Do you know how far away China is? The distance between Milan and Shanghai is about 10.000 km and by plane it will take almost 12 hours! Do you know how many people live in China? More than 1.000.000.000… Quite a lot if you think that on Earth there are 7.000.000.000 inhabitants! This can help you understand how impressive the number of Chinese citizens is and how ancient and rich their traditions are. The first Chinese people arrived in Milan nearly 100 years ago and started to open their workshops… They prefer not to live here but they willingly work in this area along with Milanese people! One of the most interesting things to see in this area is how Chinese manage to live and work in harmony with Milanese… Even more surprising is how new Chinese businesses are similar to Italian ones… This is a perfect mix of cultures and this is what living together really means!
If you have some spare time and you simply want to have a walk around without a precise destination, Chinatown is an attractive area, rich in aromas, colours and always lively! If you were to be here between January 21st and February 19th of each year (we will let you know the exact date in time for next year!), you will be able to witness the Chinese New Year. It is very difficult to exactly bound this area and it would be useless giving you an itinerary to follow, because wherever you look, there will always be something catching your eye, a scent to follow, a sign to read or a coloured shop window to observe! All the same, we will try to give you some good suggestions… But beware, it is not a test or an exam so you don’t have to strictly follow the instructions… It will be funnier if you just follow your instinct!
First of all you have to decide where do you want to start from, before throwing yourself into this unusual but fascinating reality. We advise you to take the tube to Moscova and decide whether to walk along via A. Volta up to piazzale Baiamonti, and start from there, Via Paolo Sarpi, or go along the end of Via Moscova and start the way from Via Bramante, which teems with little Chinese shops! You will get in any case to via Paolo Sarpi which has become a pedestrian area, to the great delight of children and parents!
Is it morning and you want to have a second breakfast? Have you already had lunch and mum would like a coffee? Is it snack time? If you want to have a great start to your day, right at the beginning of Via Paolo Sarpi 2, we advise you to stop at a bar/pastry shop with such a delicious window that will keep you glued to it… Chateau Dufan. And what about that window shop filled with all those coloured heads? Oh, they’re coloured wigs, it is Shen Zen (Omelaiya), a weird wigs and costumes shop, right next to the old Italian hat workshop cappelleria Melegari. Wherever you will look at, you will see a stream of historic workshops of any kind next to Oriental super coloured shops… Just think that people come from every corner of the city to buy meat at the butcher’s at n.27 , it must surely be special!
From here on, you will start to run into a series of side streets where you can let your curiosity guide you… For example, in Via Aleardi, if it is lunch time, you must go to Zhong. Obviously a Chinese restaurant, which is always open and with a very cheap set menu! At n.29 in Via Lomazzo we advise you Osteria Opera Prima, a family-friendly restaurant that your children will love for sure.
On the other side of Via P.Sarpi, in Via Rosmini you will find Kathay foods: one of the most well-stocked supermarkets as far as Oriental typical produce are concerned… It would be nice to go in and have a look at what they sell… If you are curious enough you will come out knowing much more than when you went in. Have you ever heard about water chestnuts?
Further on, in via Rosmini, there is an Italian – or better Friuli – tavern, Vecjo Friul where you can try a tasteful cheese and cold cuts board. You will not be disappointed… If you are in two mind whether eating an Italian dish or a tasty Chinese duck, in Via G. Bruno you will find Hua Cheng, a small restaurant where you can eat at any time!
At the end of Via Paolo Sarpi, you can take a left turn and walk down Via Canonica… This is a crowded street with many bars and shops… If you prefer an ice cream you can go to Gelateria 54, an ice cream shop well-known for its quality. By the way, whichever your preferences might be, the best part of strolling around an area like this, is that you can wander around without a destination or a schedule. Simply walk around as if you were on holiday abroad, appreciating the surroundings and once your curiosity has been satisfied, if the weather is good, go for a stroll in the park… Next there is Parco Sempione. Go straight to the end of via Canonica, cross Viale Elvezia and right in front of you there is one of the entrances to the park, right next to the Arena Civica… By sitting down on green grass meadow or in the shade of a plane-tree you will have the perfect ending to your day!
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