We bet that our guided tour of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana will make you forget the frantic pace of the city, plunging you into a marvellous treasure chest of art and beauty!
There are not only absolute masterpieces such as Caravaggio’s Basket of Fruit or the Preparatory cartoon of the School of Athens by Raphael – recently restored and once again fully visible by the public and of which the five hundredth anniversary was celebrated in 2020, with an extensive apparatus of in-depth study – the leaves of the superb Atlantic Codex by Leonardo da Vinci and the famous portrait of Musico… the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan also conceals stories of incestuous love, beautiful women, illegitimate children and curious trinkets which tell of stories on the cusp between legend and reality.
The priceless wealth of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana
The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, elegant, discreet and hidden from tourists’ eyes, deserves without hesitation a guided tour. Looking on to the Piazza Pio XI, together with the Ambrosiana Library which completes it, it is one of the three major art galleries in Milan, together with Brera and the Castello Sforzesco. It was the pride of Cardinal Federico Borromeo, who designed a very modern cultural complex to house his collections in the early 17th century.
Since then, the ancient rooms of the Library and the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana have been a real temple of art and knowledge, full of paintings, sculptures, books, manuscripts and ancient objects, the heritage of cultures of all periods. Today, thanks to numerous donations, the heritage of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana amounts to over fifteen hundred works of art, harmoniously placed in the architecture of the building. By variety and quality, the collections of the Ambrosiana have really very little to envy the museums of the main European capitals: on the tour our qualified tour guides will select the rooms and the most remarkable masterpieces, taking you to discover the greatest gems in this marvellous treasure chest.
A tour among the masterpieces of the collection of Cardinal Federico Borromeo
Our guided tour of Pinacoteca Ambrosiana starts from the superb masterpieces of Cardinal Federico’s collection: the Basket of Fruit by Caravaggio, countless other paintings by great Masters such as Titian, Botticelli or painters of the Lombard Renaissance, from Bramantino to Bernardino Luini. Recently restored, the preparatory Cartoon by Raphael for the fresco of the School of Athens is today at the centre of a completely renovated room in its display and digital support at the service of visitors: the encounter with the majestic figures of the scene by Raphael, imbued with the Roman spirit, will certainly fascinate you!
After passing the colourful masterpieces of the Flemish 17th century, a riot of shapes, flowers and colours, after a few steps we are in the Aula Leonardi, where we will admire the famous Musico by Leonardo da Vinci and the important paintings by artists who were inspired by Leonardo, brought together in this one section. Alongside, in the Sala Federiciana, the former reading room of the Ambrosiana Library, we will be able to see from close at hand about twenty drawings from the famous Atlantic Codex, the largest and most amazing collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s paper leaves. It is an exceptional display, created for the 2015 Universal Exposition, which still proposes today, in rotation, some very famous drawings by the genius from Vinci…. A real stroke of luck for us visitors!
You have to know that the Atlantic Codex, so-called because of the “atlas” size of its pages, is a very large volume put together in the late 16th century by the sculptor Pompeo Leoni. Leoni collected more than 1700 writings and drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, a real “atlas” to guide us through the thousands of inventions and works of art that he imagined or, at times, actually created during his career. The pages embrace every aspect of the intellectual research of the genius of Leonardo da Vinci, ranging from botany to astronomy, from mechanics to town-planning and architecture, without overlooking his studies on explosive devices and on machines to probe the sea or fly in the sky.
The Ambrosiana between mysteries and legends
There is not just art! For the fans of noirs and mysteries, there are many enigmatic objects hidden in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana that tell of stories and legendary curiosities. On the guided tour, our professional guide will attract your attention, for example, to the dagger which, according to tradition, killed the Duke of Milan Galeazzo Maria Sforza on St Stephen’s Day (26 December) 1476: legend or truth? Again in the museum’s rooms, kept in a glass, bronze and malachite showcase, there is a real relic, a lock of the blonde hair of Lucretia Borgia, one of the most beautiful and unscrupulous women of the whole of the Renaissance!
Whether you want to hear the stories hidden behind the strangest objects in the Ambrosiana or you want to admire the great masterpieces of the art gallery, don’t miss the opportunity of entering this Milanese temple of knowledge: a “treasure chest that only deserves being opened and told!”