● Ulrico Hoepli Civic Planetarium
● Porta Venezia
● Piazza della Repubblica
● The “New” Milan
● Pirelli skyscraper
● Central Station
● Mazzini memorial
● Piazza Tricolore
● Piazza San Sabila
● Quadrilateral of Fashion
● Piazza Meda
● Palazzo Spinola
● Piazzetta Liberty
● Corso Vittorio Emanuele
● Palazzo Reale
● Piazza Duomo
● Vittorio Emanuele Gallery
● Piazza Mercanti
● La Scala Theatre
● Palazzo Marino
● Via Manzoni
● Ca de Sass
● Expo Gate
00/10 Km: From Public Gardens to the Castle, having a look at skyscrapers
Ready to set off? You’re in Corso Venezia, one of the most beautiful roads in the whole of the city. Incredible buildings on your right that look into equally incredible gardens… the Indro Montanelli Public Gardens.
Hidden beyond the gates and behind the branches of these magnificent plants is a rose-coloured, neogothic structure. It is Milan’s first public museum, the Natural History Museum.
The “Giardini Pubblici” (Public Gardens), or so they were called by the Milanese for over 200 years, represent the first example of a “public” park. Today, the plaque on the gate reads: “Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli” (Indro Montanelli Public Gardens) in honour of a famous journalist from Milan, who passed away about fifteen years ago. He was the victim of a terror attack, committed to intimidate the public, by the Brigate Rosse… Montanelli can still be found within the gardens, sitting with his beloved typewriter on his lap. This was once an area filled with orchards and fields and a dense network of waterways, which are still a defining feature of the park today, traversing it. Therefore, Giuseppe Piermarini, a very famous architect of the time, was asked to plan out the planting and positioning of all the flowers and trees. Pieramin’s designed a garden in a French style, full of different perspectives and points of views. His design was later on integrated into another architect’s, Giuseppe Balzaretto, vision of a more English garden, with more bodies of water and rest areas. The end result is an incredible location, ideal for playing and perfect for walks along the gravel roads, some fresh and in the shade whilst others filled sunlight bordering great grass fields where one can lie down and enjoy the first sunny days of spring… not to mention the waterways and little river… wonderful!
You won’t have to look far to see different kinds of ducks and if you look closely into the water, huge carp swim unperturbed between the ducks’ feet. If you’re lucky enough you might even see a turtle or two resting on the shore! There were once white and black swans as well, there aren’t any around nowadays, but who knows, maybe one day they’ll come back too!
Walking along the paths is extremely pleasant, and if you have children, they definitely won’t get bored. Within the gardens there are 3 play areas for children of all ages, along with a carousel and an extremely sought after bumper-car area… Not to mention the fantastic little train, always conducted by the usual, ageless conductor!
This is definitely the right place for botany lovers. It is filled with ancient trees, and if you pay careful attention the names of every plant are written on signs throughout the park.
On the right between the buildings, an arched entrance to a small road (Via Salvini) with statues and buildings all around and on the roofs, more statues! Further on, before the large crossroads, on your left, in the park, the Planetarium‘s dome.
It is the Civil Planetarium Ulrico Hopli. First of all, lets state that this magnificent structure was a present to the city of Milan by the Swiss who then gave it his name, Ulrico Hoepli, who in May 1930 wrote: “to the generous Milan, my adoptive homeland, I give to you, with a grateful spirit, the Planetarium.”
It is biggest one Italy, and throughout the years, has had moments of real and true magnificence. The Architect that designed its shape and gave it neoclassical style was Pero Portaluppi, very famous architect in the interwar period for residential buildings in Milan.
The building has an octagonal shape and the size of its projection room (almost 20 metres) allows for more than 400 places to sit. In just one year, planetarium receives more than 100.000 visitors!
At the base of the of the dome there is a skyline of Milan from 1930. There are some similarities with the real skyline today; the Duomo is clearly visible, but most skyscrapers and buildings were built later on. These ones will be visible later on, in real life, probably without a starry sky, but definitely a more realistic one!
In front of you, Porta Venezia. The two squared buildings, surrounded on three sides by porches are the old caselli daziari, where duty collection used to take place for those trying to enter the city. They were once connected by a gateway that marked the border between the urban territory and the countryside. This was the Porta Orientale (oriental door) to the city, now called Porta Venezia, designed by Piermanini without the actual architecture of a door but only with these two monumental structures.
This entrance was the one used by Lorenzo in The Betrothed when he rushed to Milan in search of Lucia, and found before him the horrifying spectacle of the plague in Milan.
Let’s get back to the caselli: after a long period of abandonment, in the beginning of the XXI century they were eventually restored by the Associazione Panificatori Pasticceri ed Affini di Milano Monza Brianza e Province (association of bakeries of Milan and surrounding areas) and became a location to promote the “culture of bread”. The one to the west, known as casa del pane (house of bread), houses a section of the Sormani library dedicated to food and food farming related themes. It is the most important collection of literature with regards to that industry in all of Italy, bringing together the Luraschi, Marinoni funds and the Buonassisi collection It contains roughly 6000 texts of which 3100 are monographs. Also in the western casello, there is the Piccolo Museo del Pane (little bread Museum) that currently has 5 pieces of bread making machinery, and an exhibition, by l’Academia della Crusca, that takes you on a journey through the history of bread.
Now turn left. A slight hill followed by a slight downhill walk, will let you know that you are on the bastioni, more precisely: the Bastioni di Porta Venezia. First of all lets explain what is meant by “bastioni”: the term derives from bastia which means “a fortified structure that consists of an embankment with a polygonal perimeter of large supporting walls”. Therefore, what we are referring to are in essence the walls of the city, the walls of Milan, or at least a section of them. Let’s not go into detail about all the expansions that the Walls have had over the course if history, from the Roman era, the medieval one and the Spanish rule… All you need to know is that the city changed along with its walls and that, still today, there are traces of these changes, even though they are often undervalued! Of the section we find ourselves in front of now, almost everything has changed over time, even its entire name! It was originally called the Bastioni di San Diogini because of the presence of a now lost Basilica, they were then called Bastioni di Porta Orientale and around the time of Italy’s Unification were renamed Bastioni di Porta Venezia. However, in 1700, under Austrian rule, this stretch of road, tangent to the Gardens, lost its military and defences purposes a became a lovely promenade that the people of Milan held very dear.. and so it remained for a long time! Nowadays it’s a Walk even for cars as they often remain stuck in this stretch on their way to Piazza della Repubblica, which is exactly where it leads!
Piazza della Repubblica is one of the biggest squares in Italy.. although it is very busy it does also have numerous green areas and has always been one of the city’s crucial land marks. The piazza was built to accommodate the previous Milan Railway station… Back in those days the railway tracks were a lot more tangent to the city, so much so that not far from the square there is a neighbourhood called Isola (island) because it was “isolated” by tracks surrounding it… very appropriately the square was call Piazzale stazione Centrale (central station square)!
When the station was later on moved a km away, we it still sits today, the square was named Piazza Fiume (river square) and was extended. The road that brings to it, via Vittor Pisani, was completely renovated with huge buildings either side of it that still distinguish it today.
It was the 30s and the fascist direction that imposed that style of building.
Until 1946 the name of the square remained unchanged, however, in honour of the proclamation of the Italian Republic, Milan decided to change it! No matter where you look you will see different kinds of buildings facing this enormous open space, as well as the well-known hotels like the Principe di Savoia, Hotel Duca (by the famous architect Aldo Rossi, and the Torre Breda and Torre Turati, which rise above the rest, and were among Milan’s first skyscrapers!
Left of Piazza Repubblica, along Viale della Liberazione is where the New Milan begins! Along this road, on the left side, where these huge shiny buildings now stand there used be the “varesine” the renowned Milan theme park. In reality the huge expanse of urban emptiness had always created a rip in the city’s fabric but, thanks to a massive effort that started in 2004, it is beginning to change.
The main objective of the project is a reconstruction of the area through a development of existing neighbourhoods. The project includes an extended pedestrian walkway system made up of squares, residential green areas and pedestrian and cycle only bridges… well, pretty much everything that a modern metropolis requires! You have before you the biggest construction site in Europe. Works should probably already have been completed, however, it’s well known that in Italy, schedules are notoriously “hard” to keep to!
Regardless of the couple of cranes and piles of dirt, the size and importance of the project is still perceptible.
The entire development project is called Progetto Porta Nuova and includes the Varesine area, Garibaldi area, and the Isola neighbourhood. From the ex-Varesine, the Diamante tower, two smaller building called the Diamantini, the Solaria tower and Solea tower, and in front of you, you can’t miss the peak of the Unicredit tower, behind the Garibaldi towers, and on their right the Bosco Verticale (Vertical forest), a residential complex with trees and plants planted on amazing terraces all along the length of the building.
