Salone del Mobile is that special occasion when historical buildings open their doors to the public for striking displays and memorable events dedicated to design. Be introduced to Palazzo Litta, Palazzo Bovara, Palazzo Serbelloni and Villa Necchi Campiglio, four of the most beautiful buildings in Milan that exclusively offer the opportunity to discover a more private side of the city.
During the Milan Design Week, one of the most anticipated events is Palazzo Litta’s. The reasons are many. First, because you can see many new design collections by design studios (well-established ones as well as emerging creative studios) under one roof. Second, because you can take time and visit the palace, built in the 1600s in the Saint Ambrose neighbourhood, one of Milan’s oldest, most charming areas. You can get lost walking in the main courtyard, which house a huge installation every year, as well as other small but equally beautiful and interesting ones. But the great surprise is when you take the big stairway and walk through the many rooms all decorated with precious frescoes on the main door. The masterpiece is the large room called Salone degli Specchi, characterised by large mirrors with carved frames on the walls, and ceiling painted by Giovanni Antonio Cucchi with a trompe-l’oeil of windows, balconies which open onto an azure sky.
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Located in the heart of Milan, on Corso Venezia, Palazzo Bovara is one of Lombardy’s most important neoclassical palaces. Built in the second half of the 18th century from a design by Felice Soave, it gained its fame as the location of the French embassy during the Napoleonic period. Many important people from that period stopped by Palazzo Bovara, like a very young Stendhal, who fell in love with the palace and the city. Today, this building hosts design exhibitions every year, and it’s very nice the visit the main door, the courtyard and to take a sneak peek at its secret garden (which used to be famous for its size). The simple, but interesting architecture features many characteristics of Milanese neoclassical architecture: the entrance for example is centered on the façade of the building, enclosed between two Doric columns surmounted by the balustraded balcony on the main oor. Nowadays, Palazzo Bovara is the home of the Union of Trade, Tourism, Services and Professions of the Province of Milan. Don’t miss its monumental stairway and its frescoed ceilings.
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In Milan downtown one of the best palaces that is worth a visit during the Salone del Mobile is Palazzo Serbelloni. Legend has it that the family who owned this neoclassical palace used to host very important people, like Napoleone Bonaparte, Pietro Verri, Giuseppe Parini, the prince of Metternich and Napoleone III. The main rooms boasts precious masterpieces, like Canova sculptures, Velasquez paintings, Sèvres and Chinese porcelains and rare Murano crystal lights. Today you can see the well-preserved style and richness of the palace in the atrium, decorated with a trompe-l’oeil fresco, and in its large rooms on the first floor that host design events during the Salone del Mobile.
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Villa Necchi Campiglio
If you love the 1950s style, don’t miss Villa Necchi Campiglio, another artistic pearl in downtown Milan. Immersed in an ample private garden with a swimming pool and tennis court, it was built in 1935 by architect Piero Portaluppi. The Necchi Campiglio family was part of the rich and elegant middle class of industrial Milan during the 1930s. And the interior spaces reflects the traditional layout of noble homes, with daytime areas on the ground floor, bedrooms on the first floor and service rooms in the attic and basement. In addition, the owner wanted to create lots of space for entertaining guests, from the dining room and smoking room, to the library and grand salon. Today, Villa Necchi Campiglio is part of FAI Foundation, and is the special venue for different types of events during the Salone del Mobile. A curious detail of the architecture: you can see a star on the main façade of the building. It is the window of one of the bathrooms on the first floor and the artistic symbol of architect Portaluppi.
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