Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Brera Quarter-Milan-Italy | Bohemian, Artsy Milanese Core.

Brera Quarter is absolutely a stunning symbol of Milan, a place well known all around Italy to be the bohemian, artsy Milanese core, mandatory if you are planning to visit the second Italian city which offers among its endless list of attractions and things to do special urban corners as that captivating, characterful, charismatic borough situated in its historic centre. 

Located between the emblematic Sforza Castle, symbol of the medieval political, military power of a former influential Duchy since the 15th century and the Duomo, the majestic, magnificent Gothic Cathedral, Religious metropolitan emblem, fifth largest Church in the world, that old, stylish district full of history, art, culture with its vibrant nightlife has always been a superb cross road of renowned writers, painters, composers, artists but also famous bohemian figures.

All those characters gave that significant site an indisputable, defined joie de vivre in an environment  eternally surrounded by an incomparable magic atmosphere since the 19th century when it became a favourite meeting point as special destination of an impressive number of geniuses who gravitated around the famous, prestigious Accademia delle Belle Arti, the iconic Academy of Fine Arts.

Cradle of sublime, deep inspirations, creativity, innovation but at the same time conservative because it was able to preserve with pride next to a veiled sense of exclusivity  all what of great was previously born and developed in its boundaries, that is undoubtedly a further, special feature which makes that area unique and inimitable in its kind.

For all that and more Brera  always represented something of extremely appealing since those distant times boasting a very marked identity so different than other urban realities enchanting anyone at first sight.

In the course of the centuries that metropolitan corner became furthermore a very trendy, distinguished design hub very well known internationally in a city which was globally changing image increasing its already busy, active, eclectic profile thanks to the establishment in its boundaries of several new shops, chic boutiques, stylish taverns next to renowned cafes which still characterise that unique Milanese highlight.

During its secular history that Milan´s district never lost its unmistakable appeal and for that it is still one of the landmarks of the Capital of Lombardy constantly visited by tourists, locals who always find something to do thanks to great chances offering every time a multitude of choices for the most varied tastes.

Highlighted by picturesque narrow, cobbled streets, old, elegant palaces, charming houses characterised by stylish courtyards, Brera has always been a place which captured the attention but including the imagination of the most inspired thinkers highlighted by the presence of the emblematic Pinacoteca, that incomparable museum which always played an important role as a sort of call of a siren hosting in its rooms masterpieces of artists who made the history of painting, sculpture and architecture.

Impressive epicentre of diverse avant-garde movements which met in that special scene an ideal, perfect, natural stage to exhibit captivating trends, that quarter is a very distinctive place in which every visitor can breathe in the air pure, fine art spreads all around including in its most remote corners transmitting an immediate pleasure to live special feelings knowing there is anytime in its boundaries an opportunity to see, admire, do and enjoy something of extremely appealing.

Extremely trendy, packed by captivating antique shops, cosy bars to enjoy a drink or a cocktail, that city area which comes alive at night also is able in all its splendour to donate positive vibrations, for that you can compare that Milanese neighbourhood to Montparnasse, Paris, Mala Strana, Prague, Schwabing, Munich or also for its defined literary, artistic soul a bit to Greenwich Village, New York.

Definitely all those places despite very different for history, culture and chronological development are linked by many cultural details, one of them, probably the most tangible and visible in a while is that marked bohemian atmosphere which is undoubtedly a relevant, distinctive common denominator among them.

A further aspect which links all those quarters is that they boast an indisputable fascination generating in a tourist a defined kind of curiosity with the immediate  desire to discover or learn more how they could reach an extreme popularity becoming in their kinds mines of surprises.

They are all districts in which an endless list of men of art created something of important continuing in more contemporary times linked to the myths of the past to generate something of new delighting a myriad of people increasing the traditions of artistic stages despite in different periods with diverse philosophies or trends, probably it is also that which attracts a visitor and Brera about that it is an authentic, true, lively focal point.

The heart of the artistic spirit of that eclectic quarter revolves around the Academy of fine arts surrounded by several well known art galleries, a place which has always been day and night the lounge of prominent figures who discussed, thought and wrote indelible historic pages of the city and Italy too.

Nothing is casual if during their stays in Milan a distinguished long list of famed characters chose Brera as a sort of beloved haven, it is enough to mention some of them such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Antonio Canova, Jacques Louis David, Bertel Thorvaldsen, Giorgio De Chirico, Dario Fo, Umberto Eco and Indro Montanelli, among others.

