Fun things to do in Milan

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    Museo Archeologico. Ancient helmets.

    by Oleg_D. Written Apr 25, 2013

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    Museum of Archeology is situated at the same address as a church San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore. You just should by a ticket. Museum possesses some collection on Ancient Greek Colonies in Italy and Rome. There are some excellent examples of ancient helmets. The main part of exhibition dedicated to the Germanic tribe known as Langobards. These people gave their name to province of Lombardy. One Langobardian settlement and one military camp near Milan were excavated by the archeologists. That’s why there are a lot of Langobardian weapon and defensive equipment in the museum. Using all necessary modern technologies Italian scientists reconstructed Langobardian merchant, warriors and pregnant women using their sculls and bones excavated by archeologists.
    Non commercial photo without flash light and tripod is allowed.

    Hours and tickets:
    From Tuesday through Sunday: 9.00 -17.30
    Closed on every Monday, January 1, May 1, August 15, December 25
    Full ticket € 2,00; reduced € 1,00; Annual ticket € 10.00; reduced € 5.00

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    • Archeology
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    Museo Archeologico /Archeological Museum.

    by Oleg_D. Written Apr 25, 2013

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    Museum of Archeology is situated at the same address as a church San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore. You just should by a ticket. Museum possesses some collection on Ancient Greek Colonies in Italy and Rome. There are some excellent examples of ancient helmets. The main part of exhibition dedicated to the Germanic tribe known as Langobards. These people gave their name to province of Lombardy. One Langobardian settlement and one military camp near Milan were excavated by the archeologists. That’s why there are a lot of Langobardian weapon and defensive equipment in the museum. Using all necessary modern technologies Italian scientists reconstructed Langobardian merchant, warriors and pregnant women using their sculls and bones excavated by archeologists.
    Non commercial photo without flash light and tripod is allowed.
    Hours and tickets:
    From Tuesday through Sunday: 9.00 -17.30
    Closed on every Monday, January 1, May 1, August 15, December 25
    Full ticket € 2,00; reduced € 1,00; Annual ticket € 10.00; reduced € 5.00

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    Via dei Mercanti

    by basstbn Written Mar 20, 2013

    The Via dei Mercanti emerges from the northwest corner of the Piazza del Duomo. There are several palaces along this short street. We also found it to be a popular place for young locals to hang out.

    Here are some photos taken along the street.

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    Monument to Alessandro Manzoni

    by basstbn Updated Mar 20, 2013

    Wandering around the neighborhood just north of the Duomo, we happened upon one of the many small plazas with a church and a statue. For some reason I decided to look closer at the statue to see who was being honored here, discovering it to be Alessandro Manzoni.

    I recognized Manzoni as the person for whom Giuseppi Verde's monumental Requiem mass was written. I knew that he was a poet, but nothing more. Later, I learned that Manzoni was also a novelist and selected as a senator by united Italy's first king, Vittorio Emanuele.

    The church in the background of these photos is the Chiesa di San Fedele.

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    Ew! What's this?

    by goodfish Updated Mar 2, 2013

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    (I lifted some of this from my Rome page about the heraldry of the Barberini family)

    Once upon a time “Italy" was a complicated patchwork of independent city-states with equally complicated governments influenced by wealthy, aristocratic and/or violently warring families. Taking by force, buying your way into or otherwise getting yourself appointed to positions of political or ecclesiastical power was your springboard into the ranks of nobility where you could in turn advance other members of your family; nepotism was rampant. The names of some of these prominent dynasties are in evidence throughout Italy today in the Borghese Museum, Medici Chapels, Villa d'Este and other architectural landmarks financed by their vast fortunes.

    To make sure everyone knew who owned/built/occupied seats of power in residential/church/governmental structures, they attached their coats of arms - or significant parts of them - to gates, walls, doorways, stained glass windows and pretty much any other place they could slap them on.

    The coat of arms you see here belonged to the House of Visconti: the ruling family of Milan from the 13th to the 15th centuries. It was later incorporated into the arms of the House of Sforza through a marriage of a Visconti duchess, Bianca Maria Visconti, to Francesco I Sforza, Duke of Milan from 1450 - 1466. It has a nebulous history based on a number of myths ranging from having been taken from a Saracen vanquished by an ancient family patriarch to an evil, child-eating creature slayed by that same individual. It’s even uncertain if the serpent - called a biscone, and wearing the ducal crown - is devouring or giving birth to a man or child: my example here is clearly the latter where others depict more adult forms.

    Whatever its origins or symbolism, it is an icon of Milan and can be seen on buildings and in the logos of some organizations/products associated with the city, such as Alfa Romeo automobiles.

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    Bars and Gates #5 Porta Genova

    by johngayton Updated Oct 31, 2012

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    During Spanish rule the Porta Genova was the city's most southerly gate but folowing the Napoleonic take over the gate fell into disuse as a defensive structure and was replaced with an very ordinary customs booth.

    Not much remains of the original gate, nor the walls within which it was built, and the area is now a local transport interchange where the Metro, the tram system and the railway all meet.

