In the Garden of History - the Botanical Garden of Brera
Location: Orto Botanico di Brera
Address: Via Privata Fratelli Gabba 10
There is an oasis of green in the heart of Milan. Among the shops and majestic buildings of the historic neighbourhood of Brera, there is an ancient garden where, as early as the 1500s, monks cultivated vegetables and medicinal herbs. It was Arch-Duchess Maria Teresa of Austria who transformed it into a botanical garden in 1774 with an ambitious project to promote agriculture and art. Here, young students learned about the plant world and plants were grown for Brera’s nearby Spezieria or spice-works. A few decades later, Napoleon brought along exotic and ornamental plants and the Orto Botanico became a meeting place for all of Milan’s citizens. Today, the garden is home to scientific studies, but also a beautiful “living museum”, just a stone’s-throw away from the Pinacoteca of Brera. Restoration work in 2001 brought to light its original configuration, with two elliptical basins, an arboretum and overflowing flowerbeds. With truly useful herbs, rare species and greenhouses for tropical plants, there is a precious collection of hydrangeas and two Gingko Biloba that, at the ripe age of two-hundred-and-fifty-years old, represent the patriarchs of the garden.