Strolling around Milan on a quiet autumn Sunday, while the city offers up treasures and reveals unexpected secrets.
A day in the metropolis is like a burst of pure energy, the urban space is above all an encounter with humanity and its talents, with industry and history, art and business.Social life and civilization are the very emblem of the city, both fascinating and chaotic, at times insidious but certainly energetic, vital, pulsating.
Milan is like this, hard-working and dynamic, ancient and modern, open and mysterious.For this reason, every now and then I escape from the quiet of the lake Orta and come to visit some hidden corner of this vibrant city.And I am never disappointed!
Three tips, therefore, for a Milanese day: start with Brera, go through San Satiro and absolutely visit Sant’Ambrogio.
The street that gives its name to the Brera district was once just a grassy and uncultivated clearing that was chosen by the Order of the Humiliated to erect its convent.Today Via Brera is the axis of a trendy district, frequented by international tourists, dotted with historic shops, art galleries, restaurants and luxury shops.But this neighborhood has been able to maintain its own identity: you can breathe an intimate and characteristic atmosphere, almost like a village, while you can choose whether to drink a Campari at the tables of the Jamaica bar, take a tour of the market in via Fiori Chiari or visitthe most famous art gallery in Italy. I would also recommend a walk to the Botanical Garden and a stop at the Academy of Fine Arts or a little shopping in the furniture shops that make up the beating heart of this design district.
Another of my favorite stops when I come to Milan remains the amazing church of Santa Maria presso San Satiro.In the very central Via Torino, right next to the Duomo, between two buildings and hidden behind a heavy gate, lies one of the masterpieces of Italian art.It is a very special building: it is enough to cross the threshold of the church to be impressed by the large space behind the altar, characterized by columns and decorations, a space that is however only the result of an extraordinary optical illusion, a true perspective deception because,in reality ... the apse does not exist!This effective trompe l'oeil is the work of Donato Bramante, one of the greatest Italian architects, who transformed the small space into a brilliant artistic opportunity, creating a fake apse measuring 97 centimeters instead of the 9.70 meters envisaged by the original project.
The last suggestion for your Milanese day is the famous Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, which represents the ancient and devout heart of the city, as it houses the remains of the patron saint to whom all Milanese are inextricably linked.The church dates back to the fourth century (when the ancient Mediolanum was the capital of the Western Roman Empire) and was built outside the walls, in an area where Christians martyred by persecutors were buried.
I particularly like this place steeped in history, where silence and stillness reign supreme: I like to stroll along the quadriportico admiring the gabled façade, the loggias and bell towers, the cloisters of Bramante and, inside, the golden altar andthe column with the snake.
But in reality I am fascinated by the whole area where this characteristic red brick basilica stands, an area that also houses the Catholic University, Piazza Sant'Ambrogio and the famous Devil's Column (which, according to legend, still smells of sulfur).
As I told you Milan is a city with many resources, its greatness lies in the beauty that it knows how to preserve and that the hasty traveler, generally, does not see. But many metropolitan treasures often reside in the folds of the city’s geography, it is enough to know how to find them.
(I forgot: today's suggestions are all absolutely free!)