Milan’s Coolest Shortcut

June 5, 2014 / Local Interest
Milano, Lombardia

Here’s another note on Milan, the beautiful city that is the setting of our recently published gastronomic murder mystery, The Revenge of the Milanese Butcher! (Take a look, and if you’ve already bought a copy, please be sure to leave a review, thanks!) These notes are all related to the book in one way or another. We hope you enjoy them!

Often the Milanese will use the Castello as a shortcut to get from Largo Cairoli to Piazza Sempione. Rightly so… instead of walking around it (it’s enormous), they take the path right through it.

You enter through the Filarete Tower into the huge main courtyard, Piazza d’Armi, cross over and walk through a covered portico towards the Cortile della Rocchetta on your left and with the Corte Ducale (Ducal court) on your right.

Filarete Tower of Castello Sforzesco, MIlan
Main Courtyard, Piazza d'Armi of Castello Sforzesco, Milan
Following the path through the Piazza d'Armi courtyard of Castello Sforzesco

If you don’t get distracted with the elephant fresco (far left hand corner of the Corte Ducale) at the entrance of the Civic Museum, or decide to go inside in search of Leonardo’s affresco in the Sala delle Asse (Hall of Planks), which consists of a painted vault looking like an outside pergola (1498), you come out on the other side of the castle and cross the outer moat into Parco Sempione, catching a glimpse of the impressive fortress walls and the torrioni angolari quadrati– square angular towers.

Cortile Ducale of Castello Sforzesco, Milan
Elephant fresco in the Corte Ducale, Castello Sforzesco

It wasn’t always a Milanese short cut, however. Originally the Signoria dei Visconti (the house / reign of the Visconti) originally built the castle in 1368 as a fortress. Later on in 1450 with the new Sforzesco dynasty, Francesco Sforza rebuilt it transforming it into a splendid ducal palace.

The Visconti preferred Gothic architectural design, but the Sforza promoted the new Renaissance style, of which the Castello Sforzesco is a great example. And if you’re going to take a short cut and in a hurry, you may as well soak up all the Renaissance style and impressive courtyards you can get.

Remember… the Castello Sforzesco and other unique places, history and secrets about Milan in our gastronomic murder mystery The Revenge of the Milanese Butcher, ItalianNotebook Press, available on Amazon.

White path of the short cut through Castello Sforzesco, Milan

Piazza Castello and the Filarete Tower of Castello Sforzesco, Milan


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

3 Responses to “Milan’s Coolest Shortcut”

  1. Joan Schmelzle

    Don’t really know how many times I have visited the Castello over 50+ years. It is a do not miss place for me every time I spend a couple of days in Milan. However, I don’t think I have ever found the elephant. Next time I will find it.


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