Courtyards always used to be attractive to me.
To sneak in the lit up by the sun inner ground, to smell the mysterious aroma mixture of:
a) onion and tomato dish that is being prepared for lunch
b) the mould from the dark humid walls
c) freshly laundry let to airdry
d) a sewer
e) something greenish, flourish coming from a huge rose bush or hydrangeas, (if in Bulgaria – wild geranium)
and to try to imagine for a second how the life of the current inhabitans looks like only by catching pieces of their conversations.
Perhaps there is no better way to get to know the neighbourhood!
Being fascinated with urban explorations of this character I was pleased to follow the Cortili Aperti event of ADSI, the Italian organisation taking care of historical buildings in Brera this weekend. For a twenty first time ten buildings in Via Borgonuovo, Via Fiori Oscuri and Via Brera opened doors and let visitors in their noble courtyards.
Considering the fact that via Borgonuovo stays in between the fashion and the artistic heart of the city of Milan I could only imagine what kind of hidden gems could be seen, encompassed with at-first-side-modest residence walls.
Under number 5 in Via Borgonuovo I took my time to hide from the afternoon sun under the dark green arbour in the backyard of Palazzo Orsini di Roma which nowadays is a property of the Italian fashion house Armani. The original idea of the impressive in size mansion of familia Orsini was to express the prestige of the family. No doubt the plan was accomplished although it took several centuries.
Palazzo Landriani in Via Borgonuovo 25 (today the Academy of Science and Arts) was announced as the oldest building in the street and respectively, the most prominent example of Renaissance architecture of Milan. What was drawing the attention of all the visitors once passing the threshold was the antique well in the centre of the courtyard, decorated with pastoral scenes. What I enjoyed the most in Palazzo Landriani was the chance to have a look in the rooms of the ground floor. Getting closer to the window one could notice an entrance towards the library of the academy, revealing large romantic bookshelves and reading tables.
On the other side of the street, under number 24 I found a new entry for my list of favourite houses in Milan. Casa Valerio used to be owned by Visconti counts until the end of the 18 century. Besides changes in the ownership, renovations and restorations a peaceful courtyard with three spans of columns, gently wrapped in ivy, was waiting for the visitors to lead them to an inner garden. In contrast with the lacking threes and green areas street, Casa Valerio had a real park inside: with pebble stone alleys, wooden benches and tiny patios with tables where I could easily imagine the residents of the house having their morning coffee rituals.