100 (+1) Things to Do in Milan

A list also known as 100 Things You Must Prove To Have Seen or Done Before You Get To Whine That There’s Nothing to do here

1. The resident flamingos in Villa Invernizzi’s garden

2. The epitome of bourgeois Milan, the house-museum Villa Necchi Campiglio

3. A flawless Negroni overlooking Piazza Duomo, ideally from Terrazza Aperol

4. A guided tour (it’s free!) of the Cimitero Monumentale di Milano

5. Walk around Chinatown, even just to “Ooh” and “Aah” over the unusual fruits and vegetables

6. The Museo Del Novecento if only just to view the grandiose Il Quarto Stato on the first floor (it’s free!)

7. A proper Risotto alla Milanese – saffron risotto – at Ratanà or Trattoria Masuelli San Marco

8. Tour the city’s secret courtyards, in the days they open to the public thanks to the Associazione Dimore Storiche Italiane

9. Drink a glass of Ghisa, artisanal smoked Stout at Birrificio Lambrate

10. A matinée – or morning show – in one of the city center’s remaining cinemas, an area that used to be called “Little Broadway”

11. Buy – or  longingly ogle – a custom-made bag by Fontana Milano 1915 from their artisanal workshop in via Trebbia

12. The Brera Botanical Garden, hidden in plain sight as Poe’s Stolen Letter at the very end of Via Fratelli Gabba

13. The Bramante’s trompe l’oeil inside the Santa Maria Church in San Satiro

14. Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper

15. The Catholic University‘s Cloisters, especially the so-called Garden of the Virgins (no need to wear your Purity Ring though)

16. Walk around the spires of the Duomo– you will soon notice that every statue is different

17. A guided tour of the Branca factory, the inventor of the popular liqueur Fernet-Branca

18. An A.C. Milan -Inter Milan soccer match at the San Siro stadium

19. The skulls chapel inside the Church of San Bernardino alle Ossa (“of the Bones”, literally)

20. During a cool summer morning, go for an early run (or read a book, whatever’s more to your liking) in the Indro Montanelli gardens

21. Bernardino Luini’s frescos inside the Church of San Maurizio, Milan’s own “Sistine Chapel”

22. An Opera at the La Scala theatre, if your budget allows it. Or, watch a prima (opening night) on one of the maxi screens set up in several locations in the city.

23. The blooming of the magnolia tree behind the Duomo’s apse, a telltale sign of spring’s arrival (see picture!)

24. The newly reopened Darsena, Milan’s freshwater harbor.

25. Hayez’s Il Bacio (The Kiss) and the Pinacoteca di Brera‘s many other masterpieces

26. The Portinari Chapel inside Sant’Eustorgio Basilica

27. The Mount Resegone, clearly visible from viale Tunisia in days where the warm wind Fhön is blowing

28. The Villa Reale’s Garden, where you are only allowed to enter if you have children with you (or you are a child yourself, duh)

29. Enjoy some fancy gardening at Orticola

30. The Cloisters of the Università Statale

31. The Ca’ Brutta – that is, the “Ugly House” – by architect Giovanni Muzio, that Milanese hated with a passion when it was first built – hence the nickname

32. The brand new skyline of kuxurious skyscrapers alternating with working class building from the 19th Century in the Quartiere Isola

33. The Liberty-style building inside the Parco Vittorio Fomentano, the only remaining structure of the Verziere, the fruit and vegetables market which closed for good in 1965.

34. The peculiar building designed by the architect Luigi Moretti in Corso Italia

35. The Church of Sant’Alessandro in Zebedia, a baroque masterpiece

36. Lose (badly) at a game of bocce balls to one of the elderly regulars who plays daily in the court in via Morgagni

37. The celebrated designer Achille Castiglioni‘s Wunderkammer, a studio and museum

38. The “ca dell’uregia”, or “the house with the ear”, a Liberty era building with an ear-shaped door phone

39. An exhibition at Hangar Bicocca – in general, they’re all so good that it’s OK to pick randomly

40. The Chiostri dell’Umanitaria

41. A ride on the historical Tram n.2 that leaves from Porta Genova

42. The house-museum in via Magolfa 42 of revered poet Alda Merini, who spent many years in a mental asylum

43. Take in the grand sight of the building inside the Fondazione Prada, completely covered in 36k gold leaf, while sipping an aperitivo at the Wes Anderson designed Bar Luce

44. The Santa Maria delle Grazie cloister when flowers are in bloom. Playing with the frog-shaped fountains is basically mandatory.

