Heart of the Renaissance in Milan, but also of that avant-garde creative drive from the 60ies that has elevated the city to the world capital of design.
Casa degli Atellani is one of the masterpieces of the Renaissance, famous for being at the center of the court of Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan, who in 1490 gave it as a gift to his trusted collaborator Giacometto di Lucia dell’Atella. The property also houses the famous “Vigna di Leonardo”, the vineyard that in 1498 the Duke gave to Leonardo da Vinci, who his host and courtier, had painted the frescoes, including the famous Last Supper, for the nearby church of Santa Maria delle Grazie built by the duke’s will.
But the Casa degli Atellani is also one of the masterpieces, if not the masterpiece, of Piero Portaluppi, one of the multi-talented geniuses who redesigned Milan after the war, laying the foundations of that unique style that years later elevated the city to the capital of world design. Engineer and architect, Portaluppi, is known in particular for some works including Villa Necchi Campiglio, a déco masterpiece starred in the film I am Love with Tilda Swinton, Palazzo Crespi in Corso Matteotti, the Hoepli Planetarium, the Albergo Diurno in Piazza Oberdan. Portaluppi was also a designer, a cartoonist, a film-maker, a collector, and a curious traveler, passions that are reflected in all his creations. They, in fact, have in common, in addition to the harmonious Art Deco symmetries typical of the years between the two wars, an eccentric blend of styles and eras that mix ancient with modern taste.
After changing various owners, Casa degli Atellani was bought in 1919 by the engineer and senator Ettore Conti who entrusted Portaluppi, who got married to Conti’s niece, with the complete renovation of the property. He will overturn the structure, demolishing walls and recovering many of the original decorations, thus creating an architectural unicum of great originality and theatricality.
In the building, Portaluppi set up also his personal apartment, an eclectic and fascinating space, where he will live from 1922 until his death in 1967. Today the residence of his nephew Piero Castellini Baldissera, also a famous architect, the house is a triumph of aesthetics and love for detail, where nothing is left to chance. Portaluppi’s passion for sundials, which he used to collect, for floral trompe-l’œil and for the creation of furnishing objects, such as chairs, sofas, desks, mixes with the geometric deco shapes influenced by an idealized Orient and its stylistic codes.
A love for the synthesis of styles from different eras can also be seen in another jewel of Casa degli Atellani: the sixteenth-century Sala dello Zodiaco. The room is frescoed with the 12 zodiac signs, the chariots of the planets, the map of Italy, the Rose of the twenty and some figures representing the seasons and a series of mottos in Latin, to which Portaluppi added various details including his motto “Faire sans dire” and the initials H and J, of Hector (Ettore Conti) and Joanna (Giannina Casati, his wife).
Casa degli Atellani therefore represents not only the crossroads that made the history of the Renaissance in Milan, but also the heart of that avant-garde creative drive that has seen great architects, from Gio Ponti to Franco Albini, contemporaries of Portaluppi, redesigning the history of Italian design.
And today, this dream can also be lived, as well as visited. In fact, Casa degli Atellani also offers to opportunity to stay in 6 suites renovated by Piero Castellini Baldissera and Filippo Taidelli.
Casa degli Atellani
Corso Magenta 65