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Hidden Museum Gems of Milan and Siena


leonardo codex select italy Hidden Museum Gems of Milan and Siena

Inside the leonardo codex museum

It is not a secret that Milan is home to the legendary Last Supper painting and Siena boasts the exhilarating Palio event, but there are so many other attractions and masterpieces of these cities, lying in the background, waiting to be discovered. Veer off the beaten path on your next visit to Siena or Milan and discover the lesser-known but equally fascinating treasures with our two new museum passes.

Leonardo’s Codex Atlanticus Pass

Although many travel to catch a glimpse of its famous neighbor, The Last Supper, the former Dominican Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, now a fascinating museum, is a hidden gem sought out only by those in the know. The Renaissance church was partially rebuilt by Leonardo’s colleague, Donato Bramante, to house the tombs of Duke Ludovico Sforza and his family. Bramante’s frescoed and vaulted Sacristy has now been restored as an exhibition space in homage to extraordinary Renaissance greats.

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Da Vinci’s renowned “Portrait of a Musician”

Situated on the other side of the refractory wall of the infamous Last Supper, the building holds a treasure in its Biblioteca Ambrosiana. The Leonardo Codex, written by Leonardo and comprised of 1,119 individual sheets of parchment, is no longer bound as a book, but pages of the scratching and notes ranging in subject from flight to musical instruments to botany to astronomy are rotated every four months so that guests can appreciate the artist’s multifaceted interests. In addition, the museum holds other Leonardo pieces in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, such as the Portrait of a Musician. Raphael, Botticelli, Titian, and Caravaggio also have notable works on display in the Bramante Sacristy.

Just a five-minute walk from Milan’s Duomo, this sacred monastery allows knowledgeable tourists to get a precious authentic glimpse into the real Leonardo da Vinci and his contemporaries. Advanced tickets for your visit to Leonardo’s Codex Atlanticus Combo Pass are now available with one easy click online.

Siena Cathedral Complex Pass

The splendor of Siena is not to miss, and there is finally a single ticket for visitors to follow an unforgettable itinerary through sites clustered around Siena’s immense Gothic cathedral. The new Siena Cathedral Complex Pass  is valid for three days and includes entrance to monuments in the heart of the medieval city – all with prepaid tickets and no waiting in line!

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The Siena Cathedral Museum pass offers you entrance into the stunning cathedral as well as surrounding museums.

The Duomo, Siena’s cathedral, is at the heart of the museums included in the pass, and is a prized collection of Tuscan art that displays statues by Donatello, Michelangelo, and Bernini. Its Piccolomini Library, painted by Pinturicchio in 1509, is a charming Renaissance fairytale with colorful frescoes from the life of Pope Pius – even the cathedral’s 14,000 square foot inlaid marble floor is a work of art. After the Duomo, wander through its Crypt, a bit misleading in the name, since no bodies have yet been found, but full of beautifully preserved blue, gold, and burgundy frescoes painted by an unidentified artist between 1270 and 1275. The Baptistery of San Giovanni lies down a steep flight of steps from the Duomo and displays a bronze and marble baptismal font, the utmost expression of Early Renaissance sculpture on which Jacopo della Quercia, Donatello and Lorenzo Ghiberti all worked.

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The ornate baptistry of St. John in Siena

Museo dell’Opera’s history reaches back to an ambitious project to build a larger cathedral in the 14th century that was quickly halted by the plague. One side of the unfinished nave was eventually roofed over and now houses the museum, dedicated to spectacular art, including the largest altarpiece ever painted. End your visit with a climb up to the panoramic terrace of the unfinished Duomo, called the Facciatone (literally, the “big face”), from which you will witness the most fascinating and unforgettable bird’s-eye view over Siena and the Tuscan countryside. The pass also includes the Oratory of San Bernardino, a small building that constitutes an extraordinary art complex of sixteenth-century Siena.

Whether you are visiting the city for the monumental Palio event or just stopping through on your way to or from Florence, take advantage of the Siena Cathedral Combo Pass, which allows you to skip the lines at these museums and sites as well as offers a great value, generating savings of 50% on the cost of the single admissions.

Which one of these tours will you choose? Let us know!

About the Author: Martina

An Italian American who is proud of my heritage, I love all things Italy and can't get enough of learning about and sharing the food, culture, history and people - especially the food and wine! I have lived and researched in multiple Italian cities and traveled up and down the Boot, but my heart belongs to Rome and I am fairly certain that I was meant to have been born Roman. At Select Italy I work as the Food and Wine Specialist. Follow me on Twitter @MartiZuc



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