From University Statale to Porta Romana

 We were in front of the University Statale, standing still while observing the students entering from the central door, when a young, skinny guy, with ruffle hair and an asymmetric smile, approached us. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” he asked us while pointing at the University. We nodded silently and then asked him if he was a student. “Yes, I am graduating in history. What about you? What are you doing here?”. When we told him the reason for our standing and staring, his eyes began to sparkle with joy. He checked the time, mumbled an “oh well, I can miss this lecture, it is not that important”, and offered to shepherd us for a while. Our tour with this unexpected guide started from Piazza Missori. We traversed Corso di Porta Romana until the Carcano theatre. This road, we were told by the skinny guy, once stretched side by side to a colonnade with pointed arches. A wide colonnaded road with a double purpose: welcoming those who came from Rome and leaving them with a puzzled look on their faces. “Ergo, the rivalry between Rome and Milan was already there at the time of Emperor Graziano!”.

After reaching Crocetta, we took via Lamarmora and we continued our tour. It is relaxing to walk in these streets: although we are only few steps away from the Duomo, the neighborhood here is way more secluded and the myriad of palaces with beautiful façades and stunning doors makes the walk far more pleasant. These palaces accommodate both families (sneak peak through the windows and envy their lives) and fashion ateliers, such as Prada in Via Spartaco. The skinny guy took us to Piazza Cinque Giornate: “It makes me crazy to hear that Italy never had a proper revolution like France or Russia! This square testifies the exact opposite! Here, thousands of people have fought for five days in a row, succeeding in freeing themselves from the Austrian supremacy… This is what I call a revolution, am I right?”. The enthusiasm of one of the last Milanese patriot made us smile and we continued to walk around the area in an happy mood while he went back to his lessons. Thanks to him, while walking, we kept in mind that Milan has its treasures, even if they are a bit more hidden than those of Rome, Paris or Saint Petersburg!

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Dos

  • Treat yourself with a day in the Porta Romana SPA. Don’t miss the garden surrounded by the spanish walls: a (literal) dive in the past!

     

  • Visit the Statale University when a student has discussed his thesis in order to assist to the “leap of the bush”, the ritual every fresh graduate has to accomplish!

     

  • Sit for a while in the IX Novembre Garden, looking around and feeling grateful for having the opportunity to rest next to the Spanish ruins.

     

Donts

  • Don’t visit the Torre Velasca. The interesting part is its exterior, and particularly its mushroom-shaped structure: the architects chose this shape to make it similar to the medieval towers and to integrate it to the other existing buildings of the city center.

     

  • Don’t pass by the Court House without glancing at the other side of the road. Although hidden and difficult to spot at a first sight, the church of San Pietro in Gessate is one of Milan treasures, hosting amazing frescos and the stunning Grifi’s chapel.

     

Why the Milanese like it

  • Because it is closed (but not so much) to the city center. By stretching his neck, he can easily spot the Madonnina among the sckyscrapers but he can still enjoy some silence.

     

  • Because it’s an area full of Roman and Spanish ruins and he can proudly say something like “see, not only Rome has some history!”

     

  • Because he can walk with his nose up in the air in Via Larga, Viale Monte Nero, Via Francesco Sforza to admire the amazing architecture and, if he is lucky enough and he finds some open doors, he can also sneak into one of their marvelous gardens.

     

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