Something like 566 years after its foundation, the Sforza Castle – Castello Sforzesco in Italian – is one of the Milan’s must see, with stories to tell and art to show.
Sforza Castle: from fortress to museum
The story of the Sforza Castle is a troubled one. A previous fortress built by the Visconti family between 1358 and 1370 laid in the same place, but it was destroyed by the rebellion which brought to the raise of the Golden Ambrosian Republic.
The milanese republic had a short life: the revolutionary experience was destroyed by another noble family: the Sforzas. In 1450 Francesco I Sforza (1450 – 1466) started the works for the reconstruction of the castle
The first main piece of work was the Torre del Filarete, designed by the architect Antonio di Pietro Averlino “il Filarete” (an Italian rendition of a Greek expression meaning “lover of Excellence”, “lover of virtue”). Galeazzo Maria, Francesco Sforza’s son, continued the works and in 1476 the Duchess on Milan, Bona of Savoy, get her own personal tower in the Castle.
With Ludovico the wealth and power of the Sforzas reach the peak: Milan is as vibrant and opulent as Medicis’ Florence, and from Florence Leonardo comes to work for Ludovico, in the Sforza Castle too.
A generation later, but, the Sforzas are in deep trouble, and their castle as well. Francis I of France in 1515 chases the defeated army of Maximilian Sforza back to Milan, threatening to blow up the castle. The “troubles” will go on for a long while: Spanish rulers, Napoleon… Finally, after the reunification of Italy, the Castello Sforzesco begins what it still is: the historic center of a beautiful and beloved park.
Nowadays the Sforza Castle is a “museum of museums”: the Arts Library, the Canvas Cabinet, the Archeological Museum and, above all, the Michelangelo’s Rondanini Pietà.