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How to visit Parco Sempione and Castello Sforzesco in Milan?

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Parco Sempione and Castello Sforzesco is a complex in Milan to relax in the green area and watch one of the main Michelangelo scultpure.

The band of Elio e le storie tese

Parco Sempione

Verde e marrone

Dentro la mia città

Metto su il vibro

Leggo un bel libro

Cerco un po’ di relax

Sempione Park

Green and brown

Inside my city

I put the vibro on

I read a good book

Seeking a little relaxation

The song “Parco Sempione” of the band of “Elio e le storie tese” represents the intelligence of the Milanese band very well. In the lyrics, a Milanese goes to Parco Sempione to seek some relaxation but he is disturbed by a boy playing bongo drums. In the following steps, the song turns into an accusation of the Lombardy Region. The Region is guilty of having cut down a city forest to build the “Palazzo Lombardia” skyscraper, despite complaints from citizenship.

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During my university years I have often seen the video of the song “Parco Sempione”. Any time was good to see an extremely funny and clever video and song. My friends and I laughed out loud also thanks to the participation in the video by Maccio Capatonda, a very popular comedian.

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The song “Parco Sempione” is contained in the 2008 album “Studentessi” that can be listened on Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp. The album demonstrates that the band “Elio e le storie tese” knows how to combine zany atmospheres, good music and love for the city of Milan. The song highlights Parco Sempione, the green lung where the Milanese seek a little peace from the heat and frenzy of everyday life.

The complex

Castello Sforzesco

Travel tips: the park can be easily reached by public transportation. You can arrive at the park from the Milan Cadorna railway station, the main hub of the Trenord company . From here, trains can directly reach Lake Como and Malpensa airport.

sforzesco castle bridge entrance milan

The train stop intersects with both the M2 (green) and M1 (red) subway lines, managed by the municipal ATM company . Lanza on the M2 line and Cairoli on the M1 line are the two other metro stops from which it is easy to reach the park. In particular, Cairoli overlooks the Sforzesco Castle.

sforzesco castle cairoli milan italy

We recommend that you get off at the Cairoli stop where you will find yourself in front of piazza Castello. The square has a large fountain in the center renamed “Torta degli Sposi” (wedding cake) due to its shape. The fountain was built in the Fascist era. Today it is an important meeting point for young Milanese.

wedding cake fountain milan italy

The Filarete tower, the main tower of the Castello Sforzesco is behind the wedding cake fountain. The tower was rebuilt in 1905 after it collapsed in 1521. The tower has an interesting architecture desgin that stands with its four layers of bodies that shrink upwards.

On the ground, the powerful squared base body stands out. On the second layer body, the clock was added in the reconstruction. Going up with your gaze to the third layer body, you can see the arches from which you can glimpse the bells. The fourth layer body is the loggia with a rounded dome that crowns the entire tower.

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The Filarete tower stands at the center of the facade of the Sforzesco castle, a building built between the 14th and 15th centuries. Today, you can see the original squared building. Each edge of the building is 200 meters long and there are four other towers placed at each corner.

The park and the arch

Behind the Castle, you can see the 300 hectares of Parco Sempione. The park area was the subject of important discussions following the unification of Italy in 1861. Initially, the government planned to demolish the castle and parcel out the entire area to favor the urban expansion of Milan. Fortunately, the castle was saved and the park became an English garden with carriage paths and a pond.

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sempione filarete tower sforzesco castle

As shown in the map above, it’s funny that the metro stop Cairoli, the Filarete tower, the wedding cake fountain, and the Arch of Peace are all on the same line. The Arch of Peace was started to build in 1807 by French. The Napoleonic domination began to create an arch to pay homage to the triumphs of Napoleon Bonaparte.

arch peace sempione milan italy

Following the fall of the French general, the new Austrian rulers decided to finish the arch to pay homage to the peace achieved through the Vienna Congress of 1815. Today, the arch represents one of the greatest examples of Milanese neoclassicism. The arch is part of the Sempione gate, which includes two customs toll booths. The entire construction was supposed to represent the entrance to the city from France.

