City Itinerary by Federica Raggio
Milan Castle – Via Beltrami (M1, red line, stop ‘Cairoli’)
Get acquainted with the city, more or less 3hrs
Get a BikeMi bicycle or rent a bike at Velocipedi and have it delivered in Piazza Castello or at your Hotel if not too far away and start your tour like an Emperor by crossing the main entrance of Castello Sforzesco all the way down to Arco della Pace. Parco Sempione in the morning is a bliss. If the sky is clear direct your wheels towards Torre Branca to have the best view of Milano from above (but during summer months you have to save the view for twilight, bring a bottle of something and raise the glasses in a toast to life). You can follow the paths and La Triennale Museum is always offering interesting exhibitions design and architecture oriented.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper is not much far from here, but it might be a bit crowded and without prior booking there is no chance to visit. But Santa Maria delle Grazie is one of the early Renaissance masterpieces Milano has to offer, as well as its cloister garden throughout the seasons. Secure your bike a take a walk inside.
Back on Via Carducci, in a glimpse, one can reach Basilica di San’Ambrogio, one of the most ancient churches of the city. You can also take a walk around the neighbourhood, Roman ruins and Medieval mazes create an unpredictable pattern. Head to the nearby Museo Archeologico in Corso Magenta, 15 where you can buy cheap but helpful maps of the Roman city mixed within the Medieval one and pop in San Maurizio Church that some call the Milanese version of the Sistine Chapel.
But if you are not much into cultural effort and prefer alternative touring, enjoy typical street market held in Piazza S.Agostino/Viale Papiniano off Via Olona every Tuesday morning and Saturday all day or go to Corso Genova for some window shopping at Biffi’s and take a coffee break at Pasticceria Cucchi, an institution in town from breakfast to aperitivo in pure ‘50s style.
From here, in a few minutes one reaches Colonne di San Lorenzo, Roman remains beyond the Medieval door Porta Ticinese, and Basilica di San Lorenzo.
Navigli District is so close that a little diversion should be seriously considered. You can ride from top to end down on Corso di Porta Ticinese that provides alternative vintage shopping. The first portion near the Colonne has vintage clothing. I love 1950 Studio in Corso Porta Ticinese 68. Also many design shops on both and Oltolini Design same address n. 89. As well as Panca’s Shoes’ Shop
Beyond the monumental door, the Navigli District. If the weather is mild a one hour trip on the boat along the canals can be a real treat if your legs are starting to get wobbly. More Info here.
But it could also be lunch time by now.
Take your lunch break on the Naviglio.
Plenty of alternatives for a lunch break sitting al fresco by the canal. Al Coniglio Bianco, El Brellin, Pont de Ferr, Ponte Rosso, some of the best amongst the many. Take a walk along the canal and intrude in the many courtyards that in former times used to be painters’ studios and some still are. Cross the pedestrian bridges and pick your choice for lunch
History and design trail -/+ 4hrs
Redirect your steps to the Cerchia dei Navigli crossing the XIX cen. door Porta Ticinese at the Darsena (in summer 2014 the whole area is still under major restyling works that should end before the EXPO opening). The bike lane leads across the Gardens of Piazza Vetra, a stunning perspective to discover the back of two Basilicas Sant’Eustorgio and San Lorenzo both in an overwhelming setting surrounded by some ruins and gardens.
Today’s last slice tastes both history and design.You will soon meet Giardini dellaGuastalla, a pretty jewel. Can you imagine how beautiful they looked when the Naviglio used to flow along the way ?
On the opposite side of the road there is former ancient Ospedale Cà Granda, now University (Università Statale). On Via Laghetto that leads to its entrance on Via Festa del Perdono, do stop at Cavalli & De Fernex, glamouros hand made bijoux for unique presents. The main entrance of the University on Via Festa del Perdono remains one of the most touching architectures one can see. Secure your bicycle and take a walk inside the Atheneum. During the Design Week in April these courtyards always host “not to be missed” installations. It also is a chance to discover its beauty lit up in the darkness. If fashion is not your profession but creativity and appeal are in your genes, Ab-Side is worth a short diversion to VIcolo Santa Caterina 1, it is more than just a clothes’ shop. Going to that direction you should also see Torre Velsca, the architectural icon from the ‘50s.
Back on the bike on the Cerchia – Via Francesco Sforza.
Have you ever wondered why Italians drink so many coffees?
The reason is soon explained. Pasticceria Taveggia on Via Visonti di Modrone is another historic Cafe, it is on the way and it should be experienced, of course.