The Giardini di Porta Nuova, central node of the project, have, unfortunately, still not been completed. However, it is well known that parks and gardens are always the last to be completed. Before it can happen the surrounding area has to be cleaned up and the construction site completed. Let’s hope that by the Milan Marathon 2016 the park’s trees will be there to shade you.
In front of you, you will see two skyscrapers: the first, a bit older than the other, is the Palazzo del Comune Settore Edilizia (building of the construction industry). The other is the new and magnificent Palazzo della Regione Lombardia (Lombardy region building), that replaced the famous (and probably much nicer) Pirelli skyscraper.
After exiting the small under passage, turn right on Via Pirelli, a brief walk and then before you will have the famous “Pirellone”. The Pirelli skyscraper, called Pirellone by the Milanese, is probably the most prestigious piece of architecture of the post-war period. Whilst looking at it you can’t help but turn your gaze upwards! Beautiful, light and slim! If looked at from the side it sticks out like a blade in the sky!
It was the home of the Regione Lomabardia offices from the end of the 70s, until they were moved a few years ago, into the previously mentioned building. A building that is much bigger, much taller and much more complex, but is it much nicer? We can say that for the lovers of the Vecchie Guardie, the Pirellone will always be an example of irrefutable harmony, from the exterior to the interior, in regards to the proportions and choice of materials.
The architect who designed is called Gio Ponti, and it is safe to say that with the Pirelli, he out did himself. An interesting fact is that the building is built on a massive block of cement that in turn lies on the soft and water rich Milanese subsoil. This allows the building to oscillate about 15cm in all directions, meaning it can withstand winds up to 400km/h!
The people of Milan will definitely remember that, straight after the Twin Tower tragedy in NY, Fasulo di Locarno flew his small aircraft into the side of the Pirellone, throwing the city into a state of panic. However, fortunately for us, but unfortunately for him and the two victims inside the tower, it was not an act of terrorism. The 26th floor of the building did, however, burn for several hours.
Fasulo, at the time of the accident, was in contact with Linate airport control tower, waiting for his permission to land. It is believed that he took the wrong course whilst being distracted by other commands, heading towards the tower. Furthermore, for the last part, before colliding with the tower he was facing the sun, which most probably hid the tower from his view before it was too late.
The central part of the floor of the building that he crashed into is now vacant, and called “piano della Memoria” (floor of memory) in honour of the victims of the 18th of April 2002. Not to end this section on the Pirelli skyscraper on such a sad note, an interesting fact: since 2007 the Pirellone, hosts the “Vertical Sprint”; on organised race up the 31 floors and 710 steps of the building, with the best athletes doing it in under 4 minutes!
At the foot of the skyscraper, the Stazione Centrale di Milano (Milan central station). It is the Italy’s second station in terms of size and traffic. More than 600 trains depart from it, heading to Italy and all of Europe. It is equally huge from the outside as it is from the inside! An architect called Stacchini was put in charge of designing the station on 1912, but because of the war and other problems, the station was not finished until a couple of years before the Second World War. Not only is the front façade extremely impressive, it is also extensively decorated and has huge windows that allow the whole of the entrance to be lit up by natural light. The outside is dotted with all sorts of sculptures and other artwork: from eagles and winged horses to a large lion, symbol of the national rail organisation. What else can be said? The only way to truly understand the extent of the number decorations throughout the station, is to pay it a visit. Maybe next time!
Now close the loop and make your way back to Piazza della Repubblica along Via Vittor Pisani.
In front of you there is the Turati Tower, but on your right, unnoticed by most, a monument to Giuseppe Mazzini. The marble and stone monument is considered to be the symbol of Italy’s journey to unification. Every sculpture in it represents a phase, with Mazzini, as the last, representing the last step. The Mazzini statue was made a hundred years prior in 1874 by Giulio Monteverde and added to the monument later on.
The collection of sculptures was drawn by the Italian sculptor and painter Pietro Cascella and made in 1974. The information tags on them are now almost completely illegible, but they explain what the artwork is about: it was conceived as an “open monument” meaning it was to not artwork to ponder over, but rather artwork to step into and become part of.
Within the monument there are various symbols:
a flower, similar to the capital of a column, symbol of Giovine Italia;
barricades, symbol of the fight for Risorgimento;
Medusa, symbol of the fear in Italy whilst under foreign rule;
a face in the shade made by a wall, symbol of conspiracy;
nine headstones with engraved names and dates of nine people that represent the mazzinianesimo Lombardo, one per province.
Within the monument there is also a bronze statue of Mazzini dated to the 19century, it was added to create a link between the two centuries.
From here make your back over to the bastioni di Porta Venezia, walk back along the Giardini Pubblici, whilst soaking in the smell of spring! Walk past the Caselli di porta Venezia and turn right.
Viale Majno is a road with impressive buildings all along it, some contemporary and some older. The ones on the left are set back compared to the pavement, which means they are more luxurious. Pay attention to n°9, built with typical venetian style, a real treat!
The other side of the road also has some magnificent ones, closer to the road, and if you are able to make them out through the tree branches you will see some incredible facades and impressive entrances!
About 10 years ago, works on a lovely green area at the centre of the road, were finally completed. It gives residents the opportunity to go for walks with children and pets without having to worry about the dangers of the road as well as adding character to the area.
Further down Viale Luigi Majno becomes Viale Bianca Maria. A large square marks the separation between the two. The name of the square, Piazza Tricolore, and the monument within it are both in memory of the liberation of Italy at the end of WWII. The Monument, “Monumento al Finanziere” by Aligi Sassu, was “uncovered” exactly 30 years ago, on the 40° anniversary of the liberation, at the X national rally of the “Fiamme Gialle”, in honour of their contribution to the cause in 1945. The Artwork is called “Cielo, Terra e Mare” (sky, earth and sea). From here Luigi Majno gives way to Bianca Maria.. But who was she?
She was the daughter and only heir of Filippo Maria Visoconti, Duke of Milan, and of Agnese del Majno. She was the wife of Francesco Sforza, duchess of Milan and mother of the dukes Galeazzo Maria Sforza and Ludovico il Moro… You could say that the name of the road was hard earned, no?
But let’s get back to us.. the buildings are always beautiful and at the end of the road, in the distance, you’ll be able to see a large square, Piazza Cinque Giornate, beloved by that Giuseppe Mazzini of Giovine Italia.
It’s not one of your destinations so turn around and head down to the left towards the city centre!
Via Mascagni and after Via Borgogna will lead you to the super central Piazza San Babila! It is a strictly residential road and rather “mono-color”. For years there were works to build, underneath your feet, an enormous underground parking lot and during that time it was decided to reduce the amount of military structures in the area (we are entering an area that was devastated by bombings during the war) by replacing them with green areas, making the neighbourhood rather pleasant.
When you reach Via Livorno, turn your gaze to the left to catch a glimpse of one of the most beautiful churches in Milan, la Chiesa di Santa Maria della Passione. Further down, and always to your left you will find a rationalist building left to decay over time, a real pity! This was the legendary Cinema Arti, the cinema of the children of Milan! The only cinema where, once upon a time, Walt Disney films were projected, the only one that thought to bring cinema to children! Now all that remains are memories, and for those who anxiously waited in line at the entrance, maybe also bit of melancholy!
At the traffic light cross what was once the Cerchia dei Navigli, more precisely this stretch called Via Umberto Visconti di Modrone… on the other side of the water canal, that is no longer there, the road is called Via Borgogna.
The water, because, yes, in this area it was once possible to travel by water. It was even once possible to cross over to the other side of the canal across a small bridge, that has now been moved to Sempione Park, il Ponte delle Sirenette (the little mermaids bridge), or how it was usually called by the people of Milan: “ponte delle sorelle Ghisini” because of the material used to build it. It was also called il Ponte degli Innamorati (lovers Bridge) by romantics.
The Navigli were covered up during the inter-war period, and since it happened all people have been said is “Milan would be so gorgeous if the Navigli were uncovered”… How ironic!
You definitely won’t have missed, in the corner on your right, the magnificent Magnolai Obovata.. every year it announces the arrival of spring to motorists stuck in traffic, through its incredible flowering. Although, it’s hard to know if they actually notice it as they angrily blow their horns!
Here, in Via Borgogna, the only visible buildings are those of the “reconstruction” period … further on, however, on the corner of Via Cino del Duca, you will be surprised. On the right, before the two porches, the last two remaining gems that lived through the bombings. The first, taller one, that only has the front remaining, is the house in which the author, Berchet grew up. The other, clearly, was an old Bakery.