Visiting the Castle

Pietà Rondanini

The first time I was in Milan to listen to a series of lectures that experts discussed the fate of the world. At that time, I just finished high school studies and now I can only remember the well-known essayist Jeremy Rifkin who presented the thesis of his latest work, “The European Dream”. Bored by the conferences, I fled with a friend to visit the Castello Sforzesco. We had a main objective: the Rondanini Pietà.

Napoleon III sculpture sempione milan

The museum complex inside the castle offers numerous artistic masterpieces and the Pietà Rondanini has particular charm. This is the last work of Michelangelo Buonarroti, perhaps the most famous sculptor in history. Michelangelo died in 1564 at the age of 89. During his long career, Michelangelo represented Renaissance idealism, sculpting works such as David on Carrara marble.

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Over the years, the artist was unable to finish most of his work. Although Michelangelo worked on the Rondanini Pietà for more than ten years, the work remained incomplete. If you look carefully, the sculpture does not look like a piece of work of the sixteenth century, but a modern design. As if Michelangelo, when he was in his eighties, had glimpsed the art of the twentieth century.

The other museums

We also visited the other rooms that were full of armours and weapons, as well as the art gallery. Two paintings particularly impressed us: the portraits of the saints painted by Antonello da Messina and the wonderful views of Venice made by Canaletto. The art gallery also contains other paintings made by important painters such as Filippino Lippi, Tiziano and Mantegna.

door sforzesco castle milan italy

The museums of the castle are open all the year from 10:00 am to 05:30 pm. The closing days are every Monday, as well as Christmas, January 1st and May 1st. The ticket is unique for all museums and costs € 5 (the ticket office closes at 04:30 pm). Admission is free on the first and third Tuesday of the month (starting at 02 pm) and every first Sunday of the month for the whole day.

Visitare il Parco

Between art and relax

The park area has a historical and cultural value. The universal exhibition of 1906 was held here. Subsequently, the Palazzo dell’Arte Bernocchi was chosen to host the triennial art exhibitions. Today the building organizes exhibitions of contemporary art and is home to the Triennale Design Museum (TDM). The exhibits open from 11:00 am to 08:00 pm. The closing day is Monday. Admission prices vary according to the exhibitions.

bench light shadow park sempione

My wife and I visited Parco Sempione together. The photos refer to our first visit to Milan. Even we had tight time schedule, we couldn’t miss Parco Sempione. We were enchanted by the charm of walking the avenues of the green lung of the city, where the Milanese fled from the heat at the beginning of September. We witnessed a cross-section of Milanese society, between those who jogged and those who took the sun.

Dama nera (Black Lady)

The Milanese have been telling a story since the nineteenth century. The Milanese say that a black lady sometimes wanders around the park at dusk. Accompanied by the scent of violets, the lady appears dressed in black with a hood covering her face. She wanders through the park’s avenues, especially near the pond, as if she wanted to watch the sunset in the water. According to some stories, the lady is shy and reserved. Whenever a curious person approaches, she disappears for a few days.

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According to other versions, curious people who approach the lady fall into a kind of trance. The black lady leads the curious people to a villa inside the park where she dances with them in the light of candelabra. It is said that among the rooms of the villa, you can also see an open coffin where the corpse of a beautiful black-haired girl rests. Someone tells that the brave people who want to look at the black lady in the face realize that her hood hides a terrifying skeleton.

chain park sempione milan italy

The unfortunates, finding themselves in front of the skeleton, fall into an even deeper trance. They wake up only much later, somewhere in the park. Since nineteen century, people have searched for the mysterious villa of the black lady, without success. As far as we have wandered in the park, we have not met the lady. Perhaps, we should have visited it at sunset.

Written by Enrico, Translated by Hua and Photo from Hua

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