Also Salvatore Quasimodo, famed Sicilian poet, author, relevant figure of that famous literary movement called Hermeticism selected Milan as his residence and in his apartment of Corso Garibaldi, an important avenue of that Milanese district he received the announcement of the Nobel Prize which awarded his famed, successful artistic life.

That talented man once visited the city for professional reasons but much more for all what saw around him decided without hesitations to live in that charming, captivating "planet" surrounded by a magic aura which was for him a relevant source of deep inspirations.

The intuition of that eminent artist who came from the sunny Sicily so different than that Lombard city was to understand in a while that artsy Milanese core was a perfect base and many of his great works born after long walks all around the streets of Brera which became for him a sort of perfect habitat so essential and highly inspiring.

The same happened to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart despite that talented Austrian composer never lived in Milan. 

That genius from Salzburg during his trips to that Italian centre fell in love in love strolling with immense enthusiasm its charming, winding alleys for hours and hours before to reach a famous Church of that quarter where he frequently stopped there to pray.

That area takes its name from Via Brera, a street which crosses the neighbourhood also giving its denomination to the famous Palazzo di Brera in which is housed that famed Art Gallery: the emblematic Pinacoteca.

Originally the old name "Brera" derives from a Germanic word, Braida or better Brayda indicating a large grassy area, a concrete environment corresponding to that in which was erected the building which still houses the academy.

The neighbourhood is a mixture of old and new styles living in perfect harmony, extremely loved and chose by the Milanese as new residence to enjoy the lively, daily entertainment life it offers but equally a favourite destination for a big number of foreign and Italian artists immediately bewitched for all what gravitates around it transmitting them in a while the desire to find home there as as possible.

Historically at the beginning of the 20th century part of the working Milanese class moved to that area generating a sort of varied social mosaic composed by the former richest class over time next to avant-garde painters, ingenious  architects and brilliant philosophers.

That varied presence added an appealing spirit to an urban setting which is now considered also for that a bohemian environment  packed by creative people who transformed Brera in one of the most eclectic areas of that Italian metropolis.

The district also boasts an incomparable romantic air, strolling its streets in an autumn or winter evening is highly captivating, it is enough to take a look to its scenic lines of stylish palaces erected in the 18th and 19th centuries or crossing one of its charming medieval squares leading to a maze of picturesque alleys all together forming an enchanting scenery illuminated by soft lights emitted by scenic lanterns highlighting splendid corners spreading a very inspiring atmosphere.

Also in a raining day or when the sun is not shimmering that unique scene characterised by a relevant historic, monumental patrimony next to an enchanting, architectural elegant image are in their kinds elements which could compared as sunny rays charming the view of anyone.

A great start point for a visit for its unique, artistic value is certainly the Art Gallery well known as Pinacoteca di Brera, hosted in a palace with the same name, one of the most important museums of Italy, Europe and of the world so famed for its prestigious collections of old and modern paintings.

That imposing construction housing the Academy of Fine Arts, the National Library Braidense and the Astronomical Observatory is located in a building erected in the 16th century by the Jesuits Order who occupied the Convent Santa Maria Umiliata di Brera.

Those monks elevated that place as an important cultural centre establishing a prestigious school, including a library, an archive, all activities strengthened and enriched later by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria who decided to incorporate that famed exhibition after the suppression of the order in  1773 during the times of the first House of Habsburg influence interrupted by a French occupation in 1796.

The famed Pinacoteca is housed in a construction consisting in a space of that former Convent began in 1651 through the work of the notorious architect Richini and completed 22 years later.

Of particular interest is the colossal portal designed by a prominent artist called Giuseppe Piermarini, a talented architect from Foligno, a town in the region Umbria, a figure who is also famous for another project, outstanding landmark of the city as the prestigious, iconic theatre: Teatro Alla Scala.

In the heart of the majestic colonnaded courtyard you can admire a bronze statue depicting Napoléon Bonaparte, an outstanding work by the Venetian Master and sculptor Antonio Canova who executed that imposing sculpture as a symbol of grandeur desired by that French leader who was another figure particularly attracted by the fascination of the city wanting a monument in his honour on its soil.

The fame of that exhibition is due to a large collection boasting over 800 paintings with special highlights the artistic schools of Lombardy, Veneto, Tuscany and Emilia Romagna among others. 

The gallery displays some of the finest works all time, an absolute pride of guarding Italian masterpieces from the 14th to the 20th centuries with a special mention to a large hall  corresponding to the period between the 13th and 16th centuries.

Among the most famous diamonds stand the Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael, Andrea Mantegna's Dead Christ, the Altarpiece by Piero della Francesca, the Pietà by Giovanni Bellini, the Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio and Christ at the Column by Bramante next to an endless presence of other jewels of fine art.

