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Milan: five unusual places to discover!

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The Milanese spring and its cherry blossoms

In this article, I present you five unusual Milanese places to discover during your stay there!



  1. The monumental cemetery of Milan and its eclectic funerary art

  2. The church of San Bernardino alle Ossa and its ossuary

  3. The sculpture in the form of a middle finger: L.O.V.E. (Libertà, Odio, Vendetta, Eternità)

  4. Villa Invernizzi and its pink flamingos

  5. Palazzo Sola Busca and its ear-shaped intercom


1. The monumental cemetery of Milan and its eclectic funerary art

The monumental cemetery of Milan with, in its center, the Famedio

Concerning the monumental cemetery of Milan, I would say that it is an unusual must-see during your stay! Indeed, this cemetery bears its name very well: it is huge (25 hectares) and its numerous tombs have a lot of sculptures, you almost have the feeling that they are going to come alive, making this cemetery, paradoxically, very alive. It is also the kingdom of cats.

Regarding its history, this cemetery was opened in 1866 to merge the small and unhealthy cemeteries that were then destroyed in the city.

Many maps of the cemetery are scattered around on signs (and also available in paper format at the entrance), making the visit easy. I think that you can easily plan two hours to take the time to soak up the place.

Please note: the cemetery is located in the Porta Volta neighborhood, near the Porta Garibaldi train station, and is closed every Monday! All other days it is open continuously from 8am to 6pm. The entrance is free.

The Famedio: Pantheon of Milanese personalities

At the entrance to this cemetery, which looks like an open-air museum, stands the Famedio with its bright blue ceiling, the tomb of the writer Alessandro Manzoni, that of Luca Beltrami, the architect of the new Milan, or the sculpture of the composer Giuseppe Verdi.

From left to right: graves of the Bernocchi, Campari and Bruni families

Finally, among the funerary monuments to discover absolutely during your visit, I list three:

  • Tomb of the Bernocchi family (1936, architect: Alessandro Minali and sculptor: Giannino Castiglioni): a kind of Tower of Babel of about ten meters high representing the life of Jesus.

  • Tomb of the Campari family (1935, sculptor: Giannino Castiglioni): sculpted representation in bronze and in real size of the painting The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, of which I explain to you in this other article how to succeed in seeing this masterpiece always booked months in advance at the last minute at the church Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.

  • Tomb of the Bruni family (1876, architect: Angelo Colla and sculptor: Giulio Monteverde): amazing pyramid.


2. The church of San Bernardino alle Ossa and its ossuary

Another peculiarity to discover in Milan, near the Duomo, is the church of San Bernardino alle Ossa, which does not look like much from the outside, but has a special feature to observe, namely a side chapel decorated with an ossuary of skulls and human bones.

Concerning the history of this place, a hospital was erected in 1145 near the nearby church of Santo Stefano Maggiore. But with the plague, the cemetery of this church filled up very quickly and a new room had to be built to collect the bones. In 1269, the church of San Bernardino alle Ossa was built next to this new room. Then, in 1679, the church of San Bernardino was rebuilt, after having collapsed under the bell tower of the church of Santo Stefano.

When entering the church of San Bernardino alle Ossa, tourists tend to head straight for the ossuary on the right (accessible for a donation and you receive an explanatory sheet in English about the history of the place). Take a look at the church, which is octagonal and baroque in style.

The ossuary is small and square and its walls are decorated with skulls and human bones in rococo style. On the vault you can see a fresco dating from 1695 by the painter Sebastiano Ricci: The triumph of souls in a flight of angels.


3. The sculpture in the form of a middle finger: L.O.V.E. (Libertà, Odio, Vendetta, Eternità)

A third surprising feature to discover in Milan is this 11-meter high finger, standing in front of the Palazzo Mezzanotte, a building built during the Fascist era and currently housing the Italian Stock Exchange.

Made in 2010, this sculpture nicknamed "Il Dito" (the finger in Italian), by the Milanese, was initially supposed to stay two weeks, but is still there, despite local protests.

The artist, Maurizio Cattelan, has never given the meaning to be attributed to this finger, which remains at the discretion of each. Nevertheless, we can assume a double meaning: both an erosion of the fascist salute, but also a protest against financial institutions, following the financial crisis of 2007-2008.


4. Villa Invernizzi and its pink flamingos

To continue, here is a surprising place in the heart of downtown Milan: the Villa Invernizzi in art deco style that houses in its garden ... flamingos imported from Chile and Africa since 1970!

The villa was named after its owner, the inventor of the industrial cheese Mio, known to all Italians. Thus, the villa is private, so you cannot enter its courtyard accessible from Corso Venezia 32, but you can observe the flamingos on the other side of the villa, behind the gate, in Via Cappuccini, 7.

For your information, this neighborhood is nicknamed the "quadrilateral of silence". Indeed, it is a haven of peace in the heart of the city and Villa Invernizzi is the perfect proof!


5. Palazzo Sola Busca and its ear-shaped intercom

Finally, a last peculiarity to discover just a few steps from Villa Invernizzi: it is the Palazzo Sola Busca in liberty style of the late 1920s, where you can observe next to the front door a bronze ear sculpture that used to actually serve as an intercom to interact with the janitor of the time. This work of art was made by Adolfo Wildt, master of Italian Art Nouveau. To be seen in Via Serbelloni, 10.

See you soon for more articles dedicated to Milan and Rome!


=> I hope that this article has helped you in the preparation of your stay in Milan and, if you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate, I'll be happy to get back to you!

Don't hesitate to check out my other articles on Milan dedicated to the discovery of the mythical Scala on a guided tour, but also to three gourmet addresses in the city!


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