10 must do in Milan
Nataly Osmann

Unfortunately, most people share the stereotypical view that Milan is only good for shopping. I totally disagree! I present you my 10 must do activities in the fashion capital. Note that none of them have to do with shopping. I feel that the more varied our program is, the more chances you have to really fall in love with the city. My relationship with Milan, for instance, is extremely serious.

1. Absorb the scent of Italy

Avery Perfume Gallery isn’t just a boutique; it’s a wonderland for those who value rare, selected aromas, shipped to Italy from all corners of the world. When you step inside, you find yourself in a parallel dimension where walls are replaced with illuminated mirrors, windows are made of colored glass, and bottles that could contain the elixir of eternal youth instead of regular perfume. There are two magical galleries in Milan, but my favorite is on Galleria del Corso, 4.

2. Admire Michelangelo’s unfinished masterpiece

There are multiple reasons to visit the delicate, yet mighty residence of the most influential people in Milan – the Sforza castle. Maybe it's because of Napoleon’s Arc of Peace, Da Vinci’s frescos, or the antique furniture of rare beauty… But for me, the selling point will always be the genius of Michelangelo, since it’s here that one of his last works resides – Pieta Rondanini. The sculpture wasn’t finished, but that makes it even more piercing and touching.

3. Visit the furniture workshop

Studio Achille Castiglioni (Piazza Castello, 27) is a secret place, and not well known to many citizens of Milan. This is a unique hybrid between a workshop, a creative cluster, a museum and a private facility. The space was created by Achille Castillioni – a famous Italian designer, who passed away in 2002. His best sketches and models are here and you can also observe the process of creation of the interior objects. The atmosphere is as if the artist just went out for a second to pour himself a cup of tea.

4. Have dinner in an old tram

City tram is one of Milan’s main symbols. The first trams, painted bright yellow, began circling the city back in the 1920s and were replaced in the 50s by their orange counterparts. In the 70s the trams underwent yet another makeover, this time gaining a bottle green coloring. The interior of these “city blimps” was made of natural wood and the ceiling was decorated with corrugated lampshades. One of these antique trams still makes its way through the center of the city, though now it is the restaurant, ATMosfera. You can book a table or find out the schedule here.

5. Pay a visit to a grocery shop

Peck (Via Spadari, 9) is a legendary grocery store, which has been a meeting place for gourmets of the city since 1883. This luxurious shop cannot be called an ordinary grocery store. It is a true gastronomic empire, where they sell the freshest meat, the most flavorful cheese, the crispiest buns for breakfast, and the most expensive gourmet meals. There is also a restaurant with the same name next to the shop, where all of these amazing ingredients are successfully combined into the best dishes of Italian cuisine.

6. Become Tilda Swinton for a day

Everyone knows of Milan’s love for luxury and dolce vita. If you ask me, Villa Necchi Campiglio (Via Mozart, 14) is the perfect reflection of this. Saying that this is a beautiful city villa is an understatement. You want to stay here. Forever. Walking through the never-ending rooms with windows wide open to the lush, the green garden, you start imagining yourself as Tilda Swinton’s heroine from “I Am Love”, in which all scenes take place among these utopian decorations..

7. Imagine that you’re in Venice

Navilla Canals is a colorful, youthful and bright district of old Milan, straddling the modest canal basins. Sure, the comparison to Venice may be a bit of an exaggeration: the sie of canals in Milan is much smaller, but riding a boat through them is still tons of fun. After the tour, you can pay a visit to one of the modern local bars, where the city’s most artistic individuals reside from dinnertime onwards.

8. Be late for a train

To be honest, a train ticket is just an excuse to visit one of the Old World’s most beautiful train stations Stazione Centrale (Piazza Duca d'Aosta, 1). The outlandish, ivory colored building stands in the square like a rare animal frozen in awe of the city traffic. Stoic pride from the outside cacophony of noise, people and suitcases on the inside. Make sure to go to the Central station of Milan whether you don’t have anywhere to ride the train to or if you missed yours.

9. Leave the center for the sake of art

The “Hangar Bicocca” Museum (Via Chiese, 2) is something truly incredible for Milan. It is located in the industrial district of Bicocca to the north-west of Milan, and is pretty far from the center. An old factory hangar was transformed into a unique art complex by the Pirelli Company. And now because of the sheer size of the factory, this is where the largest art installations are held, with hangars and lofts containing more than a thousand exhibits. Works of modern art giants like Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Tomas Saraceno and Marina Abramovich showcase their masterpieces here.

10. Take a stroll through the garden district

Who would’ve thought that a whole district in the center of Milan is hidden away! And what a district it is! The Via Abramo Lincoln street is called “the garden quarter”. It is very short – just a few hundred meters, but it’s surrounded by colorful yellow two-three storey residential homes. This is a perfect place for a romantic shoot: blooming flower beds, bright green lawns, white curtains wavering in the wind, fat cats basking in sunlight… After the hustle and bustle of the fashion week, this place seems like a real oasis in the whirlpool of Milan’s fast-paced lifestyle.

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