Apart those stunning works worth a mention the magnificent rooms exclusively dedicated to the 19th century, other masterpieces were recently added thanks to generous donations by Maria and Emilio Jesi once belonged to their rich collection. 

Superb masterpieces by Giovanni Fattori, Francesco Hayez, Giovanni Segantini, Giuseppe Pellizza from Volpedo and Medardo Rosso are further highlights for the joy of the visitors who are in love with concrete movements such as Romanticism, Divisionism, Symbolism, Macchiaioli, Post impressionism also related to sculpture and much more.

For all the passionate fans of modern art a brilliant opportunity consists to visit a magnificent space hosting an evocative, outstanding sort of journey through Italian art since the first 900.

Many are other prominent names protagonists of other more contemporary styles such as as Futurism, Modern Realism, Methaphysical Art represented by some magnificent works by Amedeo Modigliani, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Car, Giorgio Morandi, Mario Sironi and Filippo de Pisis among other celebrated exponents.
All those eminent aritsts left in the Pinacoteca di Brera some of their most emblematic gems offering a unique, magnificent occasion for the visitors to admire an endless artistic treasure of great value.

The Accademia di Brera (Academy of Fine Arts) is well known to be the seat of a Public University located in the palace. According to the current training the MIUR, the Academy is included in the University in the area of Higher Education in Art and Music, the academic diplomas of level 1 are equivalent to a degree while the so-called Level 2 corresponds to another kind of title.

Worth undoubtedly a visit the famous Osservatorio di Brera boasting a considerable history started in 1764 distinguishing itself since then as one of the most active scientific Institutions arose in Europe.

In that place was determined in 1784 the first circular orbit of the planet Uranus and just two years later was made the first map of the Region Lombardy corresponding  to a very modern work of incomparable prestige considering the period in which was developed, highly appreciated all around the Continent in that time.

That regarded Centre is also notorious for the great discovery by Schiaparelli's canals existing on Mars. The announcement that on such planet there might be life form created an immense interest of scientists, public from all around the world while the final word on Mars by Schiaparelli came in 1964 thanks to the images of the Mariner 4 spacecraft.

That scientist was one of the leading astronomers of that time well known because he studied the dynamics of double stars first in addition formulating a bit later the hypothesis that the tails of the comets were originated from the solar wind.

Furthermore that eminent mind reached an extreme notoriety when he explained that the fall of meteorites is caused by their dissolution and tried it with the Perseid.

The telescope with which Schiaparelli observed the surface of Mars was made with refractors of 22 centimetres in diameter, it has been restored with the great chance to admire it in its original location at the rooftop of Palazzo Brera.

Very interesting is also the collection of antique instruments, that exhibition displays a rich collection dated the 18th and 19th centuries belonged to the Centre consisting in quadrants, sextants, telescopes, refractors devices, machinery, different weather instruments but also geomagnetic, mapping, multipliers circles, fixed refractors, micrometres and spectroscopes among others.

Next to all that the visitor can admire relevant spectrograph, passages instruments, meridian circles, watches and also reflecting telescopes, a presence which makes that site definitely a notable collection boasting something of great which in its kind made our history.

All that you can see today was arranged thanks to all what Mr. Schiaparelli left as unique inheritance, a man who was also the Director of the Observatory of Brera from 1862 to 1900.  

The local Institutions have been able with a great work to preserve the heritage of the historical, scientific instruments displayed in that site which are still nowadays studied by contemporary scientists taking from them inspirations or simply to enlarge their knowledge in terms of historic stages admiring items which created a myth in the world of astronomy.

The section dedicated to the old instruments lies in a space which shows pieces according to criteria of homogeneity in order to facilitate the understanding of them, among the most interesting items worth a mention a machine which came to Brera in 1798 consisting in a multiplier Reichenbach made in 1808.

Not far from there continuing the visit you can admire the emblematic Palazzo Cusani, Cusani Palace, a beautiful building representing a great example of fine, late Baroque art commissioned by the Bishop of Pavia Agostino Cusani and erected by the architect Giovanni Ruggeri.

It shows a large facade result of the most stylish works in vogue in Italy in the 17th century greatly highlighted by a magnficent rectangular courtyard surrounded by Tuscan columns coupled in granite while the front garden was developed by famous architect Piermarini.

The building was sold by the State Property to the Kingdom of Italy which destined it as site of the Ministry of Defence and it currently hosts the Territorial Command with offices linked to the Italian Army.

