“Milan is beautiful in fog, like a woman with a veil.”  Ornella Vanoni

Being one of the main and renowned cities of Northern Italy, Milan is not only the house for various Fashion trendsetters like how it is popularly seen; it is also known as the design Mecca. The history dates back to 600BC, with a small period as the capital of the Italian Empire, under Napoleon. 

After the city was besieged in the Second World War, the city saw new instances of Milan’s changed structural and plan history. The Duomo with its gothic towers and flying supports and Liberty-style apartments that weave together Art Nouveau twist with traditional components are some notable examples. After the Second World War is when Milan acquired an identification for its architectural style, the style Milano, which was thanks to the work of people like Giuseppe Terragni, Gio Ponti, BBPR, Caccia Dominioniand Aldo Rossi.

The past decade saw the development of two major urban regeneration projects – Porta Nuova and City Life and some other specific interventions like the Vertical Forest, Feltrinelli, Mudec, etc. Today, Milan is booming with new additions to the skyline with tall high rises, such as Bosco Verticale and organisations like Fondazione Prada are supporting the development of social spaces specked with bars, eateries, exhibitions and a lot of shops. 

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Porta Nuova _© www.dreamstime.com 

The city is more like a book of History, developments, art and culture and people’s lifestyles along with fashion, cheese and wine. Tourists flank Milan throughout the year and there are a few places that no tourist will want to miss. One of these is the Opera La Scala, an opera house in Milan where most of Italy’s greatest operatic artists, and many of the finest singers from around the world, have appeared. The theatre has undergone renovations, enhancing the sound quality and improving the structure. 

Milan’s famous Duomo,  the ancient and modern Italian Renaissance begins to meet, is hard to miss as it can be accessed through multiple paths.b The glass vaulted arcades of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is one such path that is enclosed by an iron and glass roof and is flanked on both sides by shops and galleries. It acts as a connection between the Duomo and the La Scala theatre

The city consists of many churches, and the most important one to visit is the Milan Cathedral. To admire its fretwork, carving and sculptures, 468 steps had to be climbed. It acts as a symbol of Napoleonic power. Another symbol of Napoleonic power is the Royal Palace. This consisted of the first English garden designed in Milan. 

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The Duomo _© www.thelonelyplanet.com 
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La Scala Theatre, Milan _© www.artsandculture.google.com 
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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele _© www.tiqets.com 
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The Royal Palace, Milan _© www.wantedinmilan.com 

Santa Maria Delle Grazie convent is another not-to-miss landmark in Milan. Perhaps because of Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘The last Supper’ painting on the ceiling of the dining room. It is a symbol of Renaissance Milan. Apart from these architectural and artistic wonders, an important item in every tourists’ travel itinerary is promenading and watching the local activities. The principal promenades in Milan are the Ramparts, the Corso and the Esplanade. 

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Remains of the Spagnola wall on the sunny side of the Terme di Milano _© Ghisolabella

In 2020, Milan’s Strade Aperte, translating to open roads, is getting one of Europe’s most aspiring portability plans. This will significantly change city planning: bringing cycle lanes and pedestrian spaces to 22 miles of city roads, and allowing safe travel. A progression of ventures is in progress in the city, including new lodging, schooling, culture and science centre points. 

Italy’s tallest high rise, Cesar Pelli’s Unicredit Tower, remains at the core of the city’s quick-creating, present-day area—the Porta Nuova locale. Stefano Boeri’s verdant and grant-winning Bosco Verticale lodging plan is noticeable from the square and the territory’s new park, the BAM.  These talk about the future of Milan and the possibilities of development in this place. 

The city has been designed for walking as only walking can etch the experience of the city of Milan into the minds of people. The smell of coffee, leather, the yellow glow of boutique stores and shops opening up to the streets make up part of the intangible Milan experience. 

This could mainly be the reason why there are pedestrian pathways next to roads with vehicular access as well as separate pedestrian pathways. One place can be accessed through multiple routes. This way people have the opportunity to explore the city in their own ways and the route a person chooses will shape their experience. 

