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The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is one of the most interesting museums in Milan. It was founded in 1618 by Cardinal Federico Borromeo, to house his collection of works, with the aim of providing free artistic and cultural education to everyone.
The Pinacoteca houses some of the most extraordinary masterpieces of all time such as Leonardo's Musico, the most extraordinary collection of Leonardo's folios, the Codex Atlanticus, Caravaggio's Canestra di frutta (Basket of Fruit), Raphael's preparatory drawing for the Scuola di Atene (School of Athens), Titian's Adoration of the Magi, Botticelli's Madonna del Padiglione and Jan Brueghel's splendid Vasi di fiori (Vase of Flowers).
Not to be missed is the Federiciana Room, the ancient reading room of the Library that still preserves all the shelves and books of the time, in which the sheets of the Codex Atlanticus and Leonardo's Portrait of a Musician are exhibited.
Interesting fact: a lock of hair belonging to Lucrezia Borgia, duchess of Ferrara, is kept in a precious display case in the Ambrosiana. During the nineteenth century, the lock became a relic of sorts, attracting many writers and poets who passed through Milan, such as Lord Byron and Gabriele D'Annunzio. Legend has it that on the night of the dead, the duchess' spirit travels along the corridors and halls of the Pinacoteca in search of the reliquary containing her lock of hair. Once found, she washes and combs it as she did when she was alive; because of this, the lock is still beautiful, soft and shiny today.
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