The area surrounding that emblematic palace is one of the oldest in the city full of history with notable artistic masterpieces in terms of superb architectural works developed in the quarter all time.

One of the most relevant historic symbols you can admire there is undoubtedly the magnificent Chiesa di San Marco, a beautiful Church dedicated to St. Mark erected in 1254 by the monk Lanfranco Settala.

That Religious construction was elevated as a sign of gratitude to the Venetians who helped Milan in that famous battle against the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I also known as Frederick Barbarossa crowned by Pope Adrian IV who also became King of Italy in 1155.

A pretty large modification with restorations dated the 17th century did not delete some architectural former details as a marvellous Gothic facade which despite remained unfinished retains as original elements a beautiful medieval portal and the bell tower highlighted by a scenic spire placed above the belfry.

The interior is richly decorated, highlighted by the presence of marvellous chapels, in addition you will be delighted by the view of among the most famous frescoes of the school of Leonardo with especially one depicting the Virgin Mary with the Child in her arms blessing St. John.

An additional attraction is certainly a relevant  Antegnati organ dated the 16th century which represents in its kind a magnificent masterpiece of that time made by Costanzo Antegnati, a master from Brescia, who placed his great works in different important cities of Italy such as Turin, Venice, Verona, Vicenza, Parma, Modena, Ferrara Cremona, Pavia, Bergamo, Como, Mantova, Lodi but also abroad in Lugano and Bellinzona. 

Apart the considerable artistic patrimony that stupendous Church boasts it is also very famous for another relevant aspect because it was also the favourite place chosen by prominent people who during their stays in Milan prayed in that temple among them famous characters such as Martin Luther the father of the Protestant Religion, the previously mentioned Austrian composer Mozart and the writer Giuseppe Parini.

Next to the charming square Piazza San Marco starts Via Brera, the famous artists street on which lies the Giardino Botanico, the notorious Botanical Garden dated the 18th century.

The creation of that site was since its inception a considerable attraction covering a surface area of approximately five thousand square metres with 18th century greenhouses highlighted by a special, attractive design of flowerbeds.

Of great interest for its beauty and size, that space offers the chance to see some different kind of trees planted in the same year of its foundation such as Gingko Biloba, Firmiana platanifolia and Pterocarya fraxinifolia among many others. 

The garden recently returned to enjoy a consolidation thanks to the credit belongs to the Department of Biology of University of Milan which with considerable operations re-established the glorious times of that site.

In Via San Marco at the civic number 2 you can see the N' Ombra de vin, a famous wine bar established in an old refectory of the Augustinian Order  in which you can stop to taste a great variety of fine wines, an ideal place to have an enjoyable break in a very pleasant atmosphere.

Not far in Via Solferino stands the emblematic Palazzo del Corriere della Sera with its huge, imposing facade hosting the seat of the most famous Italian newspaper. That building was erected in 1903 to house the former editorial direction and typography of that iconic Milanese mean of information.

Milan is well known worldwide to be the international capital of fashion, design  and Brera is also part of all that. 

The famous Studio Museo Castiglioni is one of the most important Italian designers exhibitions open to the public representing a sort of splendid journey to discover the finest made in Italy in the city with a workplace showing some of the emblematic prototypes of the most famous figures related to those industries. 

Piazza del Carmine is another mandatory during your visit of the quarter consisting in a charming medieval square on which was elevated the homonym Church

That magnificent Religious erected in 1447 was originally frequented by the highest aristocracy of Milan.

Largely rebuilt after the collapse of the roof that Sacred temple was further restored and modernised in 1880 by the gamed architect Carlo Maciachini from Induno Olona, a town near Varese who also designed in 1866 the famous Milan Monumental Cemetery.

Thar figure was  one of the leaders of that movement which was named "Milanese Eclecticism" very active between 1860 and 1920 next to other renowned artists such as Luca Beltrami, Luigi Broggi and Camillo Boito among others.

A great highlight in its interior is the Chapel of the Rosary by Gerolamo Quadrio decorated with fine marbles containing paintings by Camillo Procaccini, an illustrious artist from Parma who moved to Milan in the late 16th century well known for other superb works executed in Piacenza, Pavia, Brescia, Tortona, Sacro Monte d' Orta among others.

In the square you can also admire a great Tuscan bronze sculpture made by the Polish artist Igor Mitoraj, born in Oderan, Germany and a beautiful statue depicting Francesco Hayez, emblematic Venetian painter whose history is closely linked to that of the Academy of Fine Arts.

The image of Brera is also well known as a district frequented by talented street performers and packed by small cosy, stylish cafes. 

