Sometimes called "Milan's Sistine Chapel" because of its profusely--and beautifully-- decorated walls and ceilings, San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore is well worth a visit.
The Renaissance paintings commissioned by the Sforza family (the primary sponsors of Leonardo da Vinci), adorn the walls of a cloistered convent founded for noble ladies in the early 16th century. Built on an ancient Roman site, the church was built and decorated in stages over several centuries, every interior wall covered in luminous colors befitting the pomp of Lombard aristocratic taste.
In particular, frescoes by Bernardino Luini, student of da Vinci, blend the sacred and the profane, using members of the court as models for portraits of saints. Most of the numerous religious and secular works of the Milanese painter have been lost, so San Maurizio is the best place to see his works.
To get the most out of a visit to this little gem of art history, go with a knowledgeable guide. My husband and I toured historical Milan with Ludovic Goudin of Walks of Italy, who offer a variety of tours in Milan. San Maurizio was just one of the fascinating places we visited!.
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Don't miss: Milan's "Sistine chapel"
This is my favorite church in Milan after the Duomo, and it is quite the hidden little beauty. Known as the “Sistine chapel of Milan” it is covered head to toe in bold and colorful frescoes and has a fascinating history. The church was originally part of the Monastery Maggiore, a very important Benedictine convent.
A partition wall separates where the nuns would worship and where the church goers would worship. There are tiny grates in the dividing wall that would allow the nuns to hear the mass.
Walk through the doorway on the left hand side to reach the Hall of Nuns. I didn’t think anything could top the church, but I think the Hall of Nuns is my favorite part!