In the trendy neighbourhood of Isola, you would never expect to find such a place - not visible from the street, the Fonderia Eugenia is an open door on a distant past. Its story began with Napoleon, who confiscated the property of the Santuario di Santa Maria della Fontana after he conquered Milan. Right next to the miraculous well, a bronze foundry was built which produced arms and munitions, as well as furnishings and sculptures, such as the sculptural group which dominates the Arco della Pace in Parco Sempione. To create the foundry, the Viceré Eugenio de Beauharnais brought in two pros from Paris, the Manfredini brothers. It is in his honour that the foundry was named Eugenia. In 1830, Napoleon was no longer to be reckoned with and the Barigozzi family picked up where the Manfredini started, running the foundry until 1975 when it finally closed. The Barigozzi specialised in the production of bells, but from this illustrious workshop on Via Thaon di Revel, great monuments also sprang forth, such as that of Alessandro Manzoni in Piazza San Fedele, that of Luciano Manara in the gardens of Porta Venezia and that of Vittorio Emanuele II on horseback which, today, looks over Piazza Duomo. All this work is well-documented in the recently opened museum in the foundry where, among furnaces and fusion wells, tile floors and exposed beams, there is a rich collection of photos of the Barigozzi and plaster casts of the figures that decorated the bells they created. The restored environs of the foundry continue to come to life, hosting exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events.
Fragile and magnetic, a young woman stares out at the spectator beyond the canvas - not even its creator could pull himself away from the portrait of Concha Emiliana de Ossa, today in the collec-tion of the Pinacoteca of Brera.