People resemble the places they live in. Places where people live reflect them. It’s not really clear in which of the two directions, or if in both, this process of adaptation takes place, but it is consistently true of every place and in every corner of the world.
Milan and Milanese resemble each other: hurried, snobby, competitive, lustful, but also curious, forward thinking, lovers of beauty, the cosmopolitans of Italy.
To a superficial and contrary evaluation Milan can seem gray, cold and ugly. How many times have we heard this silly thought. But all you have to do is take some time, stop to observe, go beyond the surface, open a heavy and austere door behind which is hidden a stunningly marvelous courtyard, with rich, scented gardens and classic strings of attached homes where you can taste everyday life.
Hidden city is a manifesto of gratitude towards a city that have given many the opportunity of introspection – suffering and losing it at times – to meditate, but above all to grow, to relate, to have fun and to love.
Give her some time and you will fall in love with Milan. Start with these five… my favorites!
“…Not all cul-de-sacs finish in nothing. At the end of the street, through a small gate, you enter one of the most precious and secret corners of the city: the Botanical Garden of Brera. (…) You delve into a magic silence broken only by the songs of little birds and the drip-drop of water fountains. Here and there – in unassuming and unexpected corners – we find benches where we can pause to admire, capture the rays of a springtime sun, read our favorite newspaper or enthralling novel, or lose ourselves in romantic conversation. There is even a small vegetable garden, protected by a sweet scarecrow who seems to have stepped out of a fairytale. (…) The preserved quiet of this place is truly heaven on earth.”
“…This is where Leonardo da Vinci’s vineyard was reborn. We are at corso Magenta 65, where more than 500 years ago Ludovico Il Moro gave Leonardo a vineyard of about 8,000 square meters. Just to give you an idea, it extended from here to Porta Romana. (…) Entering the Atellani building you can almost imagine occasions and events that took place within these walls, in the library and in the dinner hall. This isn’t a museum, it’s a house – still lived in today – and we enter on tiptoe into the lives of its inhabitants. (…) We walk to the edge of the Garden of Delights, savoring every smell and sound, caressing every shade of color and matter. We are lucky to be able to admire the sun as it sets behind us, and we leave feeling lighter, richer. Even more convinced that these coordinates have something magical about them.”
“….The Giardini della Guastalla are just the place for you: if you’re tired of being in the library, if you’ve become neurotic from tribunal hearings, or if you want to go for a walk after visiting a brand new nephew who was born at the Mangiagalli, you will find just what you are looking for here. (…) The garden is adorned with tall stemmed plants of great value, catalogued and cared for by green volunteers. Its beauty is enhanced by a fish bath from the 1700s, with carp and red fish that swim about careless of visitors’ eyes, there are also statues in marble and in terracotta and a series of benches where you can take a break in peace. Nonetheless, there is a play area for children next to which great games of bocce are disputed. Just talking about it we get the urge to challenge one of the peppy gentlemen: who would no doubt give us a run for our money!”
“…Ask a romantic what a dream house in Milan is like. (…) You’ll be told Milan watercolors. Yes, you’ll be told that the house of a lifetime is a small, two story villa with pastel colored walls and little balconies and windows with wooden shutters – kissed by the sun from dawn ’til dusk – surrounded by a small garden, protected by a green and white ivy covered gate where little sparrows chirp at dawn’s first light. This isn’t just a dream house, it actually exists in real life, at the coordinates of Via Lincoln and Via Franklin. (…) Ten civic numbers scattered in a metropolitan handkerchief on a road that should be enjoyed by foot, to be teletransported to another dimension that is nothing short of Notthing Hill. Each one different from the other, from the color to the personal touches. Observing these small windows you can almost imagine the life that they conceal.”
“…And, just like Alice in Wonderland, we peek behind the majestic Villa Invernizzi’s fance and stare with our mouths wide-open at the spectacle: a garden with a group of beautiful pink flamingos. They stroll blissfully, taking pleasure in their stride, they flap, they start skirmishes with their beaks, or they sleep, contentedly, balanced on one leg. They are like a mirage that leaves us astonished as we observe them, feeling like first-time birdwatchers. (…) A dozen of these rare birds, all born in captivity from ancestors imported from Chile and Africa, live here. They live a long time. Some of them have reached 25 years of age.”