After this boost of energy, make sure you do the right pick.
If you feel into design turn to Corso Monforte. High standards furniture, housewares and lighting shops will come in succession.
If you feel aristocratic, do not miss via Mozart crossing your way on the right. This is one of the most elegant areas to discover sophisticated Milano. Villa Necchi Campiglio, one of the few residences always open to the public and owned by the FAI Trust designed in the ‘30s by architect Piero Portaluppi. Nearby Via Cappuccini hides a special treat, Villa Invernizzihosts a colony of Pink Flamingoes in the garden and n.8 is one of the most unusual Art & Crafts building, Casa Berri Meregalli.
If you feel rich go shopping to the Quadrilatero.
If you feel wild, head towards the Museo di Storia Naturale in the Giardini Pubbliciwhere the 1906 EXPO was held.
If you need some culture, check agenda and events at PAC Contemporary Art Pavillion and GAM Modern Art Gallery, both set in former Villa Reale surrounded by a wonderful English park allowed to children only.
What time is it by now? Time is almost up. Via Fatebenefratelli crosses Brera District, just a few hundred yards away from here. Gothic to baroque Basilica of San Marco marks the entrance limit to the neighbourhood. Locals love this trendy and design shopping area as well as its vibrant nightlife. Academy, Pinacoteca, Botanical garden and historic artistic neighbourhood. No more time for a stroll today but do not worry, tomorrow’s trail will take you back to this area so get superficially acquainted crossing it and wait until tomorrow.
By now sunsetting should be on its way. If you have not done it in the morning, it is time to discover Milano from above. Point your wheel to Via Pontaccio leading to Parco Sempione. Torre Branca should be visible from the distance. If the weather is clear a 360° view of the city glowing under twilight is the best reward one can get to this tiring touring day.
Cross the Castle and get back to EXPO GATE in via Beltrami, ready to catch the 7.45pm tramway restaurant ATMosfera that offers the best way to discover Milano by night sipping a glass of champagne in an out-of-time ambience, tendered and looked after as if on the Orient Express.
- Cimitero Monumentale +/- 2hrs
What an unconventional way to get acquainted with a new town. Cimitero Monumentale is a late 1800 masterpiece in its kind. Guided tours will take visitors to a very atypical and unexpected two/hours trip to discover this open-air museum, a real pearl for art, architecture and sculpture lovers. To book your tour check here.
- Porta Nuova District +/- 1,5hrs
Walking distance from Monumentale, Porta Nuova District is the newest part of Milano. It is unique in Italy. No other city has gone through such a massive redeveloping program like Milano.
From Cimitero make your way towards Bastioni di Porta Volta, Feltrinelli Foundation Porta Volta on Viale Pasubio will soon have more to offer than a building site as it happens do be in summer 2014. Eager to see.
Viale Pasubio leads to Piazza XXIV Maggio. On the way to the left Via Maroncelli offers many interesting design furniture and clothing shops. I strongly suggest this short diversion before landing to the historic barrio of Corso Como – Piazza XXV Aprile that provides many appealing shopping points of view as well as tasty spots. Eataly and Princi, the new Mecca of food where you can stop for a watering mouth elevenses, and for chocolate dependent, historic chocolate shop on Via De Cristoforis Zaini is around the corner. High Tech in Piazza XXV Aprile 12 is the trendiest department store, houseware, design, clothing. Follow Corso Como that departs from here. Many boutiques in succession and Carla Sozzani Gallery within 10 Corso Como. Intense night life around here, too.
coffee break at Princi or Eataly
At the bottom end of Corso Como ride the pedestrian passage all the way up to Piazza Gae Aulenti. This is the neighbourhood that counts the highest concentration of contemporary. Unicredit Tower by architect Cesar Pelli greets your arrival on top of the lively square that Milanesi adore. Soon a couple of alternative routes will take shape under your eyes as you stroll around the area. The first leads towards Quartiere Isola, former workers’ village now a sparkling neighbourhood with a lot of cafe and restaurants, hip shops and a great street market held every Tuesday am only, Saturday all day. Main guiding building to spot the right way are Bosco Verticale by italian architect Stefano Boeri immediately off the pedestrian bridge on your left and Palazzo Lombardia clearly visible thanks to the EXPO logo worn as a hat. Porta Nuova Varesine is the alternative route, you can follow the sequence of buildings aligned on your right. A bridge over troubled traffic will take you towards this bunch of Milanese style high rise that are really breathtaking if discovered from ground level. Keep walking until a staircase will take you to a newly designed garden. This is the best path to enjoy architectural masterpieces from down under. Diamante Tower is the local Landmark.