Sometimes, two types of paths parallelly run, a semi-enclosed colonnaded path and a completely open pedestrian pathway, allowing the city explorers to choose if they want to be exposed to the continental climate of Milan

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© www.traveltriangle.com 

The completely pedestrian-occupied pathways are lined by green plants on both sides and also contain spillover outdoor cafes. These outdoor cafes are quite common in Milan and can be observed in most of the pedestrian paths. Even very narrow streets have tried to incorporate these outdoor cafes and seatings to encourage street life and street activity. 

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© Robert Harding
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Outdoor cafes _© www.mymilanguide.wordpress.com  

These narrow pathways run through multiple places. Despite lesser crowd density on some streets, the feeling of safety is not compromised. The windows of the buildings and shops that open up to the street through large glass windows or stalls and seatings outside the shop act as the ‘Eyes on the street’, a concept explained by Jane Jacobs.  

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Eyes on the street _© www.youtube.com 

Apart from being a mix of various materials and colours, the buildings of Milan have also been oriented differently or staggered to create  elements of surprise. For example, as a person walks through a supposedly linear Street, he comes to realise only once he/she reaches closer that one of the facades is that of a building that has been oriented differently, with streets on both sides, breaking the linearity. 

In some instances, new buildings, or old buildings and open plazas also act as these surprise elements, by slowly revealing themselves as one walks closer. 

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View of a street and a different coloured building revealing itself as you move closer  _© www.youtube.com 
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View of a street and a different coloured building revealing itself as you move closer _© www.youtube.com 
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View of a street and a different coloured building revealing itself as you move closer _© www.youtube.com 
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View of a street and a different coloured building revealing itself as you move closer _© www.youtube.com 
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View of a street and a different coloured building revealing itself as you move closer _© www.youtube.com 

Another method incorporated to excite the walker is by evoking their curiosity through the usage of arches and open portals. These portals or open arches that reveal the view of a different building, either close by or far away, a garden or even another street, encourages the user to get lost a little and wander the city. Milan is hence like a friendly storyteller, introducing you to its history and life in exciting and thrilling ways.

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Arches and openings showing glimpses of other streets or monuments _© www.youtube.com 
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Arches and openings showing glimpses of other streets or monuments _© www.youtube.com 
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Arches and openings showing glimpses of other streets or monuments _© www.youtube.com 

“Milan is a true metropolis: strong and fearless but welcoming, too. Little by little, I came to realize that I could become someone here.” Giorgio Armani

References

  • Mussio, G. (n.d.). Milan’s Duomo | A Timeline of Culture. [online] Culture Trip. Available at: https://theculturetrip.com/europe/italy/articles/milan-s-duomo-a-timeline-of-culture/
  • www.milano24ore.it. (n.d.). Modern Architecture in Milan, the new Skyline. [online] Available at: https://www.milano24ore.it/cityinfo/buildings/modern_architecture.php [Accessed 18 May 2021].
  • Timeless Travel Steps. (2020). City of Milan Travel Guide | Italy. [online] Available at: https://timelesstravelsteps.com/travel-adventures-stories-on-culture-and-history/europe/italy-a-complete-one-stop-resource-for-travellers/city-of-milan-travel-guide-italy/ [Accessed 18 May 2021].
  • Guiding Architects. (n.d.). Architecture Tour Milan. [online] Available at: https://www.guiding-architects.net/architecture-tour/milan/ [Accessed 18 May 2021].
  • www.youtube.com. (n.d.). Walk around Milan Italy 4K. [online] Available at: https://youtu.be/itLNEX0Jn78 [Accessed 18 May 2021].
Author

Inspired by architecture and filled with a passion for writing, MeghaSubodh is an Architecture student pursuing her studies in RV college of Architecture, Bangalore. Influence of people, culture and climate on Architecture is an area that evinces much interest in her. She is desirous of giving voice to Architecture through her writings and is consistently striving to improvise herself in this field.

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