Even further down the road, the noble Palazzo Visconti di Modrone, at n°8 of Via Cino del Duca. The building of it, in 1600s, was ordered by the Spanish Count, Carlos Bolagnos. By the 1700s the palazzo was already famous amongst the people of Milan due to its exuberant style compared to the more conservative Milanese architecture, that was more inclined to lavishly decorate interiors than exteriors.
A curious face to a neighbourhood that was completely re-built after the war!
Between the end of Via Borgogna, Largo Toscanini and the intersection with Corso Europa is where Piazza San Babila begins, and on the right under the enormous Toro Assicurazioni building is the central attraction of the square. A monument dedicated to her, actually, dedicated to the whole of Lombardy! It is the “I monti, I laghi, I fiumi della Lombardia” (the mountains, the lakes and the rivers of Lombardy)… A pyramid base of red rock with a large sphere on top of it…. A fountain! With water that runs down the sides of the base and trickles in the round basin around it. Towards the centre of the square the water appears in a large basin similar to a lake, with a railing to lean over it. Further on there some little artificial mounds surrounded by greenery. This complex structure is supposed evoke Lombardy’s geographic characteristics.
The fountain has always been critisced by the Milanese, who have called it “panettone” (a type of cake), “budino” (pudding) or even “scopett del cess” (toilet brush).
However, this renowned square is not only remembered for its tribute to Lombardy’s flora.. Built in the 30s due to the fascists attempt to empty the area and rebuild it with their architectural vision, it became, 40 years later, in the violent year of 68, a central hub for extreme right actionists. From this came the derogatory term “sanbabilino” for they kind of people that hung around that area. Thank god, that time has now passed and now the square is used by thousands of people every day, who walk, buy sell, stroll, run on it.. A real commercial square!
Overlooking the square there are the Torre Snia Visocsa (the citys first skyscraper), the aforementioned, imposing Palazzo del Toro, that includes the Teatro Nuovo and, slightly out of the way, the beautiful Basilica di San Babila, which, thanks to its position, seems to stand by and observe as its surroundings morph over the years of historical, political and architectural changes.. both good and bad!
From the square you will see Corso Europa branch out, right behind the mountain Corso Vittorio Emanuele that leads straight to Piazza Duomo, at the end of the widening of the road you will find Corso Matteotti that leads towards the famous Via Monte Napoleone and Piazza Filippo Meda. The other wide road you see is Corso Venezia that would take you back to the caselli di Porta Venezia! Continuing on Corso Matteotti take note of the oblique road on the right; it is Via Monte Napoleone, it is one of the 4 streets, along with Via Manzoni, Via della Spiga and Corso Venezia dal make up the famous Quadrilato della Moda (the quadrilateral of fashion).
Walking along the the Quadrilato is a unique experience for tourists. They take in the magic atmosphere of Milan; from the lights and shops, the elegance of the atelier, the colourful windows to the charm of the perfumeries. Most importantly they will never tire of the world’s best brands: Armani, Versace, Alberta Ferretti, Dolce e Gabbana, Prada, Fendi, Louis Vuiton, Chanel, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Bulgari, Cartier, Valentino and Gianfranco Ferrè, all present in the area.
The heart of the neighbourhood is Via Monte Napoleone, considered to be one of the world’s most prestigious and expensive streets, up there with 5th Avenue in New York and Avenue des Champs Elysees in Paris.
However, right now you don’t have time, over there there is a wonderful sculpture just waiting for you! Get to Piazza Filippo Meda and his marvellous “disco Solare” (solar disk).
Piazza Meda, a location that should not be underestimated! Although, here too there is a rather uniform style of architecture around the square, almost indistinguishable to that of San Babila or Corso Matteotti, if you look closely at the end of the square you can catch a glimpse of old Milan… this lovely square, Piazzetta Belgioioso, is a real gem… in addition, at the end of it, Manzoni’s, author of the “Promessi Sposi” (Betrothed), house! The Bronze sun at the centre of the square is a sculpture by the famous sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro. This work of art has been moved around countless times, especially due to the building of the underground parking lot mentioned earlier on. Let’s say that that the sculpture speaks for its self, and it is, like all of the sculptor’s work, an amazing geometric form, split down the middle to show the mechanism and meshes inside! Overlooking the square there is the majestic Banca Popolare di Milano building. Built in the 30s with a rather Neoclassical style, especially in regards to the columns and tympanum.. which surprisingly is inside.. The height of the atrium and the impressive dome, 18 metres high and covering about 1000m squared, are really fascinating! Furthermore, at the centre of the room; another beautiful bronze sculpture by Pomodoro: “Movimento” (movement). Just think, this bank allowed visits to the vault just to see the enormous steel door that weighs 180 tons!
Now, turn left towards Corso Vittorio Emanuele, along Via San Paolo, a road which is neither ugly nor pretty. However at n°10 you will find a building from the renaissance period: Palazzo Spinola.
The straight edged and precise exterior is no indication to the lavish interior design… the ball room, the silver room, the gold room.. in short, a really incredible residence that nowadays houses the Società del Giardino ( Garden Society); a cultural society.
Further on, still to your left, you will find yourself in a small, rather conventional, bland square. However, what is behind you is far from bland!
This is Piazza Liberty. The name comes from the winding, intricate decorations on the front façade of the main building in the square. Something doesn’t seem right… the Palazzo della Toro Assicurazioni, the building seems a lot more recent than its decorations, but how come?
We will tell you right away: the amazing bas-relief, all over this façade once belonged to another building in Corso Vittorio Emanuele; the Cinema Mediolanum. A building that was very representative of this Milanese liberty style and one of the most intricate ones. Sadly it did not survive to the WWII bombings, however, some of the façade did. It was then taken, refurbished and added this new building a decade later!
You are now in Milan’s most famous Corso!
Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the first Milanese road to become strictly for pedestrian in the distant 80s! You’ll only pass through a short section of it, thee one closest to the Duomo! This “artery” of the city has always been here, although it has changed names countless times: from Corsia dei Servi to then become Corso Francesco, until finally, for the Unification of Italy, it is given the name that it still has today.
Before becoming the key location for “low cost” brands”, Corso Vittorio Emanuele was once famous for the concentration and number of Cinemas found along it… Many of them have now become, still with their impressive staircases, homes of high street brands like Zara, Gap etc.
A few more steps and you will land infront of the city’s central cathedral: the Duomo of Milan!
Start from the back, make your way along the apse, parallel to the best looking side, the side where you can still imagine, and breath the atmosphere there once was! Here, in front of you, is Palazzo dei Canonici: it is part of the archbishopric complex from the XIV century. Further on to your left you will find a real wonder!
You are now standing before the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) , a wonderful building opposite which you will always find endless queues of people waiting to visit one of its renowned temporary exhibitions, that over the last 10 years have made it into one of the culturally richest and most prestigious places in the city, despite the bombings in 1943 leaving it ruins with countless plans to rebuild it seemingly never being completed.
The vast opening the building overlooks, other than imparting grace to the façade, also allowed, over the last 15 years, for some fantastic art installations that have given this scorcio meneghino that feeling of globalisation typical of great metropolises.
The history of the Palazzo Reale is linked to that of Milan, and forever will be. It’s origins are incredibly ancient.
Almost everyone that has ruled Milan has lived in this palace! Lords, Lordships, the Austrians, Napoleon and the Savoia.. all of them at some point laid their hands on it. With every new owner it would change slightly and it would gain a few more pieces of artwork, eventually reaching with the neoclassic transformation of Piernamini, its current appearance.
During the 1920s it became state property and was opened up to the public.
On it right there is the Argenario, and although it is from a completely different historical period it seems to fit in extremely well with Palazzo Reale.
The Palazzo dell’Argenario is made up of two factory buildings, typical of fascist architecture. It Overlooks Piazza Duomo and catches the gaze of those exiting the Galleria. At its centre a passage from Via Marconi onto Piazza Diaz seems to symbolise a “door” from the ancient to the modern city. If you look through this imaginary doorway, you see another Palazzo at the far end of Piazza Diaz. Famous for the presence, on the 15th floor, of the Terazza Martini (a roof terrace bar) that from 1958 has been a symbol of Milan’s international character. It is a location that marked an era: some of the most iconic cultural moments took place on the top floor of Palazzo Diaz, with the biggest names in international cinema introducing themselves to the Italian public.
