Cultural aspects of Italy

Museum Boschi-Di Stefano: masterpieces in Milan

In Milan, the former private residence of the family Boschi-Di Stefano has been transformed in a museum featuring important 20th century masterpieces by famous Italian artists such as Giorgio De Chirico and Mario Sironi.
Located at number 15, Via Giorgio Jan, in Milan, the museum has been open to the public since February 2003.

In these premises – once inhabited by the couple Antonio Boschi (1896-1988) and Marieda Di Stefano (1901-1968) – about three-hundred paintings and other masterpieces are exhibited, curated from over two thousand 20th century items donated to the City of Milan in 1974 by the Boschi-Di Stefano family.

The collection – which comprises paintings, sculptures and drawings – is an extraordinary testimony to the history of Twentieth Century Italian art from the first decade to the end of the Sixties.

The Museum is located in a small block built in the Nineteen Thirties by the architect Piero Portaluppi. The interiors, restored by the City of Milan, were furnished by the Boschi Di Stefano Foundation, established in 1998.

All items on display have been selected on the basis of their quality and arranged in chronological order in eleven exhibition areas whose furnishings – such as the dining room designed by Mario Sironi in 1936 – were chosen for their historical relevance.

Casa-Museo Boschi Di Stefano
The Boschi Di Stefano Museum-Home before the Museum of the Twentieth Century opened in 2010
Antonio and Marieda Boschi Di Stefano collected over two thousand masterpieces during their lives out of their passion for art. About three hundred of these have been selected for their quality and distributed in chronological order in the eleven exhibition areas of the Boschi Di Stefano Museum.
There are portraits of Boschi and Di Stefano at the entrance, with pottery by Marieda herself. From there, a corridor featuring canvases by Severini and Boccioni takes visitors to the “Twentieth Century Italian Room”, with works by Funi, Marussig, Tozzi, Carrà and Casorati. The “Sironi Room”, dedicated to that artist, also contains sculptures by Arturo Martini.
The next room contains seven works by Morandi and six by De Pisis.
 In a small corridor, one can admire a de Chirico painting: La scuola dei gladiatori (1928).
In his will, Antonio Boschi stipulated that the via Jan apartment, where he and Marieda had lived for so long, be opened to the public as a museum, hosting a selection of works from their collection. For reasons of security and conservation it was impossible to preserve intact “an inhabited museum” whose “spaces, outfitting and furnishings seem almost overwhelmed by the works of art”.
Only a few pieces were retained – among these a small table designed by Piero Portaluppi, and the Bechstein piano – consequently the Boschi Di Stefano Foundation arranged to purchase the necessary replacement furniture, chosen to match the period of the building and with the works displayed.  
Gli arredi
Photo: Václav Šedý
  “Agena” ceiling light of the Galassia collection by Alessandro Mendini, produced by Venini in 1993, installed in the former master bedroom of the Boschi Di Stefanos.
Photo: Václav Šedý
Gli arredi
Free entrance.
Reservations needed for groups of 18 or larger.

Emperor Nero in Rome: restored house opens

The restoration work site of Nero’s house in Rome, the Domus Aurea, now open to the public. You can visit upon appointment for a limited period of time.

After the fire of 64 a.D., which destroyed the greater part of the center of Rome, Emperor Nero had a new residence built with walls covered by rare varieties of marble and vaults decorated with gold and precious stones. The house was so glittering so as to earn the name of Domus Aurea (Golden House).

Frescoes in the Domus Aurea from Wikipedia

Frescoes in the Domus Aurea from Wikipedia

Built of brick and concrete, the extensive gold leaf that gave the villa its name was not the only extravagant element of its decor: stuccoed ceilings were faced with semi-precious     stones and ivory veneers, while the walls were frescoed, coordinating the decoration into different themes in each major group of rooms.

Nero's Domus Aurea from Wikipedia

Nero’s Domus Aurea from Wikipedia

  The Golden House was designed as a place of entertainment: there were 300 rooms but no sleeping quarter.

No kitchens or latrines have been  discovered.

The enormous complex included vast vineyards, pastures and woods, an artificial lake, treasures  looted from the Orient.

It was embellished by precious ornaments, such as a gigantic statue of the Emperor in the  robes of the Sun God.  At the death of Nero, his successors tried to bury every trace of the Palace.

The luxurious halls were spoiled of  the marbles and of of the sculptures and were filled with earth up to the the vaults; upon them the large Baths of  Titus and Baths of Trajan were built and in the underlying valley the Colosseum was erected.

The lavish fresco and stucco decorations of the Domus Aureas remained hidden until the Renaissance when some artists passionate about antiquities, including Raphael, entered into what they thought were caves and began to copy the ornamental motifs of the vaults; thus the decorations were called grotesques (from the Italian word grottesca, grotta being the Italian for cave).

Recently the Domus Aurea work site was reopened to the public after many years of being closed because of collapsed structures.

Visiting the work site will be possible on weekends  from 9:15 am to 3:45 pm upon appointment: call 01139 06 3996 7700 or visit:

The restoration is still in progress, paid for – in part – by the Italian company Sky Arte HD, which is also trying to raise more money for the works through crowdfunding. They need about 31 million Euro to restore the garden above the structure, which has been damaged by water infiltration.

In my opinion, visiting the Domus Aurea alone is worth a trip to Rome.


Statue in the Domus Aurea

Statue in the Domus Aurea from Wikipedia