Glittering with gold and sumptuous decor, the Church of Santa Maria presso San Satiro holds a secret. It was created for us by none other than Donato Bramante, the genius architect of the Renaissance. Three naves, a solemn dome and a 9.7-metre apse were at the basis of the original project. But, even in those days, the bureaucracy was powerful and the diocese was not given the permission to build such a large church. But Bramante didn’t lose heart. He reworked the blueprints of San Satiro and in the place of the apse, he created a remarkable illusion. What seems to us to be an ample choir lined with columns under a stunning golden facade, is actually only 97 centimetres deep, an optical illusion created by a gifted artist. It is a precursor to modern special effects, building on the studies of perspective conducted, just a few years earlier, by Piero della Francesca and Donatello. By not giving into a challenge and outdoing all limits with an unexpected solution, Bramante breathed life into a fortunate invention - the technique of Trompe-L’Oeil - literally “deceive the eye” - used by the artists of the 1500s and the Baroque quite widely to the sheer wonder of the public’s eye.