If you keep peering down through Via Marconi, you’ll notice, on the left, another one of the city’s symbolic buildings: Torre Velasca, famous project from the 70s, inspired by Milan’s history it is considered by most as a tribute to Castello Sforzesco’s Torre del Filarete… by others, however, it has been nicknamed “Torre con le bretelle” (tower with suspenders) due to the buttresses that support the upper portion of it. Let’s get back to where we were… at the Argenario. Of the two portions, the one overlooking the Palazzo Reale’s open space is the Museo del 900 (museum of the 1900s). Opened in December 2010, it was born from the desire of to have a permanent location that collects and displays Italian sculptures and paintings from the XX century. Despite this, it often hosts contemporary exhibitions due it’s large available spaces and brightness of it rooms, which make it extremely charming, even when empty! A huge but discrete staircase joins the Palazzo Reale’s churchyard with the Museum without interfering with neoclassical architecture. The portion on the right houses offices of the municipality, so it’s not open to the public, but we guarantee that looking out onto that part of the city from the Museo del 900 is a great experience!
Like all public squares, Piazza Duomo is always extremely busy, there is a constant hustle and bustle of people walking or running across it, people sitting cover the steps and others try and chase pidgeons, that nowadays don’t even run away! It’s almost like they don’t know how to fly anymore…they wander around unperturbed by people, an when it gets cold you can find them sitting on the grates above the metro, soaking in the warm air. To really perceive the extent of the Duomo’s grandeur you have to look it from the far end of the square. This isn’t the place to try and describe or explain the Duomo’s architecture, just know that it took over 400 years to build. It took so long that a saying now exists for when something seems to take forever: sembra la fabbrica del Duomo (it’s like the Duomo Factory).
The cathedral’s obvious Gothic style is brazenly shown off by the 3000 spires all over it… the tallest one, almost 100m tall, holds up the famous Madonnina, and although from the ground she seems small she is almost 5m tall!
You can climb up onto the Duomo, if you want… it’s only 200 steps!
For the lazier among us there is also an elevator, and if you prefer to save yourself the 12 euros, all you have to do is go to the top floor of the Rinascente, and look at it from there… still an unforgettable experience.
We’re not going to waste time by telling you how beautiful it inside, with its incredible stained glass windows. If you have time the Duomo museum is always open, and everything you can’t see in the cathedral is here!
One last thing.. not to scare you but, people say that around here there is a ghost, the ghost of a young bride, the Carlina. They say she climbed to the top of the cathedral with her husband, Renzino, on their wedding day, to then fall off the edge and disappear into the mist. Her body was never found and some say they see here outline in pictures they take in the cathedral.
Want to listen to her story as an audio fairy tale? You can find it at our exhibit “Per le vie della paura” (Through the scary ways)..
What to say about Vittorio Emanuele Gallery? A magnificent connection between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Scala.. and since it’s a cross you can access it from the sides too!
What is certain is that the center is dominated by the enormous iron and glass dome, typical of the experimental architecture of the time. It is spectacular, almost 50 meters tall! It lets in a large amount of light since its 4 arms are surrounded by iron and glass, also making it extremely light considering its size. For almost 100 years, this galleria was called Milan’s living room, since it was normal to find people here discussing politics or just chatting… after the WWII bombs destroyed most of it, it was rebuilt, but never became the meeting point it once was. Now it is a passage that the Milanese run through in a rush, and tourists are the main inhabitants of it, and (almost) only customers to the extremely expensive bars around there. If you’re in search of some good luck (who isn’t?) they say that turning 3 times (whilst balancing on your right heel) on the bull’s (painted in the middle of the gallery)“balls” is said to bring good fortune!
A fact that not many know: the architect that designed the gallery, Giuseppe Mengoni, saw the completion of his project but never got to enjoy it: the day of the inauguration he fell from some extremely high scaffolding.. talk about irony of fate. Some put forth the theory of suicide over the criticisms of his work.. Now that Milan offers a walk up by the galleries ceiling, on a walkway 40 m in the air, let’s hope no one follows Mengoni’s unlucky fate!
As you leave the square, continuing along Via Giuseppe Mengoni (the same one) towards Via Santa Margherita, on your left turn your gaze towards the pedestrian road, Via dei Mercanti.
Not far ahead, the road opens up to a delightful square: Piazza dei Mercanti.
This is the very area that Milan was born from. There are many stories and legends about this area. The fact remains that for a very long time represented the centre of political and commercial activity of the entire city, and the beauty and diversity of the overlooking buildings around it are proof of this.
You will come across a flowerbed with a sculpture. This is the statue of Carlo Cattaneo, an important actor during the 5 days of Milan and great supporter of the Milan’s liberation; he played a key role against the Austrian oppression.
From here Via Santa Margherita begins… you’ll be surrounded on both side by beautiful buildings, until you’ll eventually find, on your left, another one of Milan’s gems: Piazza della Scala, a lovely square that is named after the famous theatre (Teatro alla Scala) that is on your left.
The Teatro alla Scala is one of the most famous theatres in the world, and all the world envies us for it! It was desired and built by and Austrian queen about 250 years ago and its name comes from a church that was torn down to create the necessary space to build it, the Santa Maria alla Scala church.
Stand in the center of the square to properly take in its beauty, proportions and its marvels!
It is, by all means, a neoclassical building but is discrete and far from overbearing, even after the modernization of the stage machinery by the Swiss architect, Mario Botta.
The Teatro della Scala has hosted the greatest and most illustrious composers, but it’s history is definitely tied to the great Giuseppe Verdi. You can’t count the number of concerts, ballets and plays that have taken place on this stage. However, what can be said for sure is that, since the great restoration that took place about 2 years ago, the Scala has increased its activities: from around 190 different events to 284, between plays, concerts, ballets and other events on and offsite.
Opposite the theatre there is the Mayor of Milan’s building, Palazzo Marino.
This building gets its name from its original owner, a Genoese by the name of Tommaso Marino. He was a very capable business man that lived about 500 years ago, after putting aside a huge fortune he decided to build a home worthy of his riches. He to payed no attention to expenses and tore down houses in the area to create more space for his.
Unfortunately, his vision was never completed, even though he lived for a very long life, almost 100 years! It is said that building was never completed because the Milanese disliked him and thought he was dishonest, and to punish and his body awful body guards he always traveled with, they put a curse on his house: “this pile of rocks, put together with the result of many robberies, with either burn, or will fall in ruins or will be robbed by another thief”… the man actually died without a penny left and without his house ever being completed. After his death the building was seized by the Spanish government, then by the Austrian one and risked burning down many times during the WWII bombings!
Today, it houses the mayor, vice mayor, the heads of council and other important municipal offices.
The interiors of the building are truly splendid and the decorations beautiful.. starting from the entrance courtyard!
Furthermore, from this year, the Milan Municipality has made the made the Tempere, Arazzi, Trinità and Risurrezione rooms open to the public in an attempt to “give hidden places back to the citizens”.
“With this project we intend to give back to the citizens what we consider to be a common good, the ‘Milanese’s home’. We’ll recover lost locations that are now being used as offices, giving value to their beauty and prestige like never before.” Chiara Bisconti (councilor of free time and quality of life).
And don’t forget that these palaces can looked at from behind as well… according to manoxmano, from Piazza San Fedele, Palazzo Marino isn’t too bad!
Now leave behind Piazza della Scala and continue along one of the nicest roads of the city, a road that reminds us of how Milan once was; cobbled road surrounded by beautiful houses.
We’re talking about Via Alessandro Manzoni. It is unthinkable to try and describe all the incredible things you will come across! The Museo Poldi Pezzoli is a must, it is pinkish building on your right, at number 12, with flags outside. You can’t miss it! The museum holds countless pieces of priceless art, its architecture is thought out to be able to hold and protect them forever. It is considered a house-museum, since once upon a time (mid 1800s) the Pezzoli family lived in it, of which, the founder was a huge collector of art.
Not far further on, on your right, you will cross Via Monte Napoleone again, the famous shopping street. Opposite it, on the left, there is a small opening: Via Croce Rossa…
Towards the end of this pedestrian road there is an important sculpture, a monument by the (now deceased) architect Aldo Rossi in honor of our 7° president of the republic Sandro Pertini. It dates back to 1990 and in the architect’s words:
“Conceived as a small Lombard square, a place where people can meet, eat a sandwich or take a group picture. It is made up of 2 rows of Lombard mulberry trees, that are now disappearing from the landscape, benches lamp posts and flooring made with rose marble. At the extremity of the square there is the staircase cube […]”
On the corner of this delightful pedestrian area, the colossal Armani headquarters! Everything that concerns Armani is now all concentrated in this building… clothing, accessories, furniture, food, coffee, Hotel&Resort.. let say that, after 40 years since its birth, its incorrect to still only call it “casa di moda” (house of fashion)! At the road you will see the ancient Porta Nuova (another old gateway) of the city, when a smaller Milan was still surrounded by walls, that led to the Navigli area.
