Places and charm
To discover the most romantic, attractive side of this city: from the picturesque views of the Navigli to the green oases in the center of Milan
The origins of the Navigli date back to about 1100, but this stretch of water was only made navigable from the Ticino to the center of Milan at the end of the 14th century, to help transport the marble that was needed to build the Duomo. The Milan Wharf, that was an important commercial port for river transport for many centuries, was still working up to the end of the Second World War, and then closed permanently in 1979.
Today the Naviglio Grande and the Naviglio Pavese (that connects Milan to Pavia) make up one of the most charming places in Milan, with the old, typical case di ringhiera houses, antique shops and hundreds of clubs standing on each side, that are invade the banks of the rivers from April to September with their open-air tables.
This is one of the most exclusive and fashionable places in Milan, that has an atmosphere vaguely reminiscent of Paris, with its artists, open-air coffee shops and sophisticated boutiques - full of wares for the home and handmade dresses that seem to be creations of sculptors and not dressmakers. This area, that could be described as luxury Bohemian includes Via Brera, Via Solferino, Via Pontaccio, Corso Garibaldi and Corso Como. Alongside it there are many eighteenth century palaces including Palazzo Brera at number 28 Corso Como that houses the famous Pinacoteca.
- Parco Sempione
This park stands behind Castello Sforzesco. It is huge and fascinating with its lakes, meadows and little bridges. It is the ideal place to spend a Sunday afternoon in the fresh air. The Park is home to monuments such as the Arena Napoleonica, the Tower designed by Giò Ponti and the Triennale di Milano.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
This was built around 1870 and is called the salotto di Milano (The Milan Lounge): If you walk along its cross-shaped "arms", topped by the glass and iron structure, you can see old coffee-shops, restaurants, boutiques and historical bookshops.
- Porta Venezia Gardens
These wonderful gardens can be found between Via Palestro and Porta Venezia, the favorite place to be for the Milanese on springtime afternoons. The gardens which were the first to be opened to the public in Milan, date back to the end of the eighteenth century and were renovated in 1880. There are many monuments dedicated to famous characters from Italian history and there are also many botanical species to be admired.
- Piazza Mercanti
This characteristic square near the Duomo is surrounded by very interesting historical buildings that represent Milanese culture from the middle ages to the seventeenth century. These include Palazzo della Ragione that dates back to 1200, the Loggia degli Osii, the seventeeth century Palazzo delle Scuole Palatine and Palazzo dei Giureconsulti that stands at the top of Via Mercanti.
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