BASILICA OF SANT'EUSTORGIO, Portinari Chapel

Audio File length: 3.14
Author: STEFANO ZUFFI E DAVIDE TORTORELLA
English / USA Language: English / USA

The Portinari Chapel is a jewel of fifteenth-century Milanese art. It's named after Pigello Portinari, who had the chapel built and is buried inside. Portinari was the Milan branch manager of a major Florentine bank, Banco Mediceo. It is no coincidence, then, that the chapel offers a lovely balance between geometric Tuscan simplicity and decorative Lombard taste.

 

The tour begins with the first cloister, which dates back to when the basilica was the site of a Dominican convent. The remains of the second cloister and other rooms can be admired in the rich collections of the Diocesan Museum. If you go along the corridor after the ticket office and down a small flight of stairs, you can see the remains of an ancient cemetery with tombs and graves of the Romans and first Christians of Mediolanum, the ancient name of Milan.

Now pause the audio and go into the monumental sacristy.

 

You are in the monumental sacristy: as you can see, these large walnut cabinets keep sacred furnishings, containers of relics, and other objects including sacred vestments that Saint Carlo Borromeo wore when he made his solemn entrance in Milan as an archbishop.

Now pause the audio and go to the Portinari Chapel.

 

You are finally in the Portinari Chapel: the proportions and elegant geometry of the building are inspired by the models of the great Tuscan sculptor and architect Filippo Brunelleschi. Admire the magnificent rainbow of colors, especially those decorating the inside of the dome.

 

These splendid fifteenth-century frescoes are the most important painting complex carried out in Milan before Leonardo da Vinci's time. Here the great Lombard painter Vincenzo Foppa has poetically and grandiosely told the story of the lives of the Virgin Mary and the martyr St. Peter of Verona, an illustrious figure of the Dominican order.

 

At the chapel's center stands the spectacular tomb of St. Peter the Martyr, an absolute masterpiece of Gothic sculpture in Milan. The eight figures holding the tomb depict the Saint's virtues with lively scenes of his life and the miracles he enacted.

 

FUN FACT: a popular legend says that St. Peter the Martyr is the protector of those who suffer from headaches. To be healed, you must rub a handkerchief on his tomb and then place it on your head.

 

And with this we have finished our tour of Sant'Eustorgio: MyWoWo thanks you for staying with us, and will see you at the next Wonder of the World!

 

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