o avoid confusion, let’s first make it clear that we are absolutely in favor of cafés, bars or bistros in museums both large and small. There’s nothing better than sitting down to a good coffee after having spent some time among masterpieces, collecting one’s thoughts, sharing reflections, doubts, or even plans for the next stop on the city tour.
We are therefore delighted that the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, one of the world’s most important museums with its collection of incomparable beauty, has finally opened its own dining area: Caffè Fernanda, the fascinating café already receiving excellent reviews from both art enthusiasts and its Milanese regulars.
A café was a must-have for recently reconfirmed museum director James Bradburne, renovator of the Pinacoteca’s 38 exhibition rooms. Caffé Fernanda is dedicated to the museum’s visionary director Fernanda Wittgens, the woman responsible for reopening the museum in 1950 after the devastating bombings of ‘43. The first woman in Italy to manage a national museum, Fernanda wanted to create a “living museum”. She filled the exhibition rooms with flowers, hosted fashion shows and extended the opening hours to late evening. This once-forgotten concept of connecting the museum to the city has recently been rediscovered, and the welcoming café plays an important role in its revival.
Also open to the public, Caffè Fernanda is located on the first floor, where one could once find the main entrance. It has been designed by the Milanese studio rgastudio with an aim towards highlighting the works of art and reinterpreting the space’s architecture designed by Piero Portaluppi in the fifties. Ithas the essence of a discretely luxurious and refined café, one which respects the historical context in which it is located.
The space is one of deep teal walls (from Portaluppi’s design) mixed with warm tones of ancient pink, which can also be found in the restored exhibition rooms. The room’s showpieces are the large painting by Pietro Damini “St. Bernard Converting the Duke of Aquitania” and, underneath, the 1950s counter with a mirrored bottle rack framed in ancient brass. All of this surrounded by the tables and seats of the Pedrali collection, which take on the tonalities of the splendid recovered and restored marble floor. Care to detail and attention to chromatic play, highlighted by precious works of art, make Caffé Fernanda a true gem which absolutely cannot be missed (not to mention the Pinacoteca!).
Where: Via Brera 28, Milan, Italy
Opening Hours: Tues – Sun 8.30 – 19.00