The Basilica of San Satiro
The Basilica of Santa Maria presso San Satiro, commonly denominated just San Satiro, is a beautiful and tiny church, just off via Torino, a few blocks away from Milan’s grandiose Cathedral.
The earlier Basilica owes its name to a Middle Age chapel built in the 9th century and dedicated to Satyrus, the brother of Milan’s patron saint Ambrose.
In the 13th century, a votive image painted on the external wall of the chapel, next to the graveyard’s gate, following a sacrilegious act, started bleeding and from that moment onwards San Satiro attracted thousands of pilgrims.
Therefore, in the late 15th century, at the time of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, a larger basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary was erected and the project was entrusted to Donato Bramante from Urbino.
Today’s church is completely surrounded by privately owned buildings and only the chapel of S. Satiro and the ancient belfry can be viewed from the sidewalk.
If the façade may look quite nondescript, the interior is a summary of balance and beauty, adorned as it is by classical motifs that blend together in perfect harmony inputs from Lombard artists as well as innovative ideas from Central Italian masters.
But what indeed is considered as the most amazing feature of the church is the apse trompe l’oeil decoration. To compensate for the lack of space caused by the thick grid of pre-existing roads and alleys, Bramante conceived an illusionary perspective that the most careful scrutiny would fail to classify as unreal.