Milan’s current association with wealth, privacy and aesthetics traces back to its Renaissance peak. In parts one and two of this Renaissance-themed blog series, you’ll learn about the sites that will bring the origins of Milanese identity to life on your next vacation.
The Sforza Castle Façade
Sforza Castle is the perfect place to witness the power of Milan during the Renaissance. As you approach the fortress, you’ll slowly start to comprehend its sheer size – easily one of the largest citadels in Europe. I honestly have never seen anything else like it. Just walking through the castle walls is quite a feat.
The castle is austere and solid in form, except for its size and the crests of the Sforza family, clearly demarcating it as their private domain. It leaves no question as to the family who commissioned such a home. The fiercest crest among them is a dragon consuming a man – imagine the personalities of the family that chose this!
The Sforza Family
The Castello Sforzeco was built in the 15th century for Milan’s power Sforza family. If you’ve ever been to Florence, you can compare this family to the Medici. They both ruled over their cities because of the influence afforded to them by their wealth. Rather than banking like the Medicis, the Sforza family earned their fortune as soldiers-for-hire. The family invested money in their home of Milan, patronizing art and architecture in order to solidify their influence and presence.
How to spend your time nearby and at Sforza Castle
Sforza Castle is incredibly close to Milan’s Duomo. You can walk down a fabulous shopping street, Via Dante, between the two locales with everything from the Italian department store OVS to foreign brand names like Desigual.
Ignore the touristy restaurants with host’s clamboring to invite you inside. If you’re hungry, stray from the main stretch or even backtrack to grab panzerotti from the Milanese institution Luini. While the shopping here is fun, the real treasure lies at the end of this road where you will be greeted by the Castello Sforzeco.
The interior of the castle no longer looks as it once did and contains museums with special collections like historical instruments.
If you don’t love the museums’ niche topics, I suggest skipping the minimal entrance fee, and enjoying the castle itself. It’s free! Stroll the grounds, look for well-worn stairs that show where horses entered the castle with a proud Sforza soldier on his back, and let the Milanese Renaissance come to life.
On part two of this series, we’ll explore Milan’s penchant for aesthetics with Renaissance sites commissioned by the Sforzas. We’ll visit Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, and find a surprise jewel behind one of Milan’s unassuming façades.