Don’t forget Milan? That’s right, seriously. It just seemed impossible to me to spend a whole day only focusing on EXPO 2015 and absorbing impressions on the EXPO grounds. That’s why we treated ourselves to a daily portion of Milan. Here are three bites of the city that I found fascinating.
The first day, right after our arrival on the lookout for a restaurant lunch, we strolled down the Via Vittor Pisani that starts at the main train station. At Republica the following the street vista opened up before us:
My mother called out “good lord,” shocked by such a brutal architecture. We all had a good laugh about it. That we’d keep coming across these buildings later on again and again and that they would actually help us orient ourselves is something we did not anticipate at that moment.
Piazza del Duomo – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Something that I find is a must-do is to stand in the square in front of the Milan Cathedral.
The square was full of people; the stage for a big concert took up nearly all of it. I absolutely wanted to stroll through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II — not necessarily to be awed window shopping the luxury stores but rather to look at the dome and at the crazy floor pattern. I got an eyeful of what I had imagined.
At the end of the passage my father discovered a Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit which we spontaneously included in our itinerary. Incidentally a similar exhibit will soon travel to Switzerland. From the Piazza della Scala across the Via Santa Margherita with a gelato stop at GROM we sauntered back to the Cathedral and there disappeared again into the underground metro. We caught a train for our next target, the Navigli and a prospective lunch.
I went astray once more in confusing the Porta Venezia with Porta Ticino. But as compensation, we discovered a terrific vegan restaurant. RADICETONDA made it onto Marie Claire’s list of the”10 vegan restaurants that you need to put on your bucket list.“ Ha! We found it without trying or even knowing about it.
Porta Garibaldi and Chinatown
In the run up for this trip, a friend had commended a radio broadcast by Bayern 2 to me. That’s how I found out about Milan’s Chinatown. It promised to be fairly exotic, so we went there by metro direction Porta Garibaldi. A quick orientation and then we simply followed the Asians who led us perfectly right into its center. If you don’t have anyone you can follow, you can also get to the heart of Milan’s Chinatown on Tram No. 14. It is a narrow street filled with small shops. You’ll see kitsch cheek by jowl with antique handicrafts in their windows. A vibrant, Asian city district.
On the way back we wound up on the Piazza XXV Aprile. Serendipitously, the Corso Como that starts there took us directly back to the imposing building that had prompted my mother’s “good lord” on the first day.
This enormous developing area is called Porta Nuova. The hanging gardens, modern architecture and the mega project under development surprised, astonished, and fascinated us very much. It is a parcel of monumental, modern architecture and not at all classical Italian.
My hairdresser was the source for this secret tip. He recommended it for the place to have dinner, to stroll and just to be. The Navigli, or Canals, once upon a time were Milan’s transport arteries. Today this area is booming and there’s lots of action here, especially evenings.
On Saturday morning we took the metro to Porta Genova. I had to smile when I discovered a discreet handbill with “NAVIGLI” on it at one of the exits that presumably was designed to show tourists the way. We reached the canal on Via Casale and that’s where we discovered the flea market that wound along its bank. We strolled by the stands and hardly noticed how the time passed. A bit hungry by noon time, we happened on the MERCATO METROPOLITANO. My father steered us unerringly to the grounds. We enjoyed ourselves hugely here. We were enthralled by the animated goings on in this big market hall. Here we encountered sustainability, innovation, and vitality.
But instead we had lunch in the garden of IL MONTALCINO. I prepared the Insalata di carciofi freschi con parmigiano stagionato from the recipe at home but regrettably neglected to photograph it.
More culinary tips
Manuela Tulli of Railtour recommends Mamma Rosa. I would very much have liked to try the cuisine at Trattoria Madonnina, would have liked to visit the Pavé Bakery and in Giulio Pane e Ojo no doubt they would have fed us well. Too bad we were out of time, but there’s always next time. Gelato by GROM we did try twice and were delighted