Going around the Palazzo Armani, you will end up in Via dei Giardini, a road lined with trees that runs parallel to Via Manzoni. You will see the back of Palazzo Petrini and other beautiful buildings.
The name of this road wasn’t chosen by chance: originally this area was made up solely of gardens, to be specific by one large park: Parco di Villa Perego. It used to, 250 years ago, extend all the way from the Perego residence (Via Borgonuovo 14) all the way to the Giardini Perego as they are today. What is left today is just a small portion of what there was before 1925, when for ease of access the Perego family made an agreement with the Municipality that reduced the private park greatly.
The Giardini Perego, which unfortunately you won’t come across, overlook Via dei Giardini, and at the highest point are a delightful example of and English garden, despite its small side they contain some great and very uncommon wooden games!
Further on the road changes name and becomes Via Monte Pietà.
This Florentine style building is called “Ca’ de sass” (in Milanese: house of stone) , by the Milanese. It once was the head office of the Cariplo, the savings bank for all of the Lombard province, and was built by a Florentine architect in 1870. A curious detail about this structure is the design of its vault. It was built by digging a 10000 meters cubed area beneath the building. Inside this “hole” there is a submergible raft that holds up and entire 5 floor underwater structure. When, in 1941, Cariplo changed venue, this under water structure was used an anti-aircraft hideout for the city’s treasure: the Duomo’s, Brera Pinacoteca’s and Ambrosiana Pinacoteca’s precious artwork.
Opposite, on the right, another famous palazzo that the road gets its name from: Il Monte di Pietà. Restructured by Piermanini in the 700s, the building was originally from the 400s and is still a Monte dei Pegni wanted by Ludovico il Moro.
Not far ahead, at the intersection with Via Verdi, road that would take you back to Piazza della Scala, you will find the new Cariplo headquarters… if you turn around whilst continuing along Via dell’Orso you will see its true grandeur.. an impressive group of columns frames the entrance to the bank!
This is the start of a very special neighborhood, Brera. It is unique and is considered one of the city’s main attractions! You will have noticed that as you walk along Via dell’Orso the buildings begin to change style. This is an older neighborhood and the road will eventually lead to Via cusani: small houses with little roads that run between them, typical of rural village (Via Ciovasso/Via Ciovassino).
At the intersection, on your right there is Via Pontevetero and on your left Via Broletto.. keep going straight. Behind you there is a huge Poster ad for Armani, that’s been there for so long (over 20 years) that people have started to identify this area as: “You know, the place with the big Armani poster”.
Pass by Via Cusani giving the beautiful Palazzo Cagnola (1800) a glance and end up in the Largo Cairoli.
The statue in the middle of the square is of Garibaldi riding a horse. Both horse and horse rider are facing the centre of the city as they triumphantly enter it after Italy’s unification!
Here you are near the Castello Sforzesco! To be more precise you are in front of the two pyramid structures built for the, now concluded, Expo!
I present to you Expo Gate! The Milanese are not too fond of these two white structures, they say they have blocked the view of the Castle from Via Dante… they’re not wrong, but as they say: “What is beautiful isn’t beautiful, but what is liked is beautiful”… but the question we pose ourselves is: “Who likes it?”. Let’s say that, esthetics aside, many things have been organized around the Expo Gate and it has been a rich reference point for all that concerned the Expo. There isn’t a week day or week end that an event isn’t organized around it, for both adults and Children!
It was created to introduce people to the Universal Exposition – EXPO 2015, and to accompany it through the course of the event. It opened in May 2014, “The city’s identity uses it as a stage in which it performs the theme of Expo Milano 2015: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. A meeting place, to compare and share, open to all, Milanese and visitors; it is a symbolic door to the world, to the atmosphere, to the Expo.” Its position wasn’t chosen by chance, it is the epicenter of the Universal Exposition of 1906.
10/20 Km: From Cadorna Station to Monte Stella Park, skirting CityLife
Who knows, maybe between the pyramids you might be able to catch a glimpse of the fountain in front of the Castello Sforzesco beneath the Torre Filarete. We’ll talk about the castle later, when you literally bump into it. Now keep going along Foro Buonaparte. The first stretch is lined with trees and leads to Piazzale Luigi Cadorna.
On this square there is Milan’s second station: Cadorna Station .
The front of the station and square’s “restyling” project was given to the, now deceased, architect, Gae Aulenti and was initially criticized by many, but it is safe to say that, aside from the confusing roads around it, it was a job well done.
Let’s take a minute on the square/fountain/sculpture project: you can’t have miss the tangle of threat and huge needle.. in reality there is only one threat, but made up of three different colors.. but what is it exactly? It is sculpture called “Ago, Filo e Nodo” (needle, thread and knot). The huge steel needle, almost 20 meters tall, and the multicolored threat that comes out of the square in another area with a knot, was conceived as a tribute to Milan’s hard working spirit and to the world of fashion, were Milan is one of the world’s most important cities. It is supposed to evoke the idea of a metro train passing through an underground tunnel, hence the choice of the three colors: red, yellow, green.. colors of the main metro lines in Milan! And who knows maybe a lilac and blue thread will be added too!
Once you leave the station square your surroundings will start to change again: round here, by the Castello and Parco Sempione, the houses are majestic and green areas definitely aren’t lacking! In the park that runs alongside Via Paleocapa, if you look closely you might spot, the surprisingly tall, Torre Branca, and the beautiful Palazzo dell’Arte that is more commonly referred to as La Triennale by the Milanese. It is this building that houses la Triennale that, founded in Monza in 1923, has set as its objective the stimulation of interactions, from industry to the production world and applied arts. It is an international, cultural institution that that produces art, design, architecture, fashion, cinema and communication events. The exhibitions organized are always extremely prestigious ones and involve designers, artists and architects of national and international fame, as well as often involving stylists that have the power to influence social trends. Inside the Palazzo dell’Arte you will also find the Triennale Design Museum, the Teatro dell’Arte and the Biblioteca del Progetto. A delightful bar overlooks the gardens and some pieces of artwork, like I bellissimi Bagni Misteriosi de De Chirico, a really surprising metaphysical piece.
There it is, behind the Triennale, the Torre Branca.
The Torre Branca was built during the V Triennale di Milano in 1933, but was closed to the public in 1972 as it was not considered safe anymore. When built it was initially called Torre Littoria, and soon after was renamed Torre del Parco until the Branca Society insisted on a renovation, so that in 2002 it was again accessible and was given the name it still has today.
The tower is almost 110 metres tall and is made of steel tubes. It structure is so light that it is almost invisible. There is a comfortable and convenient elevator to take it up to the top in less than a minute, where you can admire all of Milan! Climbing upon on a beautiful day is a really incredible experience! You can see everything, even the Alps! From this height you definitely be able to recognize the most famous Milanese buildings, those that stand out the most are the tallest of all! The Pirelli skyscraper, the Torre Velasca, the Duomo with its Madonnina, Torre Breda (piazza della Repubblica), the Torre Galfa (between via Galvani and via Fara), the two twin towers at Garibaldi station, the Palazzo Lombardia, the new buildings in Porta Nuova (Unicredit Tower, Torre Solea, Torre Solaria, Torre Diamante, il Bosco Verticale) and, towards the old Fiera the straight, the bent, the curved: skyscrapers that have not yet been finished (except the straight) whose real names are. Respectively: Torre Isozaki, Torre Hadid and Torre Libeskind, named after those who designed them.
Continuing along the green roads lined with trees you will have, on your right, Piazza Sempione, who’s border is set by the lovely arco trionfale, L’Arco della Pace. Whilst right in frontof it, it acts as a frame for the castle and Torre, that are more than 1km away! Unfortunately, to see this you’re going to have to wait until the turning point… on the way back you will get to see this beautiful “framed” image!
Now leave the Arco dell Pace and head in the opposite direction, on via Mario Pagano. The road will open up very quickly into, Largo Quinto Alpini, but keep going straight..
Look now, in the second stretch of road the vegetation gets thicker and thicker, and overlooking this “shady” road, some of the nicest classic housing!
A soon as you walk into this “forest”, notice how, on your right, behind that high wall with that archway over the gate, there is an army barrack.
If you catch a glimpse of all the side roads in the area you’ll get an idea of what a gem this neighborhood really is!
Predominantly residential streets walking distance from commercial roads… what luxury! You definitely notice that when you get the intersection (and you’ll know what intersection we’re talking about), the city changes: everything grows exponentially in size and the traffic seems to suddenly swallow you, even though you’re at the edge of a small park (Parco Guido Vergani or Giardini di Pagano for the Milanese).
Still straight ahead, after the road takes a slight bend, its name will change to Via Cherubini. You will cross an important artery of Milan’s Urban/commercial network: Corso Vercelli.
