It's little wonder that Napoleon chose to live here in 1802, followed by the Austrian field marshal Count Joseph Radetzky. This recently restored neo-classical villa, formerly known as the Villa Reale, is one big conspicuous display of wealth. The English-style grounds, complete with pond and footpaths, simply add to the majesty.
The building's marble columns were laid down in 1790 by Austrian architect Leopold Pollack, who designed the mansion for Count Ludovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso. After unification, ownership passed to the Italian royal family, who gave it to the city of Milan in 1921. Today it's the home of the Museo dell'Ottocento (museum of the 19th century), form-erly the Galleria d'Arte Moderna.
The collection is splendid. Made up of bequests by leading Milanese families, it occupies 35 rooms in the central body and on the first and second floors of the west wing of this U-shaped building. The ground floor is given over to neo-classical paintings, sculpture and bas-reliefs. Spread out over the ballroom and former living areas on the first floor are paintings from the Romantic period, as well as some Futurist works. (Look out for Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo's fine example of the socialist arte nuova movement, The Fourth Estate.) The second floor showcases the Grassi and Vismara collections, the latter including works by modern Italian and international masters such as Giorgio Morandi, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse and Picasso.