Hidden beauty of Milan

20140708_100107 modIn Milan there so many hidden beauties.. Have you ever walked in the city center and a lovely garden just appeared but you were so in hurry that you didn’t stop to admire it? This happened to me several times so I decide to take afternoon break and ride around city searching for the hidden beauty. Behind every old building there are always design windows, wonderful ancient doors.When I travel I used to take pictures of little details as small gates, the doors of the houses, old windows, shutters, fountains, decorative elements that enrich the buildings. The names of the streets speak and tell us about the history of the city .. so even the doors, gates and windows have something to show us .. if we listen to them. In particular Milan has a hidden beauty that needs to be discovered and revealed .

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While discussing with an old friend about real Milan identity , we agreed that several centuries of foreign dominations ( the french, the spanish and the austrians) have so impacted on Milan attitude that the Milan people are more used  to enjoy beauty in their homes and in their backyards rather than to show outside. We define it the so called ” sobriety”.

Here you’ll find some shots that I took during my urban riding, I stopped on purpose when I saw a intriguing detail that struck me .. For each photo there is a small caption. I hope you will enjoy!

Old window in Corso di Porta Vercellina , perhaps belong to an old mechanics workshop.

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We can  find a beautiful design window near  an old mechanic workshop closed for years.. not necessarily in the city center .
Maybe some superintendent understanding that if you are just curious and you do not have the slightest intention of robbing the apartments will let you go in ..this luckily happened to me .. and so i find yourself in a beautiful courtyard of an Ancient palace. .

So I guess one  this could be the gate of  Cinderella Palace with climbing roses .. very romantic, isn’ it?

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Tivoli street

In via Tivoli, near the Metro Lanza I saw his magnificent iron gate combined with wooden door and I tried to guess what’s inside .. a design shop, a representative office, a private manor.
I found just beautiful the entrance of Palazzo Bovara . It looks like the gate to get into a secret garden ..

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Palazzo Bovara decorated gate

I think this summer I ‘ll read again the book The secret garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
And you have you never seen in everyday life or during a travel some beautiful details ?  Where are hidden beatuties in Milan?Today let me know your hidden beauties..


Exploring walking in Porta Nuova new district..

A walk near Porta Nuova Garibaldi district is really striking to realize how Milan is being changed. The new urbanization project including the three districts Garibaldi Isola Varesine is really changing the Milan city aspect and not only the skyline! So I decided to explore and take photos of the new buildings. When I find myself in front of a yard I typically begin to fantasize and think about what it will be built .. a hotel, a park, a school, a swimming pool .. unfortunately often are private homes, hotels and shops rarely new schools, libraries and sports facilities. In this case, the area in question certainly become a new residential district, there is a  new and spectacular square where stands the  Unicredit tower , nearby there is a green area and above a panoramic walkway connected by streets and bridges . My exploring tour started from Palazzo della Regione Lombardia. ( Gioia stop -Metro green line )


The Palazzo della regione is the new headquarter of Regione Lombardia, is a  spectacular skyscraper, 160 meters high. It was completed in 2010 . Aesthetically it does not look much different from other skyscrapers in other cities, the striking feature is the covered square inside. (What you see in the picture with all the flags), is  very useful, because it offers shelter to the bike racks, there are also several coffe and shop and a nursery .. a kind of square.

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At the top was placed a copy of the Madonna statue from Duomo. In Milan traditionally when the building is higher than the Duomo you must put a statue similar to Madonna statue above the Duomo!

On the upper floors they organized guided tours of the skyscraper, it would be wonderful to be able to climb once!
I cross the street and I go into a beautiful garden where little red roses grow and in the background stand the Porta Nuova beautiful skyscrapers. Nice contrast the height of new grey buildings with small plants of the secret garden. I decide to go in. Nothing has been planned and it’s just a discover.. moreover this is the spirit of this blog ..travel adventure near home! In a few seconds I understand is a beautiful garden, but not secret .. manicured lawns, a path of stones, hedges and rose gardens and a historical building. The building is the headquarters of the Foundation Riccardo Catella.


