Friday, 21 November 2014

Momenti Milanesi's Top 20 things to do in Milan part 2

10. Go to the Natural History Museum in Parco Montanelli.

Since it's a personal list I'm starting the second part with something else a little off-beat. The Natural History Museum is not big nor grandiose but it's got dinosaurs and gem stones and I really like it. It's also in one of the (if not THE) nicest parks in Milan. There are lots of paths to discover, grass for picnicking on, and you won't get disturbed as often by people trying to sell you things as in Parco Sempione.

After this, go to Via Cappucini and peer at the flamingos hidden behind the hedge of someone's private garden.

9. Have an aperitivo.

I like Hora Feliz near the Colonne di San Lorenzo best, although I don't go there much as it's rather out the way. The choice of food is really quite amazing and it's generally pretty good. They also offer Pimms and if you can keep it to one drink, it's a very cost effective way to have dinner. Milan does good aperitivos from 6pm onwards- just don't get there too late!

Looking about 15 years old and getting served with no request for ID - I love Italy.

8. Window shop in Via della Spiga and Montenapoleone.

This is a great thing to do if you aren't from Paris, London, New York or Tokyo. For country girls like myself the luxury shopping district in Milan is a tourist attraction in itself. Have fun mentally  gawping at the prices and pretending you can't see the security men watching you. Have more fun laughing at some of the more ridiculous items in the window although you'll probably have the most fun if you have the money to spend and go in and buy something.

An Herm├Ęs silk tie costs about 150 euros so if you need a special present for the man in your life it's a good place to have a look and the service is excellent and a little turquoise box from Tiffany seems to go down well with pretty much any young woman.

7. Climb the mini mountain in Parco Monte Stella.

Climbing a hill is decidedly novel business in Milan. The pianura stretches for miles and miles around to the mountains in the distance and it's very flat. To get any kind of view you need to go up a building or come to this park. The view isn't exactly Florence, Verona or Rome, but it's certainly interesting to view Milan from on high. Take the metro past Lotto Fiera Milano City to QT8 (yes that really is a stop) and it's right around the corner. When I went there was only one drunk and lots of dog walkers and cyclists, making one of Milan's most relaxing parks. In the winter if it snows, I gather it becomes very popular with skiers and snowboarders too. On clear days you can see the Appenines and the sweeping arc of the Alps.

Sunset is a particularly good time to go.

Taken Last Weekend.

6. Eat milanese food at a trattoria.

This is without a doubt one of the things you really shouldn't miss out on... I mean, you came all the way to Milan. Where else are you going to try cotoletta, risotto giallo alla milanese or polenta with gorgonzola? Gorgonzola is down the road by the way.

I particularly like l'Osteria dell'aqua bella in Porta Romana on cold or wet days.

5. Explore the hidden charms of San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore.

Outside it's easy to miss. It's a very uninspiring looking church, and Santa Maria delle Grazie, which houses the Last Supper, is just down the road. Inside it is a colourful glory. Frescoes, frescoes everywhere and a beautiful choir through a tiny door. My favourite paintings are Noah's Ark and the angels on the ceiling in the starry sky. Just take my word for it, it's worth a look.

4. Go shopping in Via Torino and Corso Vittorio Emanuele.

More fun than window shopping is actual shopping. Milan is like a shopping Mecca along with New York and the home of Italian fashion, so it's got more than it's fair share of flagship stores. They have a saying - 'If you can't buy it in Milan - it doesn't exist!' There is more than one retail hub, but may favourite is the area around Duomo in Via Torino and the pedestrianised Corso Vittorio Emanuele with galleries to walk under for when it rains.

Shopping in Milan

3. La Basilica di Sant' Ambrogio

Saint Ambrose is the patron saint of Milan and he even has his own day off work in December here in Milan. He was an interesting man. From what I gather he had no intention of becoming bishop of Milan, since he wasn't actually a priest or even a baptised Christian, but due to popular request from the warring churches he became one after a rather hasty baptism. His leaves behind a saintly legacy of charitable deeds and the beautiful 4th(!) century (although what we see today is more like 11th) church that bears his name. He also leaves his actaul remains on display in the crypt, from which we can gather he was rather short.

The church itself has a gorgeous courtyard and is tucked away next to the Catholic University of Milan. It's one place where a good trawl of it's Wikipedia page will really pay off while visiting as it has many notable features.

Sant' Ambrogio

2. Look for the trompe l'oeil at Chiesa di Santa Maria Presso San Satiro.

Another hidden gem  of a church. This time it's hidden off Via Torino on your left as you walk from the duomo. It took me years before I learnt about it. It has an impressive trompe l'oeil by Bramante. Don't look it up on Wikipedia. It's much more exciting if you don't know what you're looking for! Go and search for the trompe l'oeil yourself - it's so good that we nearly left without seeing it.

1.Walk on the roof of the Duomo.

My number one choice won't come as much of a surprise. The duomo is THE icon of Milan, like the Eiffel Tower is to Paris or Big Ben to London. The golden Madonna on the top even has her own song O mia bella Madunina written in Milanese dialect and it was a massive hit in 1936 becoming the unofficial anthem of Milan to this day.

The inside is worth a look but it's the outside that makes it so spectacular. A trip up to the roof is the best way to appreciate it as it gives you a close up look at the sheer amount of work that went into it. The details on the hundreds and hundreds of carvings and statues are simply breathtaking!

How many have you done? Did I miss anything?

1 comment:

Grace Brandon said...

I couldn't agree more about your no.1. It's an amazing experience. So much beautiful stone masonry all out of view from the ground.