Entrusted to FAI on a loan-for-use basis by Milan City Council in 2015
In 1796, French troops led by Napoleon invaded Milan, marking the start of a short but intense period in the political and civil history of the city that saw it at the centre of grandiose plans intended to endow it with a cultured metropolitan dimension worthy of a capital city. The architecture, too, was called upon to meet this requirement for transformative change, with projects that would celebrate the magnificence of Napoleonic power. The planning of the extensive area around the Sforza Castle became emblematic of this overhaul: the area was conceived as a great place-of-arms, complete with its own triumphal arch – the Arch of Peace – and an arena for public spectacles, designed in 1805 by Luigi Canonica on the model of the ancient Roman circuses.
Today, the Arena Civica is one of the few remaining pieces of architecture still bearing witness to the ambitious scale of the plans laid out by Napoleon, who wanted to include an official gallery for his public appearances. A loggia was thus designed, featuring monumental classical forms and facing out onto the amphitheatre. It was contained within a building characterised by simple, compact lines, with a colonnaded, Neoclassical facade overlooking the park. Internally, the hall of honour (salone d’onore) is embellished by marble and crystal, and plays host to a continuous frieze that evokes the triumphal processions depicted in the bas-reliefs of Imperial Rome, painted in the style of the Neoclassical painter Andrea Appiani, from whom the Palazzina takes its name. FAI opens the property to the public, with guided tours and special events, often aimed at children, in order to enable everyone to discover and enjoy a Neoclassical jewel immersed in the greenery of a historic part of Milan.
The Palazzina Appiani re-opens to the public on Friday, 16 February, 2018, and thereafter will have the following opening hours:
Line MM2 Moskva or Lanza stations; then 10 minutes on foot.
Line 12-14, Bramante Lega Lombarda stop.
Line 43-57: Viale Elvezia (Arena) stop.
Contributions gratefully received.
Disabled visitors can access free-of-charge those FAI properties that are open to the public by showing their ANMIC (Associazione Nazionale Mutilati e Invalidi Civili) card.