The treasure map

These pages will take you on a journey through time, a journey that will feel as if you are in far-off contrade, or city districts, that bear little resemblance to those you see today. You will meet men and women that seem almost ‘foreign’ to you, who will guide you through unfamiliar experiences, social habits and customs that have been lost over the years, and tell you what life in Lombardy was like in centuries of old.

This journey through time is possible thanks to the richly assorted heritage that began to develop as far back as the fourteenth century in charity institutions which opened up in Milan to help the more disadvantaged members of society: the ‘heritage of the poor’, fruit of the generosity of numerous benefactors, consisting mainly of farmsteads, land and irrigation canals that produced the wine and bread which guaranteed subsistence for families that were less well-off.

And around all this, the slow flow of the centuries harvested an endless number of other articles from the life and history of the Luoghi Pii Elemosinieri, or almoners’ charity houses: maps and parchments, drawings and miniatures, watercolour maps, old photographs and letters, thick ledgers and tiny notebooks, scientific and pharmaceutical instruments, 12th-century stone sculptures, splendid gilded wooden reliefs, portraits of benefactors, altarpieces, liturgical furniture and accounts passed down by word of mouth.

This is the ‘treasure of the poor’ that ASP Golgi-Redaelli would like to make the heritage of all.