Thursday, 13 November 2014

Momenti Milanesi's Top 20 things to do in Milan part 1

In order of preference...

20.  Catch a train in Central Station!

Yes. It's a bit of a silly one, but going on what I've already talked about before, Milan's location is really excellent for seeing many other places and it's very well connected. When I first came to Milan I came in at Stazione Centrale. It certainly lets you know you've arrived. Its slightly fascist pomp is definitely worth a look from the piazza in front. Don't go straight into the metro!

19. Go to the Castello Sforzesco and walk around the Parco Sempione.

Milan is surprisingly not famous for having a castle. However, it's got one and it's the gateway to a picturesque park and Napoleon's Arco della Pace. Like all touristy and green spaces in big cities it attracts a lot of pickpockets, bracelet sellers and the slightly deranged, so I tend not to sit down or stop too much when I'm on my own. This is why it's not further up on my list, but it's still worth a visit.

Castello Sforzesco at Night

18.  Go to the Museo del 900 and survey Piazza Duomo.

The museo del 900 is a museum of 20th century modern art - a lot of it Italian - and it has quite a few well known pieces, like merda d'artista if I remember well. I've got rather a lot of arty things on my list, and although I'm not such a big fan of modern art, I really enjoyed the museum because the building is rather lovely. It has some great views over Piazza Duomo for people watching when the Art gets a bit much.

People Watching in Piazza Duomo

17. Go to the Noberasco shop and stock up on dried fruits!

Well it's my list after all, so after the gallery you'll probably feel a bit hungry if you're anything like me. Not far away in Via Spadari there's Noberasco. It's originally from Turin but I'm including it because it's like no other fruit shop you've ever seen. It does dried fruit but super fresh, if that's not an oxymoron.

If you're not feeling snackish then buy your family presents from Peck, a famous food shop, also in via Spadari. Buying a panettone for Christmas would be about the most Milanese thing you could do.

16. See Da Vinci's Last Supper... if you can get tickets. 

I've not been to see the Cenacolo yet, and that's why it's not further up the list. If you can get tickets go. I hear it's very good. I'm going to attempt it before the year is out, but the tickets need to be purchased a month or three in advance if you don't want to go at 8 am on a Tuesday.

Santa Maria delle Grazie

15. Go to the Pinacoteca and walk around Brera.

If you've ever studied and enjoyed History of Art then this is the museum for you. It's got more than one painting I remember studying, like Mantegna's foreshortened Christ. The area it is in is also a very fine neighbourhood  with all the best kinds of pushchairs (according to my ex-colleague who knew her buggies) and is partially pedestrianised. It sells design furniture, antiques and aperitivos and the things that la gente che piace like. It's like a posh Parisian corner of Milan.

14. San Siro stadium.

So here's something for those who like music or sport, in particular football. Milan is home to two big teams, Milan /MEE-lan/ and Inter /IN-tairrr/ which share a home in San Siro. From the outside it's pretty ugly but inside it's pretty impressive. I saw a concert there and didn't particularly enjoy it (it's OK, we laugh about it now) but the atmosphere of the full stadium was undeniable. I hear from some guests of mine that the tour is very good too.

13. Go for a drink in the Navigli. 

Whether you go in the evening and see the lights reflected in the water (if the canals aren't drained) or if you go in the afternoon and stroll around the side streets and arty and hipster shops the Navigli canals are a great place for a drink on a sunny day. It's an up and coming area and as all trendy areas are its slowly being gentrified. Personally, I don't think this is a bad thing if it means they clear up the canals a bit. It's another pocket of Milan that feels somewhat un-Milanese in that it has it's goes at it's own pace. In short, it's a prime passeggiata spot.

The trendy Navigli area

12. See an exhibition.

Milan hosts heaps of exhibitions which is great if it's raining. The best ones, but also the ones with the longest queues, are in Palazzo della Ragione in Piazza dei Mercanti or in Palazzo Reale just next to the Duomo. Going on a week day is a wise choice if you can, as Sunday Afternoons can see three hour queues for the most popular exhibitions. Palazzo Reale tends to do all the big ones... Van Gogh, Dali, Chagall.... while I've been to see two photographic exhibitions in Piazza dei Mercanti. The Palazzo della Ragione is an exquisite medieval hall in an exquisite medieval square and that's why it's my favourite exhibition space.

Exhibitions at Palazzo Reale

11. Walk around San Lorenzo with an ice cream from Grom

Admire the roman columns out front and the higgledy-piggledy back of the church with an ice cream from Grom (another very welcome invasion from Turin). My favourite flavours are Raspberry and Yogurt but they're all delicious. The church of San Lorenzo is not far from the Navigli and there is a distinct alternative vibe going on with alternatively dressed people perched, smoking, among the columns and in circles in the park round the back.

A rare slice of Roman history in Milan

That's it for part 1. Part 2 coming soon. In the meanwhile...

Do you agree with my choices? What should be coming up next?


Anneka Lott said...

Thanks so much for this blog - so insightful. I'm visiting Milan in December and will now for sure visit the castle and museum :-)

Grace Brandon said...

My three favourite places haven't been mentioned so I think they will be in your top ten. I will be interested to see if they are your top three too.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Great post. I've done only three of these!