Whether you are an estimator of religious art or not, San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore is a must-see in Milan.
Let me state the obvious: the Catholic Church has had a massive impact on Italian art and culture – to the point that almost every memorable historical site throughout Italy is churches, chapels or religious buildings, and everywhere you go there’s something memorable to see, but this is something different.
It’s not uncommon to find churches that are divided into two sections, usually one for the noble and the clergy, and one for commoners, but there was a different kind of “division” here. In fact, from the early 16th century to the early 19th century, San Maurizio was the home of cloistered nuns, who could only pray in the back of the monastery. For no reason could they go outside: they were only able to talk to their parents or receive the holy communion through two very small hatch windows on given occasions.
Thanks to a huge restoration, San Maurizio returned to its original splendor in 2015. The vaults in the back are just gorgeous, and the frescos by Bernardino Luini depicting outdoor landscapes really make you wonder, especially now that we know what a lockdown really is about.
Some call San Maurizio, a church that even hosts classical music concerts, “Milan’s Sistine Chapel”: I often take visitors here on my walking tours as a Greeter and people agree, it truly is a monastery of astonishing beauty.