45. The Sala Venezia dancing floor, filled with the most agile 80-year-olds you’re ever bound to see

46. The sun setting over the Abbazia Cirstercense di Chiaravalle

47. A winter afternoon at the Planetarium, discovering the constellations

48. A long walk in the Boscoincittà orchards

49. The Gallerie d’Italia painting collection in Piazza della Scala

50. Overhear the ladies (or sciure, as we’ say in Milanese dialect) chatting away at Pasticceria Cucchi

51. Porselli‘s custom-made ballerinas

52. Watch a heron take off and fly away, biking along the Naviglio Martesana

53. Writer Millos murales in the Garden of Cultures in via Morosini

54. An Espresso coffee and a custard-filled bignè at the century old brass counter at Pasticceria Marchesi

55. Eat a fritto misto at Arci Bellezza, where the writings on the wall call for the proletarian fight

56. Take a trip inside fashion designer Giorgio Armani’s mind in his Armani/ Silos museum

57. The newly opened Mudec (Museum of Cultures)

58. The oddly riveting dusty taxidermy of the Museo di Storia Naturale

59. The brightly colored Bagni Misteriosi, Mysterious Baths, of artist Giorgio De Chirico in the garden of La Triennale di Milano

60. Run among the ladybugs on the Naviglio course

61. The Gio Ponti-designed house on via Domenichino

62. Enjoy a drink in a plastic cup at the Colonne di San Lorenzo – of course you’re still young enough, why are you even asking?

63. The Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, patron saint of the city

64. Pasticceria Galli‘s delicious marron glacè

65. A Sunday night inside Milan Central Station  watching people come and go in a frenzy of hurry, love, kisses, luggage and goodbyes

66. A bike ride by night, with no destination

67. An Olimpia Milano basketball game

68. Dinner with a show at Balera dell’Ortica, an old-school dancing spot

69. The Santa Maria Rossa Abbey in the outskirts of Crescenzago, almost swallowed by the neighboring houses

70. The moving Pietà Rondanini by Michelangelo, newly relocated inside the Castello Sforzesco

71. Tip your hat to Scior Carera, Mr. Carera, an ancient Roman sculpture underneath the arcades of Corso Vittorio Emanuele

72. The igloo-shaped houses behind the Maggiolina, your local Smurfs village

73. The wonder of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, which now can also be admired through free-to-use binoculars

74. Drink like a local from the public dragon-shaped fountains: cover the hole underneath the pipe so that the water goes back up, straight into your mouth

75. Climb on top of the Branca Tower inside Parco Sempione in a crisp fall morning to see the foliage of Parco Sempione

76. Wake up early on a Saturday to be among the first at the market in viale Papiniano to get the best bargains

77. For the gentlemen: shave your barba e baffi (beard and moustache) at the historical Antica Barbieria Colla

78. For the ladies: visit the equally historical hat maker in Via dei Piatti

79. Visit Baggio, a working-class neighborhood, and stop for lunch in one of the most authentic trattoria in the city, Osteria Alla Grande

80. The little rainbow colored houses of the Quartiere Lincoln, an “ideal city” built in the late 19th century

81. The Finger, artist Maurizio Cattelan’she bird-flipping sculpture, in the middle of Piazza Affari, the Stock Exchange square

82. A field trip to where the city ends and the countryside begins, among the rice fields, cascine and abbeys in the Parco Agricolo Sud Milano

83. The Leonardo-Da-Vinci-designed dam in Via San Marco

84. An impromptu picnic in the lovely Giardini della Guastalla

85. The perfectly preserved Medieval Loggia dei Mercanti

86. If your level of Italian allows it, a stand-up comedy show at Zelig Cabaret in viale Monza

87. The Vigna (vineyard) di Leonardo, a secret garden in the heart of the city

88. Have merenda – a mid-afternoon snack – with pane and salame, bread and salami, at Taglio

89. The Toti submarine at the Museo della Scienza e della Tecnica

90. Skate (just watching is OK as well) in the square in front of Milan’s Central Station

91. Marvel at Via della Spiga’s stunning fashion in both the shop windows and on the street

92. Run around the Idroscalo

93. Treat yourself to a slice of panettone on a winter afternoon, at Pavè for instance

94. Imagine the 19th century Lombardy countryside in the mesmerizing paintings of Segantini at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna

95. Chat with old and new friends at Cantine Isola winebar, always open also in August

96. Get inked. Permanent: get a Pietro Sedda tattoo. Temporary: go see one of his exhibitions.

97. Philosophically reflect on the idea of Kitsch while perusing the Sunday morning flea market in Piazzale Cuoco

98. Check out the Ippodromo del Galoppo – Gallop Hippodrome – in San Siro: on the outside, beautiful murales; on the inside, 30s’ architecture and luscious garden

99. An Indie rock concert at Magnolia

100. A visit to Peck, half salumeria, half gastronomic museum

101. Join us in one of our Sauce Milan food tours!

[Picture credits: Paolo Ferrarini]

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