The Quadrangle of Silence: an oasis in bustling Milan
There is silence in bustling Milan. A soundproofed space full of beauty and architectural details, oblivious to the city noise. An oasis defined within a clear perimeter, a quadrangle formed by the streets around Piazza Eleonora Duse.
This peculiar part of the Lombard metropolis began to shape up in the Habsburg period; later, it became an area of neoclassical, eclectic and Art Nouveau architecture in the 1800s, with aristocratic 20th-century buildings added between the 1920s and 1930s.
This is the area where Renzo, one of the main characters in Manzoni’s “The Betrothed”, arrived some four centuries ago after entering Milan, passing through the bastions of Porta Venezia, reaching what today is known as Piazza Oberdan.
to the right and left were gardens enclosed by hedges, and at intervals, small houses inhabited for the most part by washerwomen (chapter XI); that image of the 17th century is gone today, but in its place we have the 19th-century Istituto dei Ciechi, as well as Palazzo Fidia (designed by Aldo Andreani) and Piero Portaluppi’s Villa Necchi-Campiglio, built in the 20th century. There are Palazzo Invernizzi with its amazing pink flamingos, the eclectic Palazzo Berri-Meregalli (with wrought iron by the great Alessandro Mazzucotelli on the outside, and Adolfo Wildt’s “Winged Victory” inside) and Villa Mozart, which is entirely covered in ivy and climbing plants, as if predating the city’s new Vertical Forest…
The icon of this oasis of silence simply had to be the sculpture of an ear: the old buzzer to Casa Baslini (also known as Palazzo Sola Busca), on Via Serbelloni, turned into a work of art by Aldo Andreani in homage to Adolfo Widt.
And now, like Renzo Tramaglino on his adventure through Milan’s 17th-century mysteries, let’s explore this hidden corner of the city.