Onboard of tram 19, manoxmano will tell you something more about Milan – crossing it from East to West (North-West). As always, you can either get off and on the tram freely or stay onboard and listen to our stories.
Come on, don’t waste your time, have a seat and look around. There are too many things to see that you will continuously have to turn your head right and left – as if you were looking at a tennis match!
Dlin dlin! The tram immediately goes to Corso di Porta Vittoria , taking its name from the old gate located here – nearby the square – and close to those toll booths you surely have noticed. On your right, you will note down a red brick building with huge windows: this is the Camera del Lavoro, also known as Palazzo dei Sindacati (Trade Union Palace). How strange an difficult these words are! You’re right, but they’re not so strange, let’s try to understand the word etymology, it might help us! The Italian word for Trade Union sindacati comes from the Greek words “sin” meaning together and “dikè” meaning justice. Next time you will hear talking about Trade Union at the TV news you will know they’re associations that “cooperate together for the justice” created to defend, protect and safeguard the workers’ rights.
This is how this huge palace was built to deal with workers’ rights (and duties as well!). Now let’s go on and – on your left – you surely have already noticed a huge gray palace. Here the word “JUSTICE” is written in Latin (another old idiom) – in capital letters on the building facade.
This is Palazzo di Giustizia, also called Tribunal by lawyers. This is the place where judges sit with their wooden hummer and say who’s guilty and who’s not. A huge palace, with huge staircases and windows and broaden corridors. It is always filled with people, lawyers, policemen. Everyone going back and forth. Of course, we can tell you that if you’re not forced to go in, it would be better to stay away from here!
This area teems with activities and if you’d like to get close to the Tribunal – just behind – you will find something perfect for you. Indeed, inside Rotonda della Besana you will find an old church, now turned into a very peculiar museum: Muba, children museum! This is a beautiful place and, even though you are not going to visit it because you don’t have enough time, just now that the garden inside the Rotonda walls is stunning and very fascinating.
The tram keeps going on. On your left you will see the most important library of the city: Biblioteca Sormani. You will recognize it thanks to its flags! Just a few steps far from this yellow building, you will find some beautiful historical gardens we advise you to visit; we are talking about Guastalla Gardens! Poco più avanti, in prossimità di Largo Augusto… Further on, close to Largo Augusto you will be at the core of an area once called “del Verziere”. This was a very poor district where fruit and vegetable were sold. On your left – if you want to get off – you can enter this garden and find your way to Via Laghetto and Università Statale, passing through Piazza Santo Stefano where – if you’re old enough – you can visit the San Bernardino alle Ossa Church). Today, it seems to be a lovely and quit area, actually – once upon a time – this neighbourhood had such a bad reputation that witches were supposed to lived here, in Via Laghetto! (Witches in Milan)
There was a fruit and vegetable market that – with the passing of time – moved towards the city boundaries, following Corso di Porta Vittoria. Indeed, it was moved to the area where you can now find Vittorio Formentano Park and – later on – to its final location, just close to the tram 19 stop. (pop-up: from March 2015 Ortomercato is open non only on Saturdays, but also all mornings from 10am till midday. You will have your shopping for a fair price! Just know it was open to promote – in this period of economical crisis- local economy and markets.)
Pay attention not to misbehave on the tram since on your right there is a very peculiar palace. We are talking about the Palazzo dei Vigili Urbani (Traffic Officiers Palace)– the biggest one in Milan. You will find them all around to check the situation outside (Santa Monica Cafè)
If you’d like to go and see where they are you can have a look at the first fountain built here in Milan, located in Piazza Fontana, behind the Duomo.
If you decide to get off to take a stroll, we advise you to get back on the tram at the bottom of Via Larga, while if you’re sitting onboard, you can have a look at that huge tower on your left: Torre Velasca– one of the first skyscrapers here in Milan. It is said the architects tried to copy Torre del Filarete– know to the most as “the Tower with the straps” because of those strange belts supporting the upper part!
Then, you will reach Piazza Missori where you can see two important things: the first one – as you may see – is made up of the ruins of an old church. If you’d like to visit it, you can go and see just an under-earth part: the crypt of San Giovanni in Conca. The second one is a little bit more mysterious, it is a palace located in Corso di Porta Romana, nearby, at n. 3 where the Devil lived! (Gelateria Porta Romana)(for more info Through the scary ways)
Now the tram will reach the city centre and, turning right in Via Mazzini, you will be able to see the back of a famous church: Chiesa di santa Maria presso San Satiro (Princi). You will see its apse, its dome and a bell tower – on the left side of Via Mazzini; just go in if you’d like to see something magic (the entrance is located in Via Torino). It was designed and built by a famous architect who lived more than 500 years ago – Donato Bramate – and it is considered a work of art! We don’t want to tell you more, otherwise we will spoil you the surprise. By the way, listen! As soon as you will enter, try to go behind the altar and you will be stunned by an optical illusion!
Now take your seat and enjoy the view outside the window! The tram will turn left in Via Orefici only after showing you a beautiful perspective of Piazza Duomo (on your right) and of the triumphal arc of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (Luini ; Cioccolati Italiani)
Now you’re going through a very important area. A lot of beautiful palaces overlook this street and – if you look carefully – you will also see the Castello Sforzesco. . Just know that beyond Via Orefici you will find Piazza dei Mercanti, which is considered the real centre of the city because – as it is said – this place was chosen to create the city of Milan!
