Indulge a collector's passion at one of Milan's finest house museums.
Collecting art has been a passion of the wealthy for hundreds of years and the best of benefactors then leave their magnificent collections to the benefit of the general public. The 17th-century palace was bought by Giuseppe Pezzoli at the end of the 18th century. He commissioned architect Simone Cantoni to give it a Neo-classical makeover with an English-style interior garden. But the real fun began 50 years later when his descendant, Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli got the collector’s red mist and commissioned the architect Giuseppe Balzaretto and interior designers Luigi Scrosati and Giuseppe Bertini to redesign his apartment in varying styles – Baroque, Medieval, Early Renaissance and Rococo – to house his beloved collections and the art collection of his wife, Rosa Trivulzio.
Over his lifetime, these passionate squirrels created a magnificent museum containing works by Botticelli, Mantegna, Piero della Francesca, along with lace and diamonds, gold and silver jewellery, Flemish and Persian carpets, tapestries, bronzes and weapons. The fabulously opulent house was first opened to the public in 1881 during the Milanese National Exhibition and became a model for house museums around the world. The building was badly bomb-damaged in 1939 although the contents were safely stored elsewhere. Now restored to a slightly paler shadow of its former glory, modern collectors have continued to donate objects, from Japanese netsuke to a Raphael painting.