The Italian city of fashion and design, Milan, just like others big European capitals, is a bustling city, with a lot to offer from a cultural point of view.
You certainly know the main attractions like the Duomo with the elegant Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the fashion district and the Navigli.
But today we want to show you an original side of this city, telling you 5 unusual things to see in Milan. Ready to be amazed?
Inspired by the Pinocchio fable, the section in the Triennale dedicated to kids is a journey inside the magical world of Collodi. You will end up crossing a boardwalk on the nose of the most famous wooden boy of the world and once crossed the entrance you will find yourself in the whale’s belly, the section of the Triennale dedicated to the small kids with workshops, exhibitions, videos, presentations all child-friendly.
This is a space expressily conceived for the children to become more interested in museums and to bring the adults back to childhood.
One of the most famous (and hidden) churches of the centre of Milan is San Satiro. You hardly see the entrance, hidden among the fashion shops in via Torino.
Walk to the street number 17/19, sweep past the courtyard where there’s the entrance and once crossed the front door prepared to be amazed. The illusion is perfect and you’ll have to walk up close to the altar to see that the apsis you’re are seeing, actually doesn’t exist! The author of this perspectival deceit is one of the greatest Italian architects, Donato Bramante.
But why this work of intelligence? The necessity was merely for practice, that is lack of space. Bramante took up the challenge and modified the first sketch of the church taking it into scale: the fake apsis measures 97 cm (3.2 feet) instead of the 9,7 meters (32 feet) of the original sketch.
The architect took the credit for realizing a magnificent trompe l’oeil, earning the everlasting fame as the forerunner of 3D.
Small unknown gems in the heart of the city, the house museum of Milan are 4 private residences that from 2008 are part of the Circuito delle case museo milanesi. The Museo Bagatti Valsecchi, the Casa Museo Boschi Di Stefano, Villa Necchi Campiglio and Museo Poldi Pezzoli will welcome you with rooms decorated with art collections and secret gardens in the centre of the city, here you will see the former glory of the aristocrats families that lived in them.
A true gem, to discover a different Milan compared to the classical touristy tours.
In the Maggiolina area, in Via Lepanto, you will find very curious looking households, shaped as an Igloo: dating back to 1946, these houses were built by the engineer Mario Cavallè, that imported the building technique from the United States.
The shape is not accidental: constructed with a vault that unloads the weight of the structure on the igloo itself, this solution allows maximum freedom in the arrangement of the spaces. The map of these unique houses is round, with a diameter of 7.5 meters (25 feet) for a surface of 45/50 m2 (538 ft2). The igloos are made up of two levels: the main ground floor and a basement.
Once 12, now 8, are now still inhabited by private citizens. The houses are named Villaggio dei Giornalisti (Journalists’ village), because the members of the company for whom the houses were built were mainly journalists, writers and artists.
A curiosity: in the same street, up until the 60’s there were other houses with even a more curious shape, that of a mushroom, with all the stem and the cap with the polka dots, but unfortunately they were demolished by the engineer’s nephew that had built them.
Designed and built in the 20’s, the Albergo Diurno Metropolitano, as it was know back then, was open from 7am to 11pm and would offer a series of services other than public toilets (showers and toilets): from the barber shop and hairdresser, manicure, pedicure, photographer, travel agent, laundry to the typist; all services, arranged in salons finely furnished with mosaic, statues and fountains, were distributed in a space of 1.200 m2 (12916 ft2).
Situated in the basement of Piazza Oberdan, this gem of the Art Decò, would offer its services to travelers, residents and citizen looking for some leisure, and because of its strategic position it became the most important one in Italy. With the relocation of the Central Railway station, in the 30’s, the construction of the subway of Porta Venezia in the 60’s and the closure of the thermal baths, that had no reason to exist anymore (in the 80’s every apartment had a private bathroom), the building was completely abandoned.
Today, this fascinating corner of Milan can be visited on the occasion of giornate di apertura FAI.
Have you ever visited these 5 unusual things in Milan? Do you know others?
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