They kept this historic building within a project so innovative and conceive of it as a space of conviviality and meeting with the restaurant, an exhibition space, a bowling club and a new children’s play area. New and old meet: a far-sighted decision .

Outside the garden of Fondazione Catella i found myself  right near the Boeri  Bosco verticale which recently was selected by an international Jury for the prestigious international architecture award Highrise Award 2014.

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The Bosco verticale is really impressive, trees are like suspended. I believe there is a special watering system independent from housing. Who knows how much water will be used? They will certainly designed an eco-system for harvesting rainwater .. I will always be a thousand questions in the face of such innovative projects. Plants seem one with the building, the skyscraper seems to breathe .. like a giant tree or nest .. 🙂
I take a path that lead me finally in Gae Aulenti sqaure. Here I am finally to look at the site, particularly the part that has yet to be completed …

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The square is already opened and is very much alive, there are several resto, shops ,offices, including Unicredit headquarters in the highest skyscraper. While I head to Corso Como I get lost in my thoughts .. it is amazing to think as through the talent and genius of man will be realized projects that change the lives of people and city. Part of the city sheds its skin and history, and this is a typical features characterizes Milan .. here there is no fear of change. Several urbanists, sociologists ,anthropologists predicted in the next 20 years that the world’s population will leave in the cities leaving countryside. We will know that they call the regiona lcities..so current cities must change, city have to become smart . Planners therefore always speak of smart city, that are characterized by shared public spaces, a wide range of transport fast capillary , a compatible use of resources with great attention to lighting and heating, and especially the application of new technologies to share and offer services to the community. Have you ever visited a smart city? For now I’am sure that Porta Nuova district looks quite smart! P,s I ‘ll come back when the project is completed to tell you if the area is really smart

How to reach the district

You can reach Piazza Gaeu Aulenti, the Bosco verticale and the Foundation Riccardo Catella by  lilla and green lines stop Garibaldi or Gioia Metro.

How to reach the Garden fondazione Riccardo Catella

The garden can be accessed both from an entrance in Via De Castillia, 28 and one in Largo de Benedetti, adjacent to Via Melchiorre Gioia.

The garden is open to the public:

from 08:00 to 20:00 from April to September

from 09:00 to 18:00 from October to March


Duomo stained glass windows

On the way to downtown when I get out of the subway I am always thrilled by the sight of our majestic cathedral, the Duomo.  The facade is superb with huge entrance doors richly decorated and carved . Our  cathedral Mariae Nascenti was built in 1386 on the initiative of the Duke of Milan Gian Galeazzo Visconti, who even bought the marble quarries of Candoglia close to Lake Maggiore. The marble was trasported along the Navigli canals.

vetrata sinistra abside

Several artists worked for Duomo, not only from the north of Italy  but also from all parts of Europe. For this reason art historians use the term the  international Gothic.
While I ‘am passing near the pillars, it seems to me to walk in a forest. The pillars they are like old high trees, majestic, impressive, really high.
On each side of the aisle, stand rich stained glass windows, some are original, but most has been replaced with a copy of the original. Each stained glass window has a particular history linked to the historical moment and to the artist who created it. The windows were made by germans, french and italian artists ; few names: Stephen Pandino,  Nicolo Varallo, Nicholas de bonaventuris, Biagio Arcimboldi.
The larger windows are located in the oldest part of the cathedral, the baptistery. Nicholas de bonaventuris helped to realize the design of them .
The central window depicts the scenes of the Apocalypse,while the side windows the Stories of the Old and New Testament. After having admired behind the choir banister, when you come back in the middle aisle turn around and marvel at the central window in all its glory with a sparkling sun that seems to illuminate the nave.