Still much to walk before lunch. Head back, cross the door in piazza XXV Aprile and direct to Corso Garibaldi.
- Brera District +/- 2hrs
Brera District has its very own mood. Former brothel area, it is now one of the trendiest neighbourhood in town.
Via Solferino and Corso Garibaldi are some of the best shopping high streets in town. Design shops such as Controbuffet, bed linen at Society, furniture and decor at Raw are some of the few. Mario Luca Giusti sells the most extravagant crystal and glass looking household items made of synthetic materials. Do go shopping without worries about broken glass souvenirs. For garden lovers I Giardini di San Maurilio is THE shop in town. If you are looking for a quiet and secluded place, spend some time at the Botanical Gardensbehind the Accademy of Arts in the oldest part of the neighbourhood. Brera is also the mecca of nightlife. Narrow roads that glow in candle lights in the evening for a romantic dinner around Via Fiori Chiari-Via Madonnina. Crowds of aperitivo fanatic in Largo La Foppa, Via San Marco filled with wine bars and cocktail places. Do get lost in this maze.
Lunch break in Brera is perfect for any palat.
Trattoria dell’ Incoronata, Moscatelli, Pizzeria Grand Italia on Corso Garibaldi are some of my favourites for a quick genuine bite.
Le Rosse – Corso Garibaldi 79
Moscatelli – Corso Garibaldi 93
Princi – Largo La Foppa
Marc Jacobs Cafè – Piazza del Carmine
- Roman and Medieval Milano +/- 3hrs
You cannot leave Milano before at least standing in front of world-famous Teatro alla Scala. So fly to the bottom end of Via Brera and there it stands. Also, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the covered walkway that leads to Piazza Duomo, is a must. Tradition wants that if you are in the area, you must spin standing on your heel on the bull’s ball. Go hunting for the mosaic on the floor of the Galleria where the poor animal is and take your turn.
Once you have done with it, pay homage to the Duomo. Roof top view is breathtaking you should linger and make your way up. Then direct to Via dei Mercanti. Beyond the arched building Palazzo della Ragione that houses a recently opened Museum of Photography, this is the heart of the Medieval city: Loggia dei Mercanti overwhelms with its secrets. Taking one of the exits, you can cross busy Via Orefici. It is time to wander like a stray cat in the maze of Medieval Milano that still bares Roman ruins. From via Orefici, you meet Pinacoteca Ambrosiana. The Roman forum is now integrated with the visit. Around the corner of Piazza Affari and the Stock Exchange Market built above the Roman theatre. The square is dominated by troublesome almost site-specific artist Maurizio Cattelan L.O.V.E. (Libertà. Odio. Vendetta. Eternità – Freedom. Hate. Revenge. Eternity.). Take Via Santa Maria Fulcorina that leads to Corso Magenta and do plan another stop. This is Pasticceria Marchesi’s turn. An afternoon coffee with a sweet bite of something before making your way to the Medieval maze is a must.
During this rambling you should cross 5 Vie District Via Santa Marta & Co. The area is strongly recommended to discover best Antiques Shopping.
Almost ready to cheer the last hours in town? Why not savouring live music show choosing between two very Milanese aternatives?
If you did not spend a long time in Isola District during the day, you can choose to spend your last evening and night with an aperitivo in one of the many bistrot and cafe. Best treat for music lovers is to option The Blue Note for a live jazz concert. Restaurant service is available but many tasty alternatives are scattered around the area.
Another great alternative is to grab a cab to the Naviglio Pavese and spend the evening at Le Scimmie, cult place where rock, pop, indie music is performed live every night. The restaurant is a tip too and a bit less touristic than the nearby Naviglio Grande offers.
Vice versa, if you want to experience the romantic mood of Brera by night, come back for an evening stroll, dinner and night life around via Madonnina, Fiori Chiari, Fioravanti can turn your quick trip to Milano savouring
Fioriaio Bianchi – Piazza Mirabello
Osteria Stendhal – Via Ancona, 1
Osteria di Brera – Via Fiori Chiari, 8
Rosso di Brera – Via Formentini, 7
Fiori Oscuri – Via Fiori Oscuri, 3
If the weather is clear and mild enjoy cycling.
If it turns gloomy and wet pick any of your choices from the selection of Museums and Galleries and step in. Check ongoing events HERE