AROUND MILAN: discovering the San Vittore / Sant’Ambrogio area
Elegant buildings, prestigious architecture, and hidden treasures characterize this Milanese neighborhood, where history and tradition coexist with the modernity and vibrancy of the city center.
Located in the historic center of Milan, the San Vittore/Sant'Ambrogio area is characterized by a unique historical and cultural environment. Amidst splendid buildings with refined architecture and artisan workshops, you can immerse yourself in an authentic and evocative atmosphere that exudes elegance and timeless charm.
This area is home to several iconic and world-renowned sites that represent the true treasures of Milanese art and history. These include the magnificent Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, the Museum of Science and Technology, and, most notably, the prestigious Museum of the Last Supper, which houses Leonardo da Vinci's greatest masterpiece, The Last Supper.
Furthermore, the presence of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore creates a lively and dynamic atmosphere that fosters a stimulating and multicultural environment.
History and fun facts
This particular area of Milan is dedicated to two significant figures - San Vittore and Sant’Ambrogio. San Vittore, a Roman soldier from Mauritania, served in Milan during the reign of Emperor Maximian and was martyred for his Christian faith. Today, Saint Vittore is recognized as the patron saint of prisoners and exiles, hence the naming of the Milanese prison in his honor.
The second figure, Ambrogio of Milan, held the position of bishop in the city from 374 to 397, and was one of the most significant personalities of Christianity during the 4th century. He is primarily remembered for his instrumental role in the conversion of Sant’Agostino, who was originally a Manichaean. Additionally, Ambrogio introduced the Ambrosian rite, which is still utilized to celebrate mass in the city of Milan to this day. Furthermore, he is also associated with the legend that recounts how he defeated the devil with a kick.
Prior to the mid-19th century, the neighborhood consisted mainly of agricultural fields and had limited urban development. However, following Italy's unification, the first residential and public buildings began to emerge, including the construction of the San Vittore prison in 1872.
Several significant industrial sites emerged during this time, including the furnaces of Carlo Candiani and C. This company produced remarkable works, such as the statues found in the Milan Natural History Museum, and created a thriving industrial citadel at this location, although it has since all but vanished.
What to see
The San Vittore/Sant'Ambrogio area in Milan offers numerous attractions, making it an ideal destination to indulge in local history and culture.
The Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, which was built at the behest of Bishop Ambrogio, who is buried within its walls, is one of Milan's most ancient churches and a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture. The interior is home to many precious treasures, including a golden altar adorned with scenes from the life of Christ and Sant'Ambrogio. Additionally, there is the Chapel of San Vittore in Ciel d'Oro, which features magnificent mosaics that represent the oldest known depiction of the saint.
The magnificent cloisters of the basilica serve as the headquarters of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. Adjacent to the church, on Piazza Sant’Ambrogio, stands the renowned Column of the Devil with two holes. According to legend, Lucifer struck his horns against the column after being kicked by Bishop Ambrogio.
Continuing along Via San Vittore, you will find the National Museum of Science and Technology, the largest science museum in the country, dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci. Inside, you can explore the world's largest permanent exhibition dedicated to the projects of the Tuscan inventor. The museum is situated in the cloisters of the ancient Church of San Vittore al Corpo, whose unassuming facade hides beautiful interiors and the mausoleum of the Roman emperor Maximian, which dates back to the time when Milan was one of the imperial capitals.
A little further down the road, also on Via San Vittore, architecture enthusiasts can admire Palazzo Borletti. Designed by Gio Ponti and Emilio Lancia in 1927, this example of modern house was created for the new city bourgeoisie and quickly became a sensation in the world of architecture.
Walking along Via Morozzo della Rocca, you'll encounter Casa e Studio Portaluppi, a significant architectural landmark in the area. Continuing further, you'll arrive at one of the city's most mesmerizing locations: the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper is kept in the refectory. Lastly, right across the street from the church, make sure to visit Leonardo's Vineyard, a hidden treasure not to be missed.
Take note of these addresses
The San Vittore/Sant'Ambrogio area boasts some lovely historic restaurants, each with its own unique charm. Among them, Carbonaia is a standout for its delicious grilled meats served in a warm ambiance, while Bebel is renowned for its family-friendly atmosphere and great dishes that can be enjoyed in a pretty garden during the summer. And for those seeking a gourmet experience, Bistro Amo e Nadia is the perfect destination, combining the best of Italian gastronomy with avant-garde design.
If you're in the mood for some shopping, be sure to check out Maura Coscia's Atelier in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio, selling artisanal bags and accessories. Book lovers should head over to Trittico, a lovely independent bookstore on Via San Vittore with readings from lesser-known publishing houses - perhaps to pair with the famous Neuhaus pralines, which are available just a little further down the road.là.
The San Vittore/Sant'Ambrogio area is situated at the heart of Milan and offers convenient access to the city's major attractions, many of which are within walking distance. For instance, Piazza Duomo can be reached on foot within a pleasant 20-minute stroll. Alternatively, there are multiple public transport options available, including the MM2 metro line with the "Sant'Ambrogio" stop, as well as several bus routes such as the 50, 58, and 94.
In addition, the Milan Cadorna railway station, located nearby, provides excellent connections to Milan Malpensa airport, while the future MM4 subway line, currently under construction, will enable quick access to Milan Linate airport, further enhancing the area's accessibility.
The real estate market in the San Vittore / Sant’Ambrogio area
The real estate market in this particular area of Milan is distinguished by its magnificent 19th-century buildings and post-war constructions that host prestigious apartments and offices.
Its central location combined with its tranquil surroundings make it a desirable place to for those looking to buy a house in Milan. Moreover, the presence of the university and the upcoming opening of the MM4 metro line - which is already generating a noticeable surge in property values - make it an excellent location for investment purposes.