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Now I propose a personal selection of stained glass windows, it’s not a detailed guide to all the Duomo windows but please consider  it as my personal selection.
1) the windows on the story of Catherine of Alexandria made by Arcimboldo family (the windows are placed at the bottom).

vetrate s.caterina arcimboldo
2) the windows of the two bishops of recent construction (the windows are positioned in the middle of the aisle). Very modern with vibrant colors.

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3) Sixteenth century stained glass (close to mausoleo Visconti at the bottom).

-the first on the left depicts the Stories of King David made by the artist Aldo Carpi in 1934.

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-Stained glass windows of the Four-crowned saints, note architectural structures typical of the Renaissance, very well-defined stand on the bottom of the blue sky.


-Stained glass windows of the Archangel Michael: they represent the eternal struggle between good and evil, a tangle of angels and devils pitchforks between quivering wings, heads, jerky movements, bold strokes, punches, strong colors . It’s one of my favourite !

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The Duomo has a rich and complex history, its buiding was begun in 1386 and finished in ‘800 but still it is never finished. Today there is always some scaffolding for renovation and landscaping jobs. For an good to visit you might schedule 3 -4 hours. In the aisles there are marble altars, richs tombs of archbishops and princes ..most are men of power and richness, both religious and political power. All mens.The Cathedral is a masculine noun .. but indicates the cathedral and the essence of the cathedral is female, the cathedral in fact is dedicated to the Mother of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, in particular, to the nascent Marie, whose feast is the nativity of Mary on the 8th of September.

There are many details that make this cathedral dedicated to the worship of Mary. Inside the central door a beautiful stained glass window depicting the Virgin Mary, on the right aisle at the bottom of the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple by sculptor Bambaia, almost looks like a painting, the virgin is represented as a small girl in the act of climbing the grand staircase, a delicate image with high visual impact.

I end my visit and go outdoors and this time and right on the highest spire admire the Madonnina with its 4, 16 meters of golden glow observed the frenetic movement of passers-by every day for work, leisure and study through the square .

Here some informations to visit the cathedral.

TIME :  everyday  7.00  A.M – 6.30 P.M

Admission fee  applies for Duomo terraces, the baptisteries Battistero S.Giovanni , Battistero S.Stefano and the Tesoro del Duomo.


Travelling with babies..


on the road.

We left Milan for a short break holiday tour: Rome and then Argentario. Our smiling toddler Agata is almost 15 months, the only must-have for her is a big bottle of milk when she wakes up in the morning. This little creature that until recently was fed on milk now she devours  pasta alla norma, ravioli, ricotta, steamed fish, potatoes ..obviously all chopped up ..
After these important premises I will try to tell you our journey omitting family stories but trying to share our experiences to help those who are traveling with children.
On the road again..
– Time to play Before leaving, let them move, or play a little bit. We had plan to leave at9.00. We all woke up at 7.40, I prepared her bottle of milk and then she played until 8.30 when we were ready to go.
– Planning : Planning in advance it’s a rule when you normally travels that becomes a must when you are traveling with children . It’s preferable to estimate at least 30 minutes .The children require at least a half an hour longer … for the last diaper of course, but also to make up your mind and last check .-Toys and change bags at your disposal: It’s important to prepare two bags, one containing toys for the travel, and another bag containing all the necessary for baby change (wipes, diapers). When you load the car be careful to keep the bags close to you and baby traveler. Details, but there are life-changing.
-Two pacifiers are better than one! if your heir is a pacifier user, I recommend to bring one more! I remember a trip back from Tuscany with our newborn 40 days old screaming behind us !! we didn’t realize but at the service area the pacifier had fallen .. since then we decided that the two pacifiers are better than one!
You can sleep, you can play, you can eat and also sing!
Here we started, the first half hour was quiet. Agata looked out the window the Lombardy countryside, before chatting with us then talked with her teddy finally begun snoozing. In fact the young lady collapsed, but after an hour and a half she was awake and she was quite thirsty and dazed but still in very good mood.If you are traveling in summer time is a must to always have at your disposal fresh water. Between water and juices water is better.
And when you wake up? Which are the best travel toys ?
This time we took soft small books, soft rubber animals and little music instruments. The type of game obviously depends on the age of the child. Perfect toys for travel are coloring books (with pencils if you do not want to paint the whole car). Also songs and fairies tales are very good ideas when you travel. My daughter is still too young for fairy tales but she likes songs and when she listens to music she starts clapping her hands !
Lunch: it’s better not change the schedules, even though we’re traveling. Our little daughter is used to eat between 12-12, 30. So near Florence we stopped to autogrill Cisa Chef Express. It was the right time. Besides, if you stop at this hour soon it’s not crowdy. This service area is worth to mention it because it is new, well equipped and the self-service there are also high chairs for toddlers.
After lunch, and a small expresso ( for us not for the baby) we had to going on with our travel and this was the hardest time! Systematically only after half an hour we were travelling ,we must stop for another diaper change! After this last stop finally our little devil started sleeping but it was just half an hour before arriving at Rome and took the exit to Grandma’s house! Typical
Summarizing our schedule : departure time at 9.00 am from Milan, arrival at 15.00 in Rome with almost an hour lunch break near Florence. Positive mood of parents and baby calm.
Obviously, this is our experience , surely the toys and eating habits change depending on age ..
Agata first travel was when she was one month older and since then we have never stopped. Travelling with children is not hard, you have just to be very well organized and you must anticipate their needs.