Looking left and right you’ll see it go straight into the distance. Super commercial street, not appealing for going for walks but loved by the shopaholics!
After the intersection with Via Cherubini there is Via Cimarosa.
From here on a very long stretch of road with little on it other than houses and trees. The older more impressive house turn into more modern buildings that seem to get taller and taller. Then, a “U” turn that will take you to Via Washington and the atmosphere starts to merge to what is was before, in a more historical context…
At the end of via Washington, between the two almost identical buildings, there is Piazza Piemonte. Just think that these two buildings, that are reasonably tall, were once considered skyscrapers! Buildings were once not allowed to exceed 28 meters, but these two were given a special permit to be 38 due to the “vastness” of the square they overlook.
Nowadays, the Unicredit tower by Cesar Pelli in Piazza Gae Aulenti is 232 meters tall!
In 2009 Piazza Piemonte was subject to a partial renovation that added a green area and three sculptures, by Aligi Sassu, same artist that made the Monumento al Finanziere. During the same time period the Teatro Nazionale that is in front of you, built in the 20s, was undergoing a complete renovation. Not only the structure of the building but also to the performances, as a Broadway style model was introduced where one play would be presented for an entire season.
Leave the theatre on your left and keep going along Via Michelangelo Buonarotti, a commercial and also residential road, which will lead you to Piazza Buonarotti.
A the center of the roundabout, always surrounded by traffic, is the statue of Giuseppe Verdi, the well-known composer. On your left, the marvelous Casa dei Musicisti.
La Casa dei Musicisti is a Retirement home for singers and musicians that Verdi strongly desired, in 1896 it was built at n°29 of the square. The structure, in Neogothic style, was designed by Camillo Boito, brother of the famous musician Arrigo and close friend of maestro Verdi’s, who said, about the building: “Of all my works, my favorite is the house I had built in Milan for old singers that were not graced by luck and in their youth did not save their money. Poor and dear partners of my life!” Giuseppe Verdi is buried here, with his wife, Giuseppina Strepponi.
Turn onto Via Monte Rosa, a road of large residential housing, and continue along it until Pazza Amendola, a rather boring square. You see that mass of yellow lines? It is a well-known sculpture by Gianfranco Pardi, called Danza (dance). All those broken up lines represent movement, dynamicity and change. The sculpture was the first step towards the transformation of the neighborhood with the construction of futuristic buildings, like the City-Life’s three towers. Piazza Amendola, which has always been rather anonymous, will now serve as a connection between the historical and “future” parts of the city.
Her is what the artist said about his work: it is a tangle of iron “because a compact sculpture would block the view of the cars that have to drive around it.”
From one square to another… Piazza Giulio Cesare. You’ll be standing in front of the splendid Fontana dell Quattro Stagioni, built in 1927. This fountain, renovated and brought back to its original glory just recently, will be the new, southern entrance to the City Life park/neighborhood.
This is the second biggest construction site in Milan. The area used to be, up until a couple of years ago, home to the Fiera di Milano. Even though it is now an institution, it has to be said that it never really fit in with the stylish homes that you can spot between all the construction.
The Fiera (fair) obviously brought a lot of traffic to area, which wasn’t received very well. Let’s see how City Life will do! It will be a new “center” for the city, not only a huge new residential area. The three aforementioned skyscrapers will be the irrefutable main attractions, but at the foot of them there will be a large commercial area, well connected by the new MM5 (lilac) metro line.
In addition the all this there will be lots of open area and even more residential areas, some of which have partially been built already… they might seem a little more suited for the Ligurian seafront, but we’re sure that altogether we will appreciate the final project… also because, after Parco Sempione and the Giardini Pubblici di Indro Montanelli the City Life Public park, with a total surface area of 17000m^2, will be the biggest in central Milan.
Make your way across the whole complex (Viale Cassiodoro – Piazza VI Febbraio – Viale Severino Boezio) until you arrive at the famous Velodromo Vigorelli (a velodrome).
The Velodromo Maspes Vigorelli is a historical sport structure that was inserted in yet another renovation project to fix the various misfortunes it has had over the years. It is time for it to see the light again! Even if, it already does!
From the exterior it’s hard to grasp how nice it is inside, open in the middle it is extremely well lit and light, the amazing wooden track that runs around the covered area was once called the Vigorelli’s “magic track”.
Track Cycling saw its most important races take place on this track; 4 world championships, it was three times the arrival for the Giro D’Italia and numerous world records were broken on this track.. Now it is left in ruins and the grass field in the middle is used for American football matches.. Just think, the 24th june 1965 it hosted The Beatles’ only ever concert in Milan!
Your run will continue along Via Gattamelata, a residential road, to then turn left in Via Colleoni, right in the middle of what used to be the old Fair. You will pass along MiCo-Milano Congressi, Europe’s biggest congress center, then turning left on Viale Scarampo, you will be beside FieraMIlanoCity. It was decided that this area area, after Alfa Romeo moved away, should be remodeled to allow an extension of the old fiera with these pavilions (by studio Bellini), however, they are no longer used for either!
Continuing along Viale Scarampo you will run into Piazza Gino Valle, an extremely modern square. In this square there 3 brand new buildings, including the new, but extremely recognizable because of its red/black curves, Casa Milan! Within it you will find a museum full of trophies, images and memories of all of AC Milan’s history.
A great exhibit, with everything in red and black, obviously!
Further down, a green area filled with strange spirals, cones and half-moons; it is the brand new park!
It is the Parco del Portello… Although it hasn’t yet been completed it is especially loved by runners and if one runs up the spiral whilst another runs down they will never meet!
The park project, called Spiral of Time, was designed by Charles Jencks and the Studio LAND based in Milan.
The park is made up of flat areas and 3 hills, one of which is distinctly recognizable as a truncated cone. A the top of this particular hill there is a steel sculpture (already tainted by graffiti writers, even before the park is finished) of a Double helix DNA. The other levels of the park have sinuous shapes that create all sorts of different spaces: amphitheaters, areas for the elder or and areas for children… in-between two of the hills there is a body of water that seems to create another park with the reflection of what’s around it. The most isolated part of the park is called the Time Garden: a checkered path made up of 365 black and white tiles (like the days of the year). Other symbols connect to time are scattered around the park, with references to months, the seasons etc.. Us at manoxmano strongly recommend you got check it out, and give our stop-motion video about it a look.
You are now almost out of porta and Viale Alcide de Gasperi is really long! As you travel along it, on you will be alongside another Milanese hill, a lot less recent but with a rather interesting story.
The Parco Monte Stella has always been called by the Milanese the “montagnetta di San Siro” (San Siro’s little mountain) because of its proximity to the neighborhood. However, it neither a hill nor a mountain! It is an artificial relief that was initially formed by a built of rubble from the Allies’ bombings during the Second World War as well materials from the demolition of the bastion after 1945. The project of the upgrading of the rubble was given to Pietro Bottoni completed it for the VIII Triennale di Milano and dedicated it to his wife Elsa Stella, hence the name. The Montagnetta is unique, as you cross over it and look down you can see bricks and tiles, remnants of a bombed and injured Milan.. It is like walking on the City’s history. This 50 meter tall hill has always sparked the Milanese’s creativity; people run up and down it as a form of training but it has also been skied on! Nowadays all it takes are a few centimeters of snow for kids to head up, snowboard underarm, and attempt all sorts of crazy stunts! Just think, in the 80s some special ski races were even organized on it, like the Slalom parallel, obviously with a little help from artificial snow!
Others only walk up it on clear days to enjoy the view.. it is like have the city at your feet, beautiful! Today Parco Monte Stella is famous because, for the last ten years it has inside of it ( the only one in the world), a Giardino dei Giusti (garden of the right),: a garden that commemorates those who put their life at risk to save others from racial persecution… and every year, the Milan Municipality, adds another cherry blossom in honor of another important cultural and civil personality.
Before circumnavigating Parco Monte Stella, on the corner with Via Sant’Elia, Milan honors le 50 victims (half of which were Italian) of the Nassiriya attacks between 2003 and 2006, during the Iraqi War. Here, by Piazzale Kennedy there is a garden in their honor that deserve a look.
The upgrading of the Montagnetta, in 1947, was part of a much vaster project that included the neighborhood around Via Sant’Elia, in front of you. It is the QT8 (quartiere triennale 8°), it is known as the Quartiere Sperimentale (experimental Neighborhood) but still represents a great example of urban livability!
Whilst on Via Diomede, with the Hippodromes fence on your right, on left you will see lots of small villas that, along with the skyscrapers in area, constitute this small neighborhood.
