Lifestyle

Two Days to Fall in Love with the New Milan

A journey on Vespa through the neighborhoods of the city to discover the wonder of its most modern side – through art, architecture and breathtaking venues.
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Duration: two full days

Itinerary: from the skyscrapers of Porta Garibaldi, to the Navigli district and the architecture of Fondazione Prada, about 37 kilometers in total

Equipment: sunglasses, lots of space for purchases

If someone says that "Milan is grey", "Milan is boring", "Milan is devoted solely to business" or that "Milan is ugly", don’t believe them. These are simple biases that Milan has managed to shake off gradually over the past few years, by becoming an ideal destination for an entertaining weekend. New skyscrapers, squares, museums and restaurants have magically appeared, and they are worth being discovered. Fill up your Vespa, and prepare for a two-day itinerary filled with stunning buildings, art and refined style.

As a base, choose a hotel that could fully satisfy your desire for novelty – something like the Nyx Milan. Within walking distance from the central railway station, Nyx is an ideal place, newly opened and includes the works of some of the most prominent street artist of the Italian panorama, including Orion, Moneyless and Seacreative. Inside, besides admiring numerous contemporary exhibitions and playing some arcade games, you can enjoy a nice drink with live DJ sets. But in the morning, happy hour is still far off, therefore head out towards the Porta Garibaldi district for your first stop.

Park your Vespa by the former Teatro Smeraldo, now converted into Eataly, the famous chain store specializing in Italian food. Walk along Corso Como, one of the popular streets for Milanese nightlife, to get to Piazza Gae Aulenti, one of the most renowned contemporary gems in Milan. Designed by the architectural studio Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and opened in 2012, it managed to conquer the prestigious Landscape Institute Award in 2016, entering deservedly among the most beautiful squares in the world. Let yourself be amazed by the harmony of the lines that wind through the fountains and floor-to-ceiling mirrored windows of the imposing Unicredit Tower. Then have a coffee, while admiring the Vertical Forest towers nearby. These residential buildings, designed by Stefano Boeri Architects, are covered with terraces featuring trees of all kinds and have won the 2015 title for “The best tall building in the world”.

After admiring so much beauty – including what’s in the luxury boutiques in the district – it’ll be time for lunch. A short walk from here, you will find a curious small restaurant called Gialle & Co, where you can taste excellent baked potatoes seasoned with the best ingredients of the Italian tradition. After this original and pleasant lunch break, get on your Vespa and go to CityLife, the new district born from the desire to redevelop the area of Milan Fiera Campionaria.

As you approach it, you can admire the imposing skyscrapers that characterize this portion of the city: the Isozaki Tower, designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki and Andrea Maffei, and the Hadid Tower, with its twisting design, planned by late architect Zaha Hadid. Next to them, a third, curve-shaped tower designed by Daniel Libeskind will rise soon. While waiting for the last addition to the square, however, indulge in a healthy session of shopping sprees at the nearby CityLife Shopping District, where you will find shops and cafés to suit all tastes.

After stowing your purchases in the Vespa top case, put on your helmet and get ready for an unforgettable dinner. Go to the WJC Tower in the Portello area, and head to the 20th floor of the building. There you’ll find Unico, one of the restaurants with the most impressive view of the entire city. Thanks to the windows that surround the whole place, you can admire the roofs and lights of Milan while tasting the delicacies prepared by chef Fabrizio Ferrari in an elegant – and at the same time, modern – environment. Snap a photo (or two) to celebrate the moment and then head back to the hotel, with your eyes still dazzled from the city’s magic.

Your second day should start with a hearty breakfast, followed by a trip in the southwest area of the city. Visit the Mudec, the Museum of Cultures, a true vitrine of amazing exhibitions ranging from history, art and culture. Go through the Museum's permanent collection, and then choose one of the current exhibitions – you won’t be disappointed. At the end of the visit, get on your Vespa and move just a few hundred meters further, until you get to the recently renovated Darsena in the Navigli district of Milan. Take a stroll through the stalls and design and craft shops scattered throughout the area, and before leaving, stop for a lunch break at the Vista Darsena, a pretty coffee shop, which – as the Italian name suggests – is situated directly on the water.

Continue your tour of the new Milan with a stop dedicated to contemporary art. Wear your helmet and move towards the southeastern part of the city, where you will find the former Spiriti Distillery, now known worldwide as Fondazione Prada. Here, in this space desired by fashion designer Miuccia Prada and husband, Patrizio Bertelli, you can visit various art exhibitions, enjoying the architecture developed by studio Oma and maybe a coffee at the Bar Luce, designed by director Wes Anderson himself.

To round off your itinerary, get back on the saddle and prepare to gain altitude again. Book a table at Ceresio 7, near the Monumental Cemetery. On the top floor, you can enjoy a delicious drink by the pool overlooking the Milan skyline. The restaurant offers the culinary delights of chef Elio Sironi. Look around, and take it all in one last time before returning to the hotel; Get a mental image of all the wonders that you have encountered in these two days to tell all your friends back home... And respond firmly when you hear someone say that Milan is not nice.

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