Strange, I know, but the Cimitero Monumentale was the first place I wanted to visit in Milan! As one of the two largest Milanese cemeteries for the most renowned and respected citizens, it is littered with outstandingly grand, artistic tombs and monuments. Completed in 1866, the cemetery really is a monumental sight to behold and a must see when visiting Milan. You can book your tour here!
An extravagant cemetery
A peaceful walk past the hauntingly beautiful tombs and through the gardens makes for a calming cultural escape from the busy city centre.
The main entrance is through the Famedio, a huge Hall of Fame-style building made of marble and stone, containing the graves of some of the city’s highly-honoured citizens.
It was clear that Alessandro Manzoni was of high importance, because he has a raised tomb in his very own resting area in a beautifully designed hall. He was an Italian poet, novelist and philosopher, who was famous for the novel The Betrothed. Therefore, he is ranked among the masterpieces of world literature; view his tomb below in the video and gallery.
Cimitero Monumentale is decorated with a range of contemporary and classical Italian sculptures. In addition, there are Greek temples and other original works, including a scaled-down version of the Trajan’s Column; a pillar that commemorates Roman emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars.
Check out my video below to view some of the fabulously flamboyant family tombs and monuments. It was incredible to see a long, empty hole in which the bodies are concealed inside the walls… Also, a circular ceiling work of art named the architects and artists that assisted in its construction, including Leonardo da Vinci.
A picture speaks a thousand words, so view the images from my gallery below. A few of the garden tombs show saddened angels and forlorn figures drowning in misery. However, not all of the statues were upsetting. There were chiselled cheeks on children, a happy bald bloke looking like he was reveling in his riches, a naked pilot holding Medusa’s head…
Fascinating pieces of art, all of them, but I have no idea how to interpret these people’s lives or, indeed, their death. Did they have a say in how their gravestones would be created? Is this a reenacted scene of how they died or how they’d like to be remembered? Likewise, do these intriguing gravestones portray how they lived their life or how they wish they’d lived it? Perhaps we are left to interpret them how we wish – I thoroughly enjoyed doing so!
In short, this is a great way to spend a few hours in city of Milan – for free! I spent an hour and a half observing the atmospheric graveyard on my own. Although, I could easily have spent double here if I’d walked at a slower pace and studied the graves in more detail. Or, if you want to learn as you look, book a tour on GetYourGuide here or click on the options below!
If you liked the sound of this, find more inspiring touristic spots in my Top 3 places to visit in Milan post!