20/32 Km: The hippodrome, San Siro and Trenno Park to the end of Certosa di Garegnano
It is a real pity that you can’t see over this fence! I would be great to catch glimpse of the horses, even through a hedge! Who knows, maybe, if it were quiet, you’d be able to hear them gallop…
For now, since the entrance to the Hippodrome is on Via Caprilli, you’ll have to make do with Piazzale Lotto. Here there is some architecture from the 1900s that is really worth noting: the Lido di Milano.
The Lido, what the Milanese have always called it, was inaugurated in 1932, and gave the Milanese a pleasant bathing spot. It was part of an ambitious urban project that aimed to mold Milan into a real “sport city”.
It is a special place that, despite never having hosted competitive events, was built to provide the Milanese people with entertainment! A huge swimming pool with an island in the middle of it, for years was a valid alternative to the seaside for the Milanese left in the city in summer.. some years ago they went as far as covering the area surrounding the pool with sand! It was a place of fun, that hosted, aside from the sports, parties and dances throughout the summer. Nowadays, from the outside it doesn’t look as classy and elegant as it once did but it is still rich with sport a reactional equipment! Since the Lido become of public property, whilst stilling keeping its run-down look, it increased its sport equipment as well as opening the “Lidoteca” and a “minigolf” course.
Continuing along Via Caprilli, you will still be beside the wall, however, it is now definitely decorated!
This stretch of wall was used in the Stadio Street Players event, a gathering of almost 200 graffiti writers, organized in September 2013 by the Stradearts association. The writers decorated the wall with horse racing themed graffiti. This year, 300 artists chosen by the Associazione Culturale Stradearts (cultural street art association) performed at the Graffiti Writing and Street Art Stadio Street Players Jam and were able to paint over 2km of wall. The project, which was Expo 2015 themed, left a permanent and precious artistic contribution for Milan.
Now, accompanied by the “urban Artists” you will make your way to Piazzale dello Sport, where you will feel like you’ve been transporting into a different era.
Here is the Ippodromo del Galoppo! There is no need to head to the stables to see a horse… This bronze one is magnificent! It was drawn by Leonardo da Vinci for the Prince of Milan. Leonardo was supposed to design and have it built but, unfortunately, it was actually made until many years later, when it galloped into this square, 15 years ago!
From here you can also access a great Orto Botanico (botanical orchard) and, for a few years now, at the center of the track a practice golf course… fantastic!
But let’s get back to horse racing, to be more precise, this hippodrome. It was built about 100 years ago and was, for the Milanese, a place of entertainment and leisure. Along with the Lido it was part of the Città dello Sport project. Inside there still are some liberty style grandstands and when they are races at the night the nocturnal scenography is incredible! It is an extremely suggestive location, a huge almost surreal green space where the smell of countryside floods your nose and you can enjoy the incredible alpine panorama!
Leaving the hippodrome on your right you won’t be able to miss… the San Siro Stadium!
The stadium is not actually called San Siro and hasn’t been for over 30 years now! It is Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, who man say was the greatest Inter Milan player! His champion caliber story took place 80 years ago when he, with the Italian National team, won two World Cups! He started playing at the age of 6 with children from his neighborhood using bunched up rags as a ball! His first pair of boobs he was given from an admirer, and when he showed up to his first try out with A.C. Milan he was turned away for being too scrawny, hence the beginning of his career at Inter Milan!
Let’s get back to the Stadium: it is the biggest in Italy in terms of capacity, with 81,227 places (of which 80,018 in the three rings), as well as being one of the most well know football stadiums in the world, enough to be nicknamed the “Scala del Calcio” (scala – the famous theater- of football). At the time of its construction (around 1930) the stadium belonged on to A.C. Milan, and Inter Milan played at the Arena Civica di Milano. The construction of the third ring, the towers and roof were all, in 1990, for the Football World Cup.
The new roof caused numerous problems for the grass pitch, since the grass was unable to grow due to lack of light and air. The problem was solved by mixing real grass with synthetic one, and preventing from looking, like had happened numerous times before, like the grass had just been planted.
On the right of the Stadium a, now completely abandoned, structure…
Le Scuderie (stables) De Montel: “In the post war period Football became more important that horse racing in the hearts of the Milanese entrepreneurs, they were progressively left abandoned and looted. Nothing is left of the Belle Époque atmosphere that the liberty style constructions evoked. No suggestion or memory of that, beginning of 20th century Milan. Only crumbling walls and roofs that even the most expensive of renovations would struggle to bring back to their former glory. The only thing left that among that pile of rubble and rubbish is able to through a glimpse at the past: the clock on one of the towers, with the hands stuck at half past midday (or midnight) of who knows what day and of what year.” (Riccardo Rosa, 24/02/14 – Corriere della Sera).
They were amongst the best stables in Italy, and in the fields surrounding this area ran and trained the best pure breeds from Macherio, Ortello and Orsenigo.. not to mention the cavalieri (riders) di Savoia that came here to ride undisturbed!
With the arrival of the fascist dictatorship and after the period of Nazism De Montel didn’t stand a chance and the stables became missionary charities, but the constant need of need of maintenance meant that they become less and less competitive and they entered a period of slow but obvious decline.
In the 80s they become property of the municipality and this marked the end of the decline. It is hard to imagine that someone will take them over and renovate them, since they are so hard to salvage, but we’re optimistic. Between thinking positively and thinking negatively, we may as well think positively since it takes the same amount of effort! A pity, nonetheless!
Leave the Stadium and head down Via Achille and then along Via Federico Tesio until you arrive at Parco Di Trenno, also called Parco Aldo Aniasi, to commemorate a famous Milan mayor.
The Parco Aldo Aniasi is one of the biggest parks in the city… more than a park it looks like open country side! Which it was until late 1970s when the municipality decided to make it into a park in all aspects. During the Second World War it was a an aviation camp and after was used for cultivating, still today there are farmsteads: Cassinetta di Trenno in the north and Cascina Bellaria in the south. Within the green area there is also a cemetery for fallen Anglo-American soldiers from the Second World War the (Milan War Cemetery).
Nowadays the park is considered to be a Sport park: with equipment and venues for boules, tennis, football, skating, cycling (track used also for jogging), fitness trail, basketball, volleyball, beach-volley and rugby.
For a few years now, inside the park there is an area called “Bosco in Città” (forest in City).
It is a park within a park, we actually, a forest with a park!
In the 1970s Italia Nostra had a big project in mind: to create an immense green area for citizens to use. Bosco in Città represents the first example of urban forestation in the country. There are forests, trails and paths, bodies of water, clearings and urban gardens.
An old farmstead is the operational center of the “forest” where all kinds of information can be acquired to enjoy it at its fullest potential. Italia Nostra obtained, from the Milan Municipality, permission to use the agricultural land to create this forest inside the urban fabric and got the whole city involved. It is remembered as a great community event where thousands of volunteers came out and helped create this park.
Today the park is beautiful, with various bodies of water, streams that crisscross throughout to then forma little lake that has helped the development of a micro-climate and helped the growth of the flora and fauna.
Across the park, a small peduncle of it, towards Piazza Federico Bonola, is called Parco Sandro Pertini, in honor of the famous president of the Italian Republic. It is a calms and spacious oasis that is visited often by the people of the Gallaratese neighborhood. The space is recognizable from the tidy feel and the very ordered and methodic placement of trees and plants.
Now continue on Via Cilea, known in Milan for the presence of Vehicle registration buildings and the Internazionale Calcio Academy, who’s many pitches you can see from the road.
After a short stretch on Via Apennini, turn right (to go back towards the south) Via Gallarate. An artery that will take you, without a single turn, all the way to Vial Alfredo Pizzoli, to then go back on Via Gallarate.
In correspondence with this long Gallaratese stretch, on the other side of Viale Certosa, just for your information, there is a magnificent church, the Certosa di Garegnano, on Via Garegnano. In reality, when this church was built, into the XIV century this area was all open countryside, within the Garegnano village.
The Certosa di Garegnano is an abbey of surprising beauty, that very few know of. It is called the “Sistine Chapel” of Milan because the interior is full of amazing frescos. The peace and quiet in this place, in the middle of calm part of the city add to the magic more than anything else.
From Piazzale Luigi Accorso you will pass through, this time crossing it, the Zona del Portello again. You’ll be going down so you’ll have Parco del Portello on your right and will cross Piazza Gino Valle. And here is Casa Milan again, but this time you’ll be able to see the players silhouettes that “crown” the top of the building.
32/42 Km: Another look at Monte Stella to then continue to the end of the race, along the Bastioni of the city
You will see the Fieramilanocity pavilions again on Via Scarampo and after a brief stretch on Viale Teodorico, onto Via Gattamelata, to then reach the famous Corso Sempione from Piazzale Damiano Chiesa.
