Milan and its Architecture: Via Montebello

Ca’ Brutta by Giovanni Muzio
Giovanni Muzio, Ca’ Brutta, 1919-22, Milan. Photo: studio wok architetti associati

In Milan, as in most other Italian cities, it is enough to just take a look around you to discover something you’d never noticed before: it happens to me often when I step out of my gallery in via Montebello.

Although this part of the city has its fair share of older architecture, its overall character is distinctly modern. Between via Turati and via della Moscova, to take one example, you find Giovanni Muzio’s Ca’ Brutta: a monumental complex that takes up an entire city block and yet exudes an air of lightness. The convex facade and heterogeneous variety of windows give it the appearance of a theatre set.

A short walk away, in corso di Porta Nuova, you find the Angelicum, another Muzio design, all in red brick and very similar to the architect’s Palazzo della Triennale. The building’s various blocks are connected by pilasters topped by round arches, a motif typical of Italian architecture from this period, one example being EUR in Rome, and evoked in Giorgio de Chirico’s Piazze d’Italia.

Gio Ponti also left his mark in this quarter, designing the two Montecatini buildings on via Turati. While inspired by a Rationalist lexicon, they have an all-Italian elegance difficult to find in other European cities.

Sometimes, if traffic permits, it is worth looking up – you really won’t regret it!

Gio Ponti, Montecatini Buildings, 1936-51, Milan. © Gio Ponti Archives

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