cut off with pincers. After confrontations with Quintianus, she was sentenced to be burnt at the stake. However, an earthquake saved her from death.  She remained in a prison and died there.  The saint on the left is Saint Catherine with her wheel.

My favourite is Noah's Ark by Aurelio Luini. Pairs of animals going into the ark and many birds flying towards it.   It is a series of paintings composing the story.  Very lovely presentation!

You may wonder why this church is extraordinary beautiful as it is not the cathedral or a big church but a monastery. It is because the main patrons, Bentivoglio and Sforza families related by marriage, were linked to the Benedictine nuns Monasterio Maggiore.  Alessandro Bentivolgio and his wife Ippolita Sforza and his daughter Alessandra allocated a substantial amount of money for the church embellishments.  This is the marriage of money and great artists, in another word or perspective. Patrons were normally featured in the paintings and seen many generations after.

To see the beautiful interior, click here for the Nave with a 360 view and the nun part here.


Hangar Bicocca

Dec 2017
Courtesy of Hangar Bicocca
Lately is an exhibition of Lucio Fontana held at Hangar BicoccaLucio Fontana (Rosario, Argentina 1899 - Varese Italy 1968) is a pioneer of installation art.  He dedicated his time to investigate concepts of space, light, the void and the cosmos.  His works transformed the two-dimensionality of painting, sculpture with new perspectives and movements.

Courtesy of Hangar Bicocca
Now (21 Sep 17 - 25 Feb 18) Hangar Bicocca presents the reconstruction of Fonana's Ambienti spaziali (Spatial Environments) exhibition works, designed in the last 1940s which were almost destroyed after the exhibition.


October 2016

For more than a century ago - beginning in 1886 - thousands of steelworkers gathered at Hangar Bicocca to begin their workday.  Key names are Ernesto Breda and Pirelli ,Things have changed a lot. Today, the once manufacturing place has turned to host exhibitions, art labs and performances. I was nearby the first time in 2010, then 2015 for an exhibition of the Double Bind and Around by Juan Munoz and lately another exhibition of a Japanese artist.   All exhibitions at Hangar Bicocca are free.

Art shown here is exclusively contemporary. Back to 2010 when I passed by there stood an art piece (Sequenza / Sequence) by Fausto Melotti, an iron sculpture in front at the entrance to the Breda steel factory.

I was amazed by the unique exhibition of the Seven Heavenly Palaces by Anselm Kiefer.  Seven towers built with reinforced cement and lead, stand in the darkness. Layer stand over another and build up the height. They look fragile, with risk of falling down. But they are strong and cool.  They attract your eyes on them but a sense of scare and distance rises from the heart.

I saw the Seven Heavenly Palaces twice.   The second time I spent more time on it and took more photos.  It has the glamour to pull you closer and like it more if you get closer to it.  They will stay at Hangar Bicocca permanently. So, take your chance to visit it and allow yourself time to appreciate them.

The exhibition has recently been enriched with five large paintings.  Here are some.

Cette obscure clarté qui tombe des étoiles

Die deutsche Heilslinie
There are many many names on Die deutsche Heilslinie. Some are German thinkers, like Kant, Karl Marx.    The city seems far but yet close.  A lonely man is standing on the opposite shore with a rainbow in front.  Does it stand for hope?

There was a Japanese artist's exhibition, Situation from Kishio Suga (a sculptor and installation artist), when I visited the second time.   His works are very welcome and priced high.  But for me, they are abstract.

Beware on the exhibition hours:

Thursday to Sunday: 10 am to 10 pm; rest of the time: closed


Giardini di Villa Reale

Giardino di Villa Reale is one of my friend's favourite routes to go from Via Pola to the centre of Milan.  If we walk to the town, we normally go to the direction of Gioia underground station, subsequently through the Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli and cross a street to reach the Giardini di Villa Reale and further to the town centre.  Here are snapshots of the Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli in winter 2010,

Giardino di Villa Reale is primarily for children as a sign at the entrance advises that access is reserved for children up to 12 years old accompanied by adults.  No worry, no one will put you to a prison if you visit it without a child.

The park is an enchanting place and an unexpected tranquil oasis in the centre of bustled Milan. There stands a neoclassical style 18-century residence by the Viennese architect Leopoldo Pollak for the wife of Count Lodovico Barbiano de Belgiojoso. Walking around you will see trees, stone-lined pathways flanking the lake and over wooden bridges, ducks and hillocks.  The varied and natural-looking landscape is typical of an English garden.

As the park's neighbour is Padiglione d'Arte contemporanea, an exhibition space for contemporary art, you will always find nice surprises such as I Sette Savi (the Seven Wise Men), art pieces of the exhibition at time when we passed by or paid to enter.

We visited the art museum in 2009 (free in the past). At time it showed art of different times.  But now it is dedicated to 19th century Italian art.  Perhaps, I should return and visit it another time.


Photos above were taken between 2009 and 2011.  My last visit to Milan and passing through the park is October 2016.  I appreciated its beauty in autumn, before the scenes turned to those of the gloomy winter. I hope you enjoy this very nice park and what it offers.  It you live in Milan, please don't take it for granted but appreciate it.  If you are a tourist, do pay a visit.