The Sforza Castle, in the centre of Milan, hosts several museums within its walls. One of them is the Museum of Pietà Rondanini Michelangelo, named after its most iconic item on permanent display: Michelangelo Buonarroti's last piece of work, known as the Rondanini Pietà, a marble statue of the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Jesus close to hers in deep mourning.
The statue is said to have been Michelangelo’s centre of attention for the final years of his life. In fact, it is estimated that he worked on it for over ten years, changing it several times until the day of his death in 1564, leading many to consider it an unfinished piece. Parts of previous versions of the statue are visible in the same block of marble, where a more robust arm is left intact besides the two long and slim figures.
Inside this museum, one can also contemplate additional aspects of the castle’s history. The room now hosting Michelangelo’s work previously served as a Spanish military hospital for around 300 years. Original paintings from the 1500s adorn the internal walls and roof of the museum. The inscribed date of 1576 visible on the southern wall of the building is estimated to have been the completion year of the building’s transformation into a hospital.
It is possible to visit this museum for free during its last hour of admission (16.30-17.30) from Tuesday to Sunday. Because it is a small museum with few pieces on display, less than one hour is usually enough to contemplate what it has to offer. This makes it a great place to get an extra dose of culture and history for free if passing by the castle towards the end of the day.
The museum is also open free of charge every Tuesday after 14.00 and every first Sunday of the month. Otherwise full-price tickets can be bought on the spot, costing €5 and allowing a visit to all museums located inside the Castello Sforzesco.