One of Milan's unsung attractions is the beautiful Ambrosian Library. But more than a mere collection of books, this library also has the largest collection of works by Leonardo da Vinci in the world, along art by some of Italy's pre-eminent masters.

The library was founded in 1607 by Cardinal Borromeo and inaugurated two years later. It was named for the patron saint of Milan, and established as a repository of texts in Greek, Latin, Italian dialects, and Oriental languages, from both ecclesiastical and private collections. The beautiful reading room is the highlight of the library.

Federico Borromeo was a patron of the arts, though, so he set up an academy for training in the fine arts with a school of design, sculpture, painting and architecture. Then he donated his own private collection, with 172 paintings, to the foundation. In the gallery you'll find masterpieces by Titian, Raphael, Botticelli, and Caravaggio.

The Leonardo Room has his Codex Atlanticus, which basically encapsulates his entire life in drawings and writings, including a host of subjects that interested him.

A trip to Milan will be greatly enhanced by a visit to the Ambrosiana!

Open from 10:00 AM til 6:00 PM; closed Mondays.

For advanced tickets see this site.

Been there? Done that? Share your experience and tips!

Haven't visited yet? Have questions about Ambrosian Library and Gallery? Ask them here!

Address in Milano:

Piazza Pio XI, 2.

Ph. (+39) 028 069 21.