What happens when you have two noble Italian brothers with eclectic tastes who decide to build a mansion in the heart of what is now Milan’s most fashionable area? You get Museo Bagatti Valsecchi, a Milan museum that is bursting with curiosities and designed to impress.
With a coveted address in Montenapoleone, the palatial residence was once the home of two Barons – Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi.
The brothers decided to renovate their family’s noble home in the 1880s. And even though they were living in the 19th century, they shared a dream of recreating the aristocratic grandeur of 16th-century mansions.
To get just the right feel, the Baronial pair set to work collecting 15th and 16th-century decorative arts for an authentic, antique touch.
That means that even though Museo Bagatti Valsecchi began as a home, its interior decor has long had a museum-like quality to it.
It even comes complete with an arms gallery, that greets visitors as soon as they climb the grand staircase to the main floor.
From armor to Renaissance paintings by students of Da Vinci, the brothers collected objects to fill the many rooms of their dream home.
It can be hard to know where to look when you first step into a new room.
From the palazzo floors to the elaborate ceilings, no detail is accidental.
Wandering the rooms gives you a taste of life in Milan that is very different from the 20th-century feel of Casa Museo Boschi di Stefano, another excellent house museum in the city.
Heirs of the brothers continued to live in this quirky palace until 1974 when the family created a foundation that eventually made it possible to open the doors of the museum to the public.
How to Explore Museo Bagatti Valsecchi
The Bagatti Valsecchi Museum is small but absolutely brimming with unique artifacts. To help guide visitors, the museum has developed a free app that can be used to navigate the non-traditional collection and the interesting architectural details. It also functions as a virtual tour for those who cannot visit in person but still want to interact with the collection.
For those who prefer an in-person guided tour – that is also free at Museo Bagatti Valsecchi. There are monthly guided visits arranged every month. However, be sure to reserve because the spots are limited.
Finally, you can pick up a wordless brochure when you purchase your tickets at the counter just inside the door. The small booklet is comprised entirely of close up images and the aim is to encourage you to seek out the details in each of the rooms.
This was exactly what I did when I visited the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum with Doing Italy (Thea is known for creating these kinds of unforgettable Italian experiences).
Not to brag, but Girl in Florence (along with her charming husband) and I totally crushed this visual scavenger hunt!
All of these make the €9 entrance fee a total steal for a truly Milanese experience.
Museo Bagatti Valsecchi
Via Gesù, 5
Phone: +39 02 7600.6132
Open: Tuesday – Sunday from 1 pm to 5:45 pm. Closed Monday.
Ready to get on a plane and go? Here’s how to get from Malpensa Airport to Milan so that you don’t waste any time!