I think that the most important elements for babies travelers are the rituals, let me explain better .Whether you are traveling by car or by plane if you let them playing ,if you have lunch always at the same time, bring their favorite toys and create good conditions for a good nap ..These are the basic and you can be sure that everything will be fine!
Although not everything can be fine, however travelling with children is always fun !
And you’re ready to go? where are you going this summer?


5 things i like in Milan

A  friend asked me to point out five things that I like in Milan. Is not a easy  choice you know ? it’s not easy because I like so many things in my city ..

I admit , I am a true lover of Milan since long time ago  even when many people didn’t understand it’s real soul, now  behaviors are  changing and the  attitude  towards Milan city is  different , we can risk and declare that people start loving Milan.

But let’s start to give a look at my list :

1 ) I LIKE MILAN for the risotto alla milanese or yellow rice but also the kebab and  Luini ‘s panzerotti


If I have to choose , i will not choose the usual aperitivo but   I elect my favorite foods : the legendary kebab, the risotto and panzerotto. Kebab in Milan are really good  , my favorites kebab points are in Baggio and in circonvallazione esterna near  Piazza Napoli but in the city if they are so many. Surely ff you’re downtown  at lunch time you must try the delicious Luini panzerotto, a shorts fried stuffed with melted mozzarella and tomato.Unfortunately there is always a lot of line but worth it !!! After a a busy work week here is a dish that needs time to be cooked but also of calm to be tasted , the traditional risotto alla milanese or yellow rice. Really I find it delicious, if you cook well of course! The texture is somewhat creamy because of the starch in the grain of rice but will have to remain a bit  crunchy … Then I will write my personal recipe , I promise.
2 ) I LIKE MILAN for the Navigli : By day, by night the Navigli are always beautiful ! If you are looking for  a bit of nightlife  in the evening , Navigli are the right place . Instead if you want to enjoy them with peace of mind it is better to go there on a sunday morning or afternoon a week.

Navigli by Virginia Fiume

Navigli by Virginia Fiume

There are magnificent views and if you happen during spring time or summer  you can go also for a a boat trip on the water.. you will come back at a time when the city was all navigable . The tour starts from the shortest Naviglio Grande , and particularly in Alzaia  Naviglio Grande 4 . There are  different water routes . If you prefer you can also ride the bike and take the road that starts from the magnificent Church of St. Christopher on the Naviglio if you are fit and able to get  Corsico and Trezzano .
Do not miss always on the Navigli , the last Sunday of the month, the antiques market .


