The Monumental Cemetery, more than just a simple cemetery, is an extraordinary outdoor museum. It is as if some of the great sculptors of the 1900s were called together to elaborate and reflect on a particularly demanding theme, to be precise, death.
Just observing it from the outside, this place strikes you for its grand dimensions, a space of 250 thousand metres squared, a sort of grand oasis of peace, silence and tranquillity. And those who imagine this cemetery as an especially sad place are mistaken. In reality, it presents itself as a pleasant place to visit, filled with inscriptions that invite you to remember those who have gone before, rich with information and accompanied by interesting artistic detail.
The cemetery is comprised of three distinct zones: the central one hosts the tombs of catholic families and persons, that to the right facing the facade, is reserved for Jewish persons, while the left is dedicated to non-Catholics.
From an architectural perspective, you can catch a glimpse of both Romanic and Gothic traces. Along the principal paths, in order to help visitors, there are some maps that bear the indications of the most interesting monuments and among these the Famedio (Memorial Chapel) is indicated. It is a voluminous construction made of bricks and marble in Neo-medieval style where, amongst other personages, Alessandro Manzoni is buried.
But the surprises don’t finish here. In a secondary path on the left, you reach the tomb of the celebrated Campari family, famous for the noted aperitif brand, who chose to build a slightly larger than life-size Last Supper in bronze. It is signed by Giannino Castiglioni who created it in 1935.
Those wishing to admire work of the great sculptor Medardo Rosso, should make their way to monument number 325 where one can find the figure of Filippo Filippi, musical critic and composer who was closely connected with the Milanese Scapigliatura.
The tomb of Arturo Toscanini, another monument not to be missed, is the work of sculptor Leonardo Bistolfi. It strikes you for its delicacy and its dramatic nature as it alludes to little Giorgio, his son that was prematurely lost, and to his parents’ desperation who can be seen embracing each other. On the front of the monument there is a boat which portrays the voyage of the little boy's remains returning from New York, like a metaphor representing the moment of passing.