    Even though there's nothing particularly visible regarding the area's history pre 19th century it is still an interesting place to wander with its oddbod collection of shops and some cracking bars.

    I only had a quick beer here at the Cigar Cafe (pictured) but picked up a pleasantly off-beat buzz from the street and had I not had to head back to get my train out to the airport I might just have hung around here for the evening.

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    Bars and Gates #1 Arco Romanico

    by johngayton Updated Oct 31, 2012

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    One of my favourite things to do in strange cities is to wander the streets and drop into the odd bar or two - just to get a feel of the place of course. Another of my favourite things is to try and get a bit of the sense of history and culture of the city.

    So here in Milan I tried to combine the two by investigating the city's past with an investigation into the remains of the various historical stages of its development as a walled city from Roman (Imperial and Republican) times, through its Medieval era and onto its 16th century reincarnation under Spanish rule.

    I didn't really set out to do this - it just happened!!

    First off was this archway which I think is the Arco Romanico which was just off the corner of vias Manzoni and Spiga. A little research finds virtually nothing about this one except that it is NOT the Porta Romana which I had yet to find.

    I wandered for another 10 minutes or so following via Spiga until I found an interesting side street which led past lots of very posh shops until finally a suitable bar presented itself on the Piazza Liberty, opposite the Ferrari Store.

    Al Panino had a pleasant terrace at the front, complete with the de rigeur ashtrays, and if I remember correctly service was smiling, the beer not too expensive and it made for an ideal pit stop (appropriately) before continuing in earnest.

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    Corso Magenta & Via Carducci

    by ettiewyn Updated Sep 8, 2012

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    We visited Corso Magenta on our last day in Milan, and I must say that it was one of our favourite places. Somehow it felt more real and authentic than the other places we had seen. The buildings lining this street were elegant, but not posh, and there were cafés and restaurants that were visited by the locals. There were not many tourists around here, and it was just pleasant to wander around, soaking in the atmosphere. We were so happy we had come here because this was a totally different Milan to the one we had seen on previous days!

    Corso Magenta is an elegant place, but some corners are a little run down, and it feels very lively and "lived in". Most buildings are quite impressive and big, but not too imposing, which gives the street a comfortable feel.
    One of the most beautiful buildings must be Palazzo Litta, but unfortunately this was under renovation when we visited, so all we could see was a scaffolding. The palazzo was built in 1648, the baroque façade is from 1763. Napoleon was a visitor here once. The building is now owned by the national rail, another part of it is Milan's oldest theatre.
    You cannot visit the interior of the house, but I would have liked to see the exterior - there is a picture here. My photographs 2 and 3 show the building in scaffolding!

    Another street worth visiting in this area is Via Carducci, which leads from Corso Magenta to Sant' Ambrogio. It is not as lively, but there are several impressive buildings here, and I liked it very much.

    To see more pictures of these two streets, please visit my travelogue.

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    Piazza della Scala

    by ettiewyn Written Sep 2, 2012

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    When you come from the Duomo and walk through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, you get to the Piazza della Scala, a pretty piazza which is surrounded by several beautiful buildings.

    To the east, there is the façade of the Teatro della Scala with its classical and impressive look. In the opposite direction, there is the Palazzo Marino. This building was designed in 1558 for a Genoan trader. It became Milan's city hall in 1861. It was only then that the piazza was created, until then, the area had been occupied by buildings, and Palazzo Marino's facade had been looking towards San Fedele. The buildings were torn down, and the palazzo restored to new glory, creating this nice piazza.

    There are two more palazzos facing the square: Palazzo della Banca Commerciale Italiana, which was built in the early 20th century, and Palazzo Beltrami, which was named after Luca Beltrami, the architect who designed the new look of the area.

    The Piazza della Scala is a very nice place and a good spot to have a break, the area is really beautiful and it is nice to sit down in the shade and have a break from exploring. The only downside is that lots of tourists will have the same idea!
    In the middle of the piazza, there is also a big statue of Leonardo da Vinci which was created in 1872.

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    Museo Archeologico

    by ettiewyn Updated Aug 26, 2012

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    Milan's archaeology museum is located in Corso Magenta. We did not actually visit the museum because unfortunately we did not have enough time, but we wandered into the entrance area and were delighted to see that there are some finds displayed there which you can see free of charge! It is an airy courtyard where some large items are on show.

    There are some impressive remnants of Roman architecture in Mediolanum, as Milan was called in Roman times, such as the huge pillars shown in picture 5. Many of the finds were original part of huge public structures that were built by the Celtic aristocracy of the area when they started to adopt Roman ways of life. Some of them have beautiful carvings, such as seen in picture 3.
    Milan was later encircled by a massive wall, and in the entrance area of the museum you can see the only existing part of it that is left (see main picture).

    Picture 4: The entrance of the museum seen from the street
    Picture 2: The entrance area (courtyard)

    I would have loved to go into the museum, but these were our last couple of hours in Milan and so it was not possible. It will absolutely be on my must do list when I go back one day, though! For further info on the museum, please check the link below.

