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The Bicocca degli Arcimboldi

Dentro la Bicocca: atrio e portico

The Bicocca degli Arcimboldi

Dentro la Bicocca: atrio e portico

Welcome to the virtual tour of the Bicocca degli Arcimboldi, which will take you through the history and rooms of this wonderful Renaissance building, now the official reception centre of the Pirelli Group. Here are some useful tips to give you a better browsing experience.

You can walk virtually through the rooms, moving in any direction, to whichever room or floor you like, using the arrows you see on the main screen.

A fixed icon at the top right gives you direct access to the various rooms and lets you examine the information that will enrich your virtual experience. Press the button at the bottom right to access this content. The Pirelli Foundation has selected documents and images that let you discover the history of the villa and its close bond with the company.

You can save time by pressing the button at the bottom left, which will take you directly to the next room.

Enjoy the tour!
The Pirelli Foundation staff

The atrium with its frescoes and sgraffito work

As one enters the atrium, one’s attention is drawn to the coffered ceiling, beneath which runs a frieze with a rinceau of foliage, fruits and laurel wreaths. The decorations are interspersed with knotted ropes on blue and red grounds and the walls are adorned with a motif of palm leaves and ribbons made using the “sgraffito” technique, which is found in many parts of the villa. This a levare – “removal” – process involves placing a lighter layer of plaster over a darker layer and then using an awl (sgraffio) to engrave ornamental motifs. By removing the lighter layer, the decorations are thus formed by the dark layer beneath. Over the years, many of these were covered over and then revealed again by the restoration in the 1990s by Piero Castellini.

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In memory of a valorous knight

Evidence of the services of arms and counsel that the Arcimboldi family rendered to the Visconti can be seen in the tombstone of Antonello Arcimboldi, who died in 1439, of which the original is now preserved at the Museo del Castello di Milano. After the Bicocca degli Arcimboldi was restored by Ambrogio Annoni, a copy was made and placed on the right-hand wall of the north portico. The architect Ambrogio Annoni wrote in 1922: “The inscription that extolls him is engraved in beautiful Gothic characters, recalling how the Duke wisely entrusted him with the populations, cities and weapons of the Anguigera lineage, which is to say, that of the Viscontis.”

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The lost frescoes

The portico, with six large arches decorated with sgraffito palmettes, gives onto the garden around the villa. The walls would originally have been decorated with a series of frescoes celebrating the ambassadorship of Guido Antonio Arcimboldi, archbishop of Milan from 1489 to 1497, who was appointed by the Pope himself to the court of Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary. Only one fragment remains of these frescoes, which were made in 1488, showing some buildings, parts of a palace and figures of dignitaries wearing togas. Other fragments, now lost, appear in photographs in the photographic archive of the Castello Sforzesco.

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