Corso Sempione: one of Milan’s most important radial roads.
Opened in 1801 as the first stretch of the road of Sempione (in Napoleonic, created to connect Paris and Milan), it is a very wide straight road with trees that line it, since it is Neoclassical it points directly to the Arco della Pace. It has obvious references to the Champs-Elysées in Paris, even if the urban penetration of the axis never came to fulfillment. After the Arco della Pace, in Milan there is a magnificent castle and in between them a splendid park, Parco Sempione! On this extremely long route we think Casa Rustici is definitely worth a look.
You’ll find it on your left at n°36, between Via Proacaccini and Via Mussi. Created by two well know architects from the Italian rationalist period, Pietro Lingeri and Giuseppe Terragni, Casa Rustic, was built from 1933 and 1935 and remains a prime example of this style.
What makes this building special is that it has apartments on the right and the left that are virtually connected by galleries, whilst on the last floor a, marvelous, single living unit, where the night area is divided from the day area by a long and wide corridor suspended over the building’s courtyard and the spacious terrace that acts as the building’s roof is also divided in two areas connected by a passage suspended above Via Sempione!
Let’s say it’s an apartment that you should suggest to anyone that suffer from vertigo!
Now you’re close to the pedestrian zone and, after the intersection where the traffic divides between Via Melzi d’Eril on the lefty and Via Antonio Canova on the right, you’ll be able to see, not only the Arco della pace but also, framed in the light from the arc, the Torre del Filarete del Castello Sforzesco, a wonderful site!
In this stretch in front of you, where only trams have the right to transit, you can already breathe a different atmosphere.
Can you see the Arco della Pace through the branches? It’s all made of marble and at the top of it, 25 meters up in the air, you can see 10 horses galloping.. ten bronze horses, that took 7 years to create, four are on the edges, two per side, whilst the others are dragging “peace” behind them, a female figure that triumphantly enters the city! It is said that the horses once faced the other direction, but that the Austrians, as an insult to the French turned them around 180°. However, since it took 300 workers to get them up there, we hope the decision of what way to make them face was made only once!
Turn right, the quarter circle called Via Antonio Canova will take you back along Parco Sempione, exactly where you came from. On your left you will have Torre Branca, the Palazzo dell’Arte, but before continuing to Via Paleocapa, you will turn left entering the park directly. For now we can tell you that the whole park used to be Piazza D’Armi, where troops used to prepare before heading out to battle. Now it is a beautiful park full of streams, trails and little roads.. Inside the park there small hills, statues, a lovely little bridge called “delle sirenette” (of the mermaids) (it used to connect the shores of the Navigli in Via Mascagni), “a fountain of rotten water” and, other than what you’ve already seen, there is the Civil Aquarium, the Civic Arena e a small public library, and obviously the Castello Sforzesco.
There is a legend, that not everyone knows, about this wonderful garden…They say that on foggy winter nights, when everything is wrap in a freezing blanket.. a figure appears and approaches quickly, neither walking nor running, but floating through the air… just like a ghost! It is said that this figure is a dame and that once she is before you will lead you the gate of an old villa and open it with a key. Inside the villa she dances with her victim for hours until dawn! At the first signs of day she removes her vail but instead a beautiful face underneath there is a skull! Legend says that everyone that has seen the dame goes mad and spends the rest of their life trying to find the secret villa where they dances with the black dame.
Heading over towards Piazza del Cannone, you will have Castello Sforzesco on your right and a small lake in the park on you left.
The story of the Castello Sforzesco is very complex and we don’t want to bore you, all you need to know is that it was built by the Visconti family, it was then passed onto the Sforza family, much preferred by the Milanese, and this is the reason it is called Castello Sforzesco and not Visconteo! It is also important to know that in its history, it was destroyed and then rebuilt, changed and modified numerous times; going from sumptuous castle and prestigious home of a duke to barracks for soldiers and a shelter for horses. Under the domination of the foreigners: French, Spanish and Austrian it was used mostly as a fortress and a point of a defense more than home for royalty!
As the for the castle itself all you need to know is that other than the huge entrance courtyard, shadowed by the famous Torre del Filarete, there another two beautiful courtyards, la Corte Ducale and la Rocchetta… In the Corte Ducale there is still a lovely body of water and the Duke’s chambers used to overlook it. The Rocchetta, on the other hand, was where they would hide in case of an attack, it was considered the impregnable courtyard! All around remnants of a moat are visible, now covered in grass where children love rolling down.
There are all sorts of things in the castle, it is impossible to attempt to describe all the art and culture found between these walls. We’ll limit ourselves in saying that there is an amazing Egyptian Museum, a picture gallery, an ancient art museum, a prehistoric museum, Trivulziana Library and the fantastic Sforzinda, an association that promotes recreational activities and laboratories for children of all ages, during the week and on the weekend.
Keeping the little lake on your left and continuing straight you’ll arrive at a wonderful building.
This is the civic aquarium. Not even close to the size of the one in Genoa, but this building’s appeal is surprising. It was instituted in 1906, for the international Exposition and is the only pavilion built in Parco Sempione that wasn’t taken apart after the Expo ended. It is the third oldest aquarium in Europe. It was recently the subject of an extensive renovation that brought its exterior back to their original splendour as well bringing the interior and all the tanks up to today’s standards whilst still keeping the original values: offering a detailed view of both salt and fresh water Italian aquatic environments. Now turn left and walk along the Arena.
The Arena Civica Gianni Brera is the oldest stadium in Italy! It was built before football was even invented! It is over 200 years old and was built by Napoleon Bonaparte’s request, who, well known for his modesty, wanted to recreate the lost atmosphere that there once was in roman amphitheatres form a thousand before! It was initially used solely for military parades, games, chariot races and real ship battles, the Naumachie.
The central part was filled with water to allow the last kind of event to take place, just think, there went as far as having live wales and dolphins swimming in the arena!
After Napoleon, the arena was used for grand parties and balls in the open air, during the colder months it became a huge ice-skating rink, and then, 100 years ago, became a football stadium. In the 50s, however, it became too small to fit all the fans and was left unused for about a decade. After that it began hosting athletics competitions, American football matches, rugby matches and that sort of event.
Keep going along Via Legnano, keeping Parco Sempione on your left.. the walls of the Arena will accompany you along this tree lined road that ends up in Piazza Lega Lombarda, a huge intersection, more than a square it’s more of a huge mass of converging roads.
From here you can, either, keep going an make your way back to Corso Sempione, by keeping to the left, or you can enter ChinaTown, following the tram tracks, or head towards the Brera neighbourhood by turning right, or even keep going straight, which is exactly what you are going to do! You will pass by a large bar called ATM, it used to be an old terminal station, a small shelter, that the was kept there and the structure turned into a very fashionable nightclub!
Carrying on along the old bastion of Porta Volta will take you to the intersection with Via Volta. Looking toward the left you’ll see, in the distance, the entrance to Milan’s first cemetery, the Cimitero Monumentale, today, like we mentioned before, its reserved for a select few! Let’s say that to buried here you have to reach a certain status quo or at least have reached a certain kind of economic stability!
It is like an open air museum.. from chapels to statues and family tombs, art here aren’t something to be taken for granted, just like the names of the eople buried here! Well-known names of the great Milanese bourgeoisie like Falk, Campari, Brambilla, Bocconi, Treccani can be found here!
Between the branches, closer to you in Piazzale Biancamano, there are two caselli daziari ,of one of the cities more recent city gates Porta Volta from the 1800s.
Now keep going along Via Francesco Cripsi where you’ll run into another city gate: Porta Garibaldi. A beautiful archway with two amazing caselli daziari at its sides. It was built in the 1800s at open out onto the road for Como.
You’re in Piazza XXV Aprile, recently renovated an made pedestrian in the extended project to revitalize the Porta Nuova area. Another part of this project was the now fashionable Corso Como, after being left to decay and being used as a parking lot for a long time, in the 90s it became Milan’s “drinking” epicentre.
The two colored building at the right of the square that projection on the glass that says “Smeraldo” was a theater until a couple of years ago until it became that all the worlds knows. The company was founded by Oscar Farinetti, owner of UniEuro.
Continuing along the bastioni di Porta Nuova, you will reach Piazza Principessa Clotlide where another gateway will stand before you, Porta Nuova: from here you will see Milan Porta Nuova’s skyscrapers poking out!!
A little further on you will get to Piazza della Repubblica and continuing straight on you will find the bastioni di Porta Venezia for the third time… Turn right after the caselli of Piazza Oberdan and you’ll have finally arrived!
You will have concluded your 42,195km course!
Well done and congratulations!
Traduzione a cura di RCS MediaGroup
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