Cultural itineraries in Milan that you cannot miss

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September has come and Milan is preparing to embrace the autumn. The summertime has gone and the first rains and cold is about to replace the hot weather. Are you thinking of planning your next trip? We suggest you some cultural itineraries in Milan that you cannot miss – all the structures and the places that you have to see once in your life, divided by zone. If you love arts, beauty and culture this article is what you are searching for especially if you want to learn with fun during your next trip. Check out the flights, the apartments for rent available and… hit the road!

The historical center – the reign of arts, history and elegance

Since Milan is a metropolis, it has a lot to offer to its citizens as well as to those tourists, who stay in the city just for few days. If you want to start from the heart of the city, you have to start from the historical center. Here, you just have to choose –

Duomo
The Duomo of Milan

museums, churches, shops, clubs, boutiques and so on. This zone is the ideal place to satisfy anybody’s taste. Speaking of cultural itineraries, we suggest you to plan your tour choosing the symbols of the city. First of all, the Duomo. Regal, colossal, impressive and harmonious: this cathedral will take your breath away. If you get to Pizza del Duomo by metro, choose the exit under the entrance of the building – you will feel little in comparison to this 108 meters giant. Rich with glass walls, steeples, pillars and much more, this cathedral is the “big shot” of the center of Milan. We warmly suggest you to take a look around the church as well as to hop on its top and meet the so-called Madunina (i.e. the Virgin Mary), who overlooks Milan. Speaking of the Duomo, there are two interesting anecdotes that we want you to know: the first is about the statue of St. Sebastian in there and the second is about the reason why this cathedral was built. As for the saint, do not think that this statue is similar to any other statues you have seen in your life – Sebastian is skinned, with his own skin around his shoulder like a creepy blanket. Of course it is not real, but if you look closely at the statue, the skin may almost look real! This detail perfectly matches a building, which has been “built on a nightmare”. This means that the construction of the Duomo was ordered by Giangaleazzo Visconti, the Duke of Milan, in order to satisfy the Devil – as a matter of fact, the Duke had a nightmare in which the Devil told him that he would have taken his soul unless Giangaleazzo built a cathedral dedicated to the Demon.

Let us lighten the atmosphere and move to more pleasant topics. We suggest you to see the two museums near the Duomo: the Palazzo Reale and the Museo del Novecento. If in the first you will have the possibility to see classic masterpieces, in the second you can feed you soul with something different. The Museo del Novecento, which is characterized by a modern style, hosts paintings and sculptures from the Twentieth century. This permanent collection is always enriched by some gorgeous

Palazzo Reale of Milan
The Palazzo Reale of Milan (pic by Michael Johnson)

temporary exhibitions.

Last but not least, we suggest you not to miss the visit to such amazing “artistic headquarters” like the Brera Academy and the Castello Sforzesco. Just few minutes far from the Duomo, the Academy was founded in 1776 by Maria Teresa d’Austria and hosts some of the most important paintings in Europe. Moreover, do not miss a visit to the inner courtyard of the Academy. Starting from Brera, take a walk along via Dante and at the end of the street, you will find the famous Castello Sforzesco. Built in the Sixteenth century, it has become a symbol of Milan – gorgeous and always rich with events during all the periods of the year.

 

From Statale to Porta Romana – comics and esoteric atmospheres

We also suggest to the comics aficionados to go visit the zone between Porta Romana and Statale. In Viale Campania 12 you find the spazio WOW, dedicated to the characters of the world of comics and cinema. Realized and managed by the Franco Fossati Foundation, this structure is always rich with interesting events and exhibitions for people of all ages. One of the last happenings, which had a great exit was the meeting with Zerocalcare, a famous Italian comic writer whose main character is an armadillo – which is also the protagonist’s unconsciousness as well as friend, in the strips. The bookshop of this museum is full of interesting comic books, such as the book about Hokusai, the Japanese painter, by Shotaro Ishinomori. We immediately bought it but we cannot guarantee the presence of some more copies in the shop!

San Bernardino alle ossa
Inside the church of San Bernardino alle ossa (pic by Sam L)

Let us skip to another kind of atmosphere, a little bit darker, which perfectly matches the topic that we are about to introduce. Notwithstanding what people say about Milan, this city is rich with mysterious places, hiding legends and creepy stories. If you love the mystery, one of the most important “stops” is the church of San Bernardino alle ossa. Do not surrender to the first impression: from the outside, this church looks like any other Christian building but inside, San Bernardino hides a big surprise. There is a little ossuary with its walls completely covered by human skulls and bones. Legend has it that these were the bones of some patients of the Brolo hospital. A little bit creepy but the mystery is fascinating after all, do not you agree?

From Navigli to Sant’Ambrogio – the Milanese movida in the moonlight

You may not expect to find the word “movida” in an article about cultural itineraries but this is also one aspect of the culture of a population, after all. The ideal place for Milanese people where meeting and relaxing after a whole day of work, both in winter or in summertime, is the district of Navigli. Thanks to the watery channels, this zone is characterized by a unique, romantic atmosphere that will reminds you of the Venetian places. Expanded with the construction of the new Darsena, this area is rich with history and tradition. Among the historical curiosities about the Navigli there is the Vicolo delle Lavandaie. This part of the Navigli district draws its name from the ancient women living here, who wash their cloths kneeing on the so-called “brellin”, a tool made of stone. Another peculiarity is the so-called “case di ringhiera”, composed of a central courtyard and a sharing walkway – here you will feel in a romantic city like Paris!

The last stop of the tour of this zone is the basil of Sant’Ambrogio, protector of Milan. Dedicated to the namesake saint, who were German by birth, this structure is characterized by a wonderful external cluster, where the Devil and Ambrose had a fight, according to the legend: legend has it that Ambrose kicked the Devil, who ended up with its horns in the column at the left of the entrance. If you pay attention, you will see two holes and you could also smell sulfur, with some concentration.

From Pagano to Isola – elegance and design in a minimal and chic zone

Let us close this virtual tour with a visit to the Museo dei popoli and to the famous Vertical Forest. The first structure is completely dedicated to the Asian arts – here you can find the most exotic and peculiar thing you have ever seen in your life, such as a long fish tongue, which once were used to prepare the guarana. This museum is not giant - as a matter of fact, there are only two rooms. However, “small things come in small packages” so do not judge this structure from its dimensions. Its staff will be glad of helping you and of telling you any sort of anecdotes and stories.

Vertical Forest
The Vertical Forest (pic by Ebru Akbulut)

Let us end with the famous Vertical Forest. Composed of two tower, each one 111 and 76 meters high, in this peculiar Milanese green area almost 9.000 species of trees and plants are included. The two buildings are located between via Confalonieri and via de Castillia and they have been awarded with the International Highrise Award thanks to the particular design characterizing them. The apartments for rent and for sale are definitely too high (up to 9.000 per square meter) but at least looking is priceless!

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