It is a neighbourhood which for that always attracted several people therefore in many occasions compared for its style and those details to the most artistic Parisian quarters, features which supported that "title" when it is classified as the Bohemian and artsy Milanese core.

The spirit of that neighbourhood is nowadays more alive than ever, you can find along its streets, superb musicians divinely playing violin, excellent singers with a guitar performing songs by Rolling Stones, Beatles, Pink Floyd or Italian folk music, magicians, mime artists and much more. 

Every night its windy streets come alive with stalls and curious characters who in presence of candlelights predict the future next to cartomants and fortune tellers.

The third Saturday of each month in the heart of Brera takes place the small but fascinating antiques market with old antique dealers displaying small charming objects, jewelry, prints, military artifacts, porcelain, glass, silverware and many other interesting items, a great occasion for all those who are planning a short break in the city, obviously  interested about those kind of events.

The market consists of approximately 70 stalls located along the streets Via Fiori Chiari, Via Madonna and Via Formentini creating a true,unique, fascinating, lively atmosphere.

Brera is also the ideal place to spend a more than pleasant evening enjoying furthermore a vibrant nightlife. It is a district with several captivating restaurants offering a wide choice of entertainment with an ample range of alternatives. 

Do not miss yo have a cool drink in Jamaica, that place is a historic highlight, elevated as an iconic symbol of the Bohemian Milan.

Opened in 1921, that emblematic site was since its inception one of the distinctive destinations of the quarter favourite meeting point for painters, sculptors and writers. 

Perhaps today it lost a bit that nostalgic charm because its audience is more diverse but it always played an important role also in more contemporary times offering artistic, cultural exhibitions next tot live music shows more than appreciated.

Other places pretty trendy are Tombon ,Two and Art Cafe but ample is the selection with a large number of stylish bars, renowned, fashionable cafes, chic restaurants, inviting taverns all them offering you the opportunity to enjoy a more than pleasant night with the brilliant chance to move easily from one to another filling your specific tastes and time.

Theatre tradition in the city is very rooted, one of the highlights of that city of Italy boasting a notable prestige and the district offers the visitor splendid chances with a vast calendar of notable appointments at IL Piccolo Teatro Della cittá di Milano, the Little Theatre of the City of Milan.

Founded after the Second World War by the famous Director Giorgio Strehler it quickly established itself as one of the trendiest places focused about that kind of art. 

The new building was named after Strehler died in the meantime, a venue which has its own importance and space in the neighbourhood hosting important events of national and international fame. 

Brera visit is suggested to all the tourists but also professional of tourism who want to enjoy a very pleasant time.

For the seconds is recommended to transmit the charm of that quarter to potential or loyal customers telling them some secrets of that very special neighbourhood and why not organising for them as an inviting present a special itinerary because many are the options to create many of them for the most varied tastes linking, art,history, fashion, design, gastronomy, entertainment and nighlife in a unique environment.

In the area, there are comfortable Hotels for an enjoyable stay and I added some of them in links below the post in the case you are planning a future trip to Milan.

Brera is not only tradition and past, today it is a place of exclusive shopping and it stores details of the pure, fascinating Milan, a quarter which is in its kind a  little world of curiosities, vintage shops, great bars, animated clubs which all together are as a sparkling cocktail delighting the palate of a visitor, something you will never forget planning a trip to Italy and concretely in that city.

The artsy motto of that quarter is: here is everything, undoubtedly a unique place, equal to anything but in the hearts and souls of those who visited that bohemian Milan area called Brera there are always those fantastic, pleasant memories to have seen something of simply incomparable and absolutely unforgettable.

Francesco Mari

Recommended Hotels close to Brera District

Hotel Bulgari Milano
Hotel Palazzo Parigi
Armani Hotel Milano
Grand Hotel et de Milan
Carlyle Brera Hotel
Hotel Milano Scala
Una Hotel Cusani
Style Hotel Milano

Useful links


  1. Hello Francesco. Thanks for sharing this experience with us. I went to Milan a month ago and I had a pleasure to visit Brena district too. I stayed in in fully equipped villa from Cottages to castles and I was really satisfied. Can I ask you where do you usually stay when you travel? Do you prefer hotels or rented places?

  2. Hi there Laura,a pleasure to share experiences,I am glad you visited Brera,about accomodations,depend in some cities as Prague,Budapest but also Belgrade and in many other East European cities recently you can find excellent accomodations in apartments,in other places I choose,I love very much the formula apartment and hotels too.all depend of what we can find in determinate desrinations.A pleasure to know you,have a great evening and take care.



Thanks a lot to read and note.