For the Love of Lombardy: Virtually Explore Italy’s Coronavirus-Ravaged Region

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 06:14
Hall of Giants Palazzo Te Mantua

Being the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, the northern region of Lombardy has been the worst affected and strained by the emergency, with the highest number of cases and deaths, and health facilities on the verge of collapse.  

Definitely consider visiting this region when it is possible to travel again. Its capital, Milan, is a global hub of fashion and finance, with many high-end shops and restaurants; it has history and architecture and art, with its Gothic Cathedral, the world-famous Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci in the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent, and the outstanding collection of Pinacoteca di Brera. North of Milan is upscale Lake Como, made famous by George Clooney who chose it as his second residence. Don’t underestimate though Lombardy’s other lakes, like Lake Garda, Iseo and Maggiore; don’t underestimate its other art cities either, such as Mantua, Bergamo Cremona. For nature lovers, head to the Orobie Alps and Valtellina. To learn more about Lombardy, check out the region’s official tourism website

In the meantime, tour some of its cultural institutions.

The Sforza Castle, one of Milan’s landmarks, is offering virtual tours of its rooms and art collections, thanks to a collaboration with Google Arts & Culture. On the platform, you can choose among eight stories grouped by theme, 262 works of art explained in detail by museum’s experts, and 12 virtual views focusing on specific locations of the castle, so you can explore and even better plan your visit. 

Still in Milan, the Pinacoteca di Brera, which contains one of the foremost collections of Italian paintings, allows viewers to admire the masterpieces of its collection in high definition. The high definition allows to identify even the smallest details of the paintings, to appreciate “the technical aspects, the subtleties of the pigments, the traces of the drawing, almost reaching the hearts and feelings of the artists,” says the museum’s website.

In addition, through its social media channels and YouTube, it offers a cultural program that goes under the hashtag #resistenzaculturale (cultural resistance), where employees of the museum talk about works of art and objects from the museum’s collection sharing their personal point of view (unfortunately this is only in Italian, with no English subtitles). 

There is also a section of the website dedicated to interesting Brera Stories. 

In Mantua, the masterpieces contained in the beautiful Palazzo Te are accessible online, again thanks to Google Arts & Culture

There are stories grouped by theme, 130 works of art available for viewing in high definition, digitized using Art Camera, a tool that allows to zoom in on the smallest details that you wouldn’t be able to see when visiting in person. 

You can also take virtual tours of the palace’s beautiful rooms, such as the outstanding Chamber of the Giants, or Hall of the Horses. 

Palazzo Te was built and decorated between 1525 and 1535 by Giulio Romano, who conceived it as a place for idleness and entertainment of the prince, Federico II Gonzaga, who would receive the most distinguished guests there.

It is located in the outskirts of Mantua, also famous for Palazzo Ducale. 

In Cremona, one of the cities worst affected by the outbreak, you can take a virtual tour of its Museo del Violino: you can see its rooms through the website, or even better, watch the YouTube video below, which makes you see the museum listening to the violin playing.

Cremona is especially noted for its musical history and traditions, including some of the earliest and most renowned luthiers, including Antonio Stradivari. And if you want more of that violin music, check the museum’s YouTube Channel.

There are also some limited views through Google Arts & Culture.