Tucked away in a little backstreet near Il Duomo, Milan’s famous Cathedral, is Clubino, an exclusive gentlemen’s club. Historically it is better known, appropriately, as the Casa degli Omenoni – the House of the Great Men (rebuilt 1565-67). Adorning its facade are eight enormous male figures with serious features. They were made by sculptor Antonio Abondio, to a design by renowned Italian sculptor Leone Leoni (c1509 – 1590) to decorate his own mansion. They are Atlantes (Titans), named after Atlas, decorative supporting figures, their heads bowed to take the weight of the structure above.
I was shown this impressive building during a walking tour of Milan with Milanese travel blogger Simon Falvo; you can read her fascinating blog Wild about Travel. It’s great to go round with a local as you get to see sights that a tourist often misses. I only spent 24 hours in the city and barely scratched the surface of its many historical and architectural treasures, but these figures made a big impression. In his poem ‘The House of the Titans’ George William Russell refers to “… the tender shadow of long-vanquished pain and brightening wisdom …” which sculptor Abondoni has captured beautifully in these evocative figures.
If you visit Milan, search out the Casa degli Omenoni; you’ll find it at No 3 Via degli Omenoni; well worth a detour from nearby Piazza Il Duomo .