A graveyard in Milan, Italy that, ironically, brings to life the beauty in sorrow and peace.
Italy is the birthplace of Renaissance. There is so much art everywhere that you’ll probably get a nose-bleed from all the sculptural, pictorial and architectural brilliance. Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Giotto, Bernini, Caravaggio, Botticelli, Lippi, Bellini, Bronzino, the vowel-ending names of geniuses trail you where ever you go.
If you are looking to take a break from the selfie-crazed, tourist-crammed must-dos of the Italian greats, I recommend the Cimitero Monumentale di Milanoor Monumental Cemetery.
I can’t say that this vast garden cemetery is not filled with people. But most of those are dead and buried, so it becomes pretty much yours to stroll through. The access to the graves is past the large Famedio, a massive Hall of Fame-like Neo-Medieval style building made of marble and stone. Beyond awaits a dreamy, floaty atmosphere of the cemetery and a divine quiet that’s occasionally embellished by chirping birds or the snap of a twig under your feet.
You will immediately realize that this is not just a cemetery. It’s a 2,50,000 sq. mtr open-air museum with treasures of dramatic art on countless graves.
There are strong emotional portrayals of those laid to rest; powerful grim reapers, proud busts, heartbroken angels and mourning widows strewn on the graves of those gone forever.
Some of the sculptures are so life-like, it appears as if they were people at the grave for so long, paralysed by grief, that they were frozen by time.
Like all the art I saw in the museums, churches and piazzas in Italy, there is a class to the pieces, the grave the canvas of the artists. How one died, who he died with and at what age, are common theme inspirations. The wealth of the family influenced the grandeur of the art. ‘Loss’ being the common theme on campus, expressions of biblical figures and the bodies of stricken family members still hold an aura of sorrow or restfulness. I almost felt like putting my hand of the shoulder of a lady to comfort her or joining a winged cherub in a prayer for the departed.
The Cimitero Monumentale di Milano is one of the largest cemeteries of Milan. Its abundance of artistic tombs and monuments are a showcase of different artistic influences ranging from Greek temples to neo-medieval and contemporary art. Designed by the architect Carlo Maciachini and opened in 1866, I can’t help but think that talented sculptors who didn’t make the big league of vowel-ending artists, were applying themselves here.
The cemetery is a historical record of Milan’s art, architecture and its illustrious citizens. It comprises of several tombs of noted industrialists, famous writers, artists and politicians, and also more surprising ones, such as the father of Albert Einstein.
Among the many beautiful pieces of cemetery art is the striking Tower-of-Babel-like tomb of the industrialist family Bernocchi and The Last Supper version of the Campari family.
In the midst of the heavy exclaims and the escaping sighs, the flung arms and the despair, the biggest tragedy to me is that the person to whom the art is dedicated will never set eyes on it.
Things to know before you go
Monumental Cemetery of Milan
Tuesday to Sunday [Monday closed]
930am - 5pm
No entrance fee. Entry is permitted 30 minutes before closing time.
Guided tours - Call 02 884 45706 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to get there
The cemetery is located about 2.5 km north of the center.
Take tram: 2, 4, 7, (stop Farini), 12 and 14 (stop Bramante)
or Bus: 37 (stop Monumental) 70 (stop Farini) 94 (stop Porta Volta).
Closest metro - Garibaldi Metro station, but it's a bit of a walk.