Not your average graveyard, the Cimitero Monumentale is the final resting-place for the city’s most illustrious inhabitants and one of the most culturally revealing places to see in Milan. It was built in 1866 on a vast 250,000m2 estate filled with a dark, eerie forest of fir trees, and only supremely wealthy families and famous writers, artists and musicians are commemorated here.
rnThe imposing Romanesque Memorial Chapel in a large open courtyard reveals none of the melodrama in the ornamental gardens behind, where life-size copper statues of bereft damsels are dramatically draped over their loved ones’ graves, while statues of angels keep guard over others.
rnFrom the turn of the century, Milanese families appropriated permanent plots which led to grand-scale one-upmanship with ostentatious displays of wealth, religiousness and love. Elaborate mausoleums like mini-houses present a veritable timeline of Milan’s social and architectural history, with an emphasis on Art Nouveau. The Campari family tomb is a replica relief of the Last Supper; the Branca drinks dynasty is also buried here, as are the novelist Manzoni, conductor Toscanini and poet Quasimodo.