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Blick auf Mailand, Bild: s74 / shutterstock

Milan – of simple beauty and Italian elegance

A white cathedral, pink flamingos and old trams, Camparis, Scala, football and noble style – this is Milan.

Milan is certainly not a city of romantic love. It is the city of love at second sight. Milan doesn’t have the big Italian feeling, Milan isn’t the prettiest city in Italy, but maybe that’s why it’s so original.

How strange does it feel to be in love with Milan of all places? A Milanese answers:
“The street gets caught in your hair, the spotlight in your eyes, your heart tastes like asphalt and cars passing by – you are my city, reminding me that I am one of many who feel this rush, because you are my city!”

Milan – Between style, charm and passion

Castello Sforzesco, Milan
Castello Sforzesco, Image: Viacheslav Lopatin / shutterstock

Less famous than Rome or Florence, Milan is a leading economic center and a forward-thinking city with a rich history. The capital of Lombardy is the second largest city in Italy and one of the most vibrant and elegant cities in the country.

A visit is worthwhile because of the imposing architecture of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the oldest shopping arcade in the world. No less impressive is the cathedral, a marble building of gigantic dimensions with centuries of architectural history. From the roof terraces of the cathedral there are wonderful views.

Humorous and unpredictable, a little stubborn and eccentric, arrogant and sometimes exhausting, that’s how Milan presents itself. The city with the highest population density after Naples is always on the move.

In the Quadrilatero della Moda, the quadrangle of fashion, there is the world’s highest concentration of expensive designer boutiques. For most people, this window shopping is more like a visit to a museum. In everything they do, the Milanese have to look good – make a “bella figure”. This is especially true where the sidewalk becomes a catwalk. In Milan, fashion, art and its social influence should not be underestimated. Fashion and elegance are not only celebrated in Milan by the great designers. The Milanese are very proud when they wear the piece from an unknown tailor, which they consider to be the absolute insider tip.

To the heart of the city – in the rings of the city walls

Milan, Cathedral
The Cathedral of Milan, Image: Viacheslav Lopatin / shutterstock

There is no river and no prominent mountain. However, Milan’s distinctly centralist structure rests on two rings. Cerchia dei Navigli is the first ring. Surrounded by a canal, it is located within the medieval city walls and is home to most of the sights. Within the second ring, which is based on old city walls of Spanish origin, there are other sights. The centre is the historic old town, dominated by the impressive cathedral.

Step by step, you get closer to Milan, even with a furtive glance through magnolia hedges. Here you can meet the pink beauties (flamingos) in the private garden of Villa Invernizzi Fenicotteri.

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Milan is not an easy city for the tourist, it does not offer itself. Often you only see what you know. The city only shows itself at second glance. All you have to do is open a door. The courtyards of Milan are magical. Entering it is highly recommended. Normally, squares define Italian cities. The Milanese, on the other hand, lives in courtyards. Most of them are open to the public, such as the courtyard of Palazzo Camargno in the Lombard Renaissance, which is well worth seeing.

In the heart of Milan

Milan, Lombardy
Image: kavalenkava / shutterstock

Take the tram to the center of Milan. The Milanese love their tram, the oldest public transport with the indestructible carriages that have been in use since 1928. At an approximate cruising speed of 11 kilometers per hour, you reach the first station: the Teatro on the Skala. First, the view wanders to the Piazza della Scala.

This is probably the most curious ritual of happiness in the city. The Milanese call their Galeria Vittorio “the salon”. The dome of the famous shopping arcade is made of steel and glass and is almost as large as that of St. Peter’s Basilica. The Galeria was, so to speak, the first shopping mile of the 19th century, named after the first king of unified Italy. Soon attention turns to the noble mosaic floor, more precisely to the city coat of arms with the bull. If you now turn your heel on the “best piece” of the bull, it is said to bring good luck to people, according to a Milanese embassy – indeed, a curious ritual of happiness. This is fun for the tourists, only the testicles of the bull have to be restored regularly.

After these impressions, you can treat yourself to a first, delicious aperitif. The best place to stay is in the Campari. It is here that Gaspare Campari is said to have served the red bitter substance for the first time. It is probably the most famous bar in the city.

To the largest mountain in Milan – ascent to the Duomo Terraces

Milan Skyline
The skyline of Milan, Image: Viacheslav Lopatin / shutterstock

The metropolis of northern Italy combines vibrant life with glamorous historical ambience. Milan is not only the city of fashion, art and design, it also impresses with important religious buildings, beautiful churches and impressive collections of Italian painting. The cathedral is the most beautiful example of Gothic architecture and, next to the Cathedral of Seville , the largest Gothic building in Europe.

In Milano, in the middle of the plain, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Nascente was the highest elevation for centuries. In a decree from the 1930s, it was regulated that no building could be higher than the golden statue of the Madonna, the Madonnina. But even it has not been able to stop the construction boom of recent years. The top of the Torre Unicredit alone is twice as high as the Madonnina. To make sure she wasn’t offended, copies of her were placed on some of the skyscrapers.

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Anyone who climbs onto the roof of the third largest church in Christendom also enjoys a short walk through art history. Here, too, there is a certain population density. The Madonnina watches over a people of stone – over three thousand saints and martyrs. Inside the cathedral stands Bartholomew. He wears his own skin over his shoulder elegantly like a coat. This probably gives it the honour of standing in the majestic interior.

Milanese love their happiness rituals. At the main portal, it is the calf of a flagellation group that you have to touch.

The square in front of the cathedral is like a big stage. Here you are never alone. The pigeons are omnipresent. From here you can admire not only the old town, but also the beautiful architectural décor of the church.

Of master builders and artists

Milan, Porta Sempione
Porta Sempione, Image: easy camera / shutterstock

The Teatro alla Scala does not seem as imposing as one would expect due to its world fame. The hits of the 19th century were written by Giuseppe Verdi, Italy’s most beloved opera composer. In the foyer, he greets the guests streaming in, side by side with his no less famous colleagues. The view of the stage of Toscanini’s former place of work gives you goosebumps. Enrico Caruso and Maria Callas thrilled here.

Opposite La Scala stands a pensive man on his pedestal – Leonardo from the small village of Vinci. He applied for a job in Milan and, thanks to his diverse skills, he got it. One of his places of work was the Castello Sforzesco, the Milan City Palace. The construction of the Kremlin supposedly provided inspiration.

Da Vinci became one of the most important scientists and researchers of all time. Along the way, he created the most famous mural ever.

In the church of Santa Maria de Grazie you can marvel at “The Last Supper” for 15 minutes by prior appointment.

A real urban jungle is formed by the high-rise complex “Bosco Vertikale”, the vertical forest. With over 900 trees, the green high-rise towers provide important habitats for birds and clean air for residents. The award-winning Twin Towers are the work of architect Stefano Boeri.

Milan and its contrasts are proverbial. A special scenery underlines this statement. Behind the skyscrapers, along the famous trendy mile Corso Como, behind house no. 10 is an idyllic courtyard with a garden café in Milanese style. This enchanting retreat results in a picturesque overall concept with a restaurant, gallery, music shop and bookstore.

Tip: In the south of the city, the Milanese have also reclaimed space. Since 1993, there has been an extraordinary art foundation at the Fondazione Prada, just outside the center – a campus of art spaces.

Not far away, the special location of an American in Italy beckons. Furnished by cult director Wes Anderson, the café conjures up a great atmosphere with the interior of the 50s.

Also worth seeing is the haunted house tower of the old gin factory, whose façade is covered with gold leaf. He shines wonderfully, even when the sun is not shining.