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    Foro Buonaparte

    by ettiewyn Written Aug 25, 2012

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    Foro Buanaparte is the place in front of Castello Sforzesco. It is a boulevard forming a half circle around the entrance to the castle, lined by many elegant buildings from the 19th century - a pretty place! There is a large, modern fountain located here, too, and it was crowded with tourists when we came along. People were sitting on the edge enclosing the fountain, some with their feed in the water to cool off, and some children even playing within the fountain.

    Crossing the street, you get to Largo Benedetto Cairoli, where you find the Metro stop and a large statue of Napoleon on horseback. It is nice here, too, but hard to take good pictures because there is so much traffic. Further on, there is the Via Dante, an elegant street with many cafés and restaurants, but we just caught a glimpse of it before we took the metro to Stazione Centrale, to leave Milan and go home *sigh* :-(

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    Pirelli Tower

    by ettiewyn Updated Aug 22, 2012

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    If you are in the area of Stazione Centrale and walk along where the main entrance is (at Piazzale Duca D'Aosta), you cannot miss the Pirelli Tower. It is a large skyscraper - compared to what I'm used to, anyway!

    The tower was constructed from 1955 to 1960 and was designed by a group of seven architects. It is 127m high, and for a few months, it was the highest skyscraper made of reinforced concrete in the world. Being built in the post-war years, it became a symbol of Milan's recovery after the war.

    There are some interesting facts about this building! Firstly, it is located at the spot where in 1872, Giovan Battista Pirelli had his first tyre factory. Moreover, it was the first building ever in Milan that was allowed to be higher than the Duomo! To make amends, a small statue of a Madonna was installed on the roof of the Pirelli Tower.

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    If Modern Art Is Your Thing...

    by johngayton Written Jul 5, 2012

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    Milan is definitely a very sophisticated city with a host of galleries and museums sufficient in number and quality to satisfy even the most touristy of cultured tourists.

    Me I was too busy drinking beer and taking photos of girls on bicycles to bother too much with that aspect of the city but I did manage a slightly bewildering visit to the Galleria D'Arte Moderna.

    This gallery is housed in the Villa Reale which was built between 1790-96 as the city residence of the Count Ludovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso. The villa is considered one of the city's prime examples of Neo-Classical architecture of this period and indeed it is a rather magnificent structure and worth a visit in its own right.

    Not having planned to visit I had no idea of what to expect and just wandered in. It seems this is a freebie - well at least there was no admission prices posted nor did the people at the front desk accost me.

    This was when my bewilderment came on. From its name I'd assumed that "Modern" would mean "Contemporary" but after the first few minutes I realised that the "Modern" bit must have been applied at the time the building was aquired by the municipal authority in 1903.

    It is though quite an interesting gallery to just browse even though I found the layout a bit haphazard but then of course that was probably (definitely) due to the fact that I'd done no pre-visit research and didn't have a clue what I was looking at most of the time!

    One pic that caught my attention was a painting by the Milanese artist Fidanza Francesco in the Galleria D'Arte Moderna entitled "Incendio in un Porto di Mare" for the simple reason that I'd visited the Porto di Mare earlier that day and had found no trace of the sea gate.

    Doing a little post-visit research on the website I realise that the gallery is actually quite well laid out with its various collections logically arranged and that most of Europe's acknowledged masters are represented. There's works by Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso and many more - you just have to know where they are and be able to recognise (and appreciate) them when you find them!

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    A Little History - The Spanish Walls

    by johngayton Written Jul 5, 2012

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    Following the demise of the Sforza family, who ruled the city between 1447 and 1519, the city became essentially a Spanish outpost under the mercenary leadership of the "Condottiero" Ferrante Gonzaga. He was responsible for the construction, between 1546 and 1560 of the city walls whose 11 km circumference totally encircled the city.

    These walls were a substantial defensive barrier about 5 metres high and wide enough for horse drawn carts to be used to transport materials and armaments. Access to the city was by means of 11 gates, several of which are still in place.

    The walls were pretty much demolished at the end of the 19th century to allow the city's expansion and one of the few remaining secions is at the Porta Romana where there is a small exhibition centre.

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    Where to get, write and post your postcards.

    by johngayton Written Jul 4, 2012

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    Another thing I love about a good railway station is that it can be a one-stop location for all those little bits and pieces us travellers need to do anytime we get a chance to pause physically. Milan's Central Station is one such and on my journey onwards to Bergamo I needed to pick up a postcard, find somewhere to write it and then post it.

    The "Tabacchi Valori Bollati" on the station's lower concourse (where the ticket office and machines are) friendlily provided the postcard and stamp. Almost next door was the fast food cafe Spizzico where a nice clean table awaited - complete with a beer to assist the creative writing process - and, as a slight digression, also handily provides very visible power points should you need to recharge your phone or plug in your laptop.

    Finally just round the corner were the postboxes and so that was job sorted without walking much more that 30 metres :-)

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