Your tour continues up to Piazza Cordusio. The Castello gets closer and close and you will clearly see Torre del Filarete (the Castello entrance). Do you think this resembles Torre Velasca? Come on, try to remember, you’ve just seen it!
From here, if you’d like, you can go through some small alleys to discover a famous square, known all over the world for its dimension – rather than its beauty. You might be wondering “why is it so famous?”. Because we are talking about Piazza degli Affari,seat of Milan Stock Exchange, i.e. the core where finance is supervised and monitored. Well, that’s what adults say. It would be better for you to know this is nothing but a huge market where to buy, sell and exchange “items” other than chickens, vegetables, clothes, food, toys. Just pieces of paper with a huge value that represent something very very big, impossible to get at once. The stock exchange has nothing to do with your mum’s purse or your sports bag – even though it can be considered a huge container. For sure, we can tell you that people is getting poorer and poorer and the world is going down to the pan because of the stock exchanges too – since sometimes they don’t contain what they’re suppose to contain! This is the reason why you can find here a weird sculpture, can you see that hand and its action? It represents a protest against this system.
Since we all are poorer and poorer, we advise you to do your shopping nearby, at Tiger, at the corner of Via Meravigli – where the tram will turn left! (Galleria Meravigli Bistrot)
Look around while sitting. Via Meravigli is a beautiful street where you can see beautiful historical palaces.
Very close to Piazza Affari, there’s a very nice part of the city that has been recently subject to restoration. We are talking about the so called Vicolo di Santa Maria alla Porta, an amazing church that was bombed during the Second World War. In the middle of this area, there’s a stone rod, exactly located where the bomb fell 70 years ago!
Nowadays, the Vicolo is stunning, also thanks to the restoration of the chapel floor and the painting called “La Madonna con grembiule” (“Virgin Mary with apron”). A very strange story is related to this fresco: during the XVII century, a worker found a painting of Virgin Mary’s face, while removing the lime from the walls. The worker cleaned it with his apron and, right after that, he was able to normally walk again!
This miracle made this place very famous and, about 100 years later, the citizens of Milan decided to build an octagonal chapel, devoted to Virgin Mary with apron!
After passing a widening, Via Meravigli turns into Corso Magenta. The buildings become more and more beautiful and a lot of people come to this chic street to have a look at the shop windows. Furthermore – if you’ve never seen an old-style patisserie – we advise you to go at the beginning of the street even just to look at the windows. We are talking about Pasticceria Marchesi, a jewel in the crown! On the right you will see Palazzo Litta facade. Inside, you will find such a huge and majestic staircase that you will feel to be in Cinderella’s movie.
Before going on that tree-lined street you can decide whether take a stroll here. First of all here – at the crossroad of the Cerchia dei Navigli (where once the Naviglio flowed) you can see a very old bar packed with young and old people having a drink. We are talking about Bar Magenta– a very old bar with its original sign. It might not be the ideal place to grab a bite, but stop by and have a look!
Furthermore, you can walk along the second part of Corso Magenta and then get on the bus in Piazza Virgilio.
While walking – on you left – you will see a beautiful building: Palazzo delle Stelline– called like this because it was a place where orphan girls where welcomed and educated, and they were usually called “stelline” (“tiny stars”). Have a look at the courtyard, it is beautiful!
Further on – on the other side of one of the most beautiful churches all over the world, Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie – you will find a lovely cloister to visit called Chiostro delle RaneHere you can also see – only booking beforehand – a painting known internationally: The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, that depicts Jesus last supper along with the 12 Apostles.
Hurry up! Walk along this street behind the church and reach Piazza Virgilio, where you will get on the tram again!
You will go along Via Vincenzo Monti but unfortunately the path will be hidden by the tree branches, so relax and enjoy your tour.
At a certain point you will see – on you left – a lot of beautiful villas overlooking the street; we are talking about Via XX Settembre, Settembre – one of the most beautiful ones in the city. The tram keeps going on and the view will immediately change: you will not see trees anymore, and you will see a beautiful view of the city.
You will see more modern buildings and – at a certain point – you will also spot CityLife– the new city, or better, a part of it. You are in Piazza VI Febbraio where – 5 years after the Five Days of Milan – another revolution took place, always against Austrians. Now look around and – avoiding the building sites – take a stroll (Al sale grosso). We advise you to start from Fontana delle 4 Stagioni, in Piazza Giulio Cesare. This fountain was realized together with the old fair (that was moved to the periphery) less than 100 years ago.
It has just been fixed and you can finally admire the water flowing!
Beyond the fountain works are still in progress and – little by little – we will see if we will love this new side of Milan. For now, you can admire at least one out of the three skyscrapers that will be build here: the Straight… Yes, you’ve heard it correctly! Just think the others will be named the Crooked and the Bent! They were still unfinished for the Expo start, yet we hope to see them soon!
We forgot to tell you an important thing: onboard tram 19 we started out tour from the city centre to get here, but you can also make this itinerary backwards! Not all tram have the same itinerary on their way back, fortunately this is not the case of this one! Actually, if you’d like to go back to the starting point, the tram is waiting for you!
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