3 ) I LIKE MILAN because there is always something to do .

Since my life has changed because I got a baby  we stay very often at Milan on the weekend and there is always something to do .. The Triennale is my favorite museum , and I recently rediscovered the civic collections of Castello Sforzesco . I would like one time to go back on the terraces of the Duomo , our beautiful cathedral that when you exit the subway gets into your heart .

If it rains it’s the moment to discover our museums , usually i go to the exhibitions of the Palazzo Reale .

Sometimes i go for a simple ride to Feltrinelli bookshop where there is nice babycorner with cutes games and smalls books or also  another idea is visit MUBA Children’s Museum recently opened at the Rotonda della Besana ( attention only for children from 2 years to 11 years). It’s not a normal museum but is’ a children museum and there are various workshop on different themes, the current workshop is on boxes every type of box..

Duomo by alice

Duomo by alice

4) I LIKE MILAN for its universities , beautiful not only to study but also to walk in the magnificent cloisters of the Catholic University and of the State University . But did you know that the buildings of the State University in via festa del perdono have been built , in 1456 at the behest of Francesco Sforza, the first public hospital called Cà Granda ? I have recently discovered . A walk is a must, be careful because not cloisters are not open every Saturday morning .

Cà granda by alice a.

Cà granda by alice a.

5 ) I LIKE MILAN because there  are beautiful shops , I like the neighborhood stores and when I can I walk around looking in the windows shops .. In particular I love the windows of shoes, clothes as well as books ! I ‘am not necessarily interested in buying it just to look around .. My favorite neighborhood is Corso VercelliVia Marghera ( Buonarotti Metro ) and then Piazza Piemonte with the Feltrinelli bookshop where they organize debates and meetings on music and more. If you are in the down town there are also very interesting shops in  Corso Buenos Aires and Via Torino.

Here I do not know if I was able to identify the five things that I like most  in Milan. Please forgive me if I missed something .. of course I cheated by including in more things !  because  I LOVE MILAN 🙂

and you what you like about Milan? let me know your definitely five  things list …:)

DUE MOSTRE GRATUITE / Two free entry exhibitions

Se volete qualche suggerimento per delle mostre a Milano  tra fine maggio e giugno 2014  ho  scelto due  che mi ispirano particolarmente e vorrei vedere prima di fine giugno.

Oltre al fatto che sono gratuite è particolarmente interessante perchè riguardano proprio la città di Milano.

In vista di Expo abbiamo  la possibilità così di indagare la nostra identità.

– una mostra  sull’Identità di Milano , che racconta attraverso immagini,  loghi e grafiche l’immaginario collettivo della città .

è aperta fino a al 1 di giugno alla Triennale.


e poi la mostra  sull’architetto  Luca Beltrami Gadola che tra fine ‘800 e inizio ‘900 contribuì a cambiare il volto di Milano

La mostra si tiene al Castello Sforzesco fino al  29 di giugno . Aperta da martedì a domenica  dalle 9.00 alle 17.30 . Attenzione perchè lunedì è chiusa.


I  suggest you two different exhibitions in Milan that i woudl like to visit before te end of the month.

One  exhibition is Identità Milano , Milan identity ,  is located in Triennale  museum .

The exibition presents graphics, pictures and symbols about milan city to better undestand common perception of the city .

The  other  exhibition  brings light to the work of important italian architect , Luca Beltrami Gadola who worked between 1890 and 1900 definitely changing  city aspect.

1_ Luca Beltrami sul campanile di San Gottardo in Corte

The exhibition  is  located in beautiful Castello Sforzesco and it will end by the  first of June, so you don’t have so much time , go to visit !

Opening days : tuesday- sunday (9.00 a.m -5.00 p.m) Monday closed.

Both exhibitions present different views  of Milan city , it’s a trilling chance to discover more  about thuis marvellous city while we are waiting for Expo 2015.

I forget to say !! Both exhibitions  are free entrance !

I think i will go to visit before the end of june.