This it the third of a series of posts which will guide you on a walking tour around less known neighborhoods of Milan, away from the busy center but where real locals go.
The Northern part of Milan is usually neglected by foreign visitors, and the reasons are many: it is too distant from the centre – Milan looks strangely asymmetrical, egg-like, having developed mostly towards north; it is too new; it is too big. All these reasons are true, but you would miss some amazing experiences by skipping this urban quadrant.
You’ll spend a lot of time on metro trains, so start your day with a good breakfast at Red, the cafè of Feltrinelli bookstore located in the beautiful Gae Aulenti Square, just in the middle of a new housing development named Porta Nuova. You will be sorrounded by some of the most daring buildings of Milan, such as award-winner Vertical Forests by Stefano Boeri: two twin tall residential towers hosting hundreds of trees and plants, distributed in relation to the façade’s position towards the sun. On flat land, each Vertical Forest equals, in amount of trees, an area of 7000 square meters of forest.
From Garibaldi metro station take the brand new Purple Line to Ponale, and after a 700-mt walk in a bleak neighborhood you will find yourself at the entrance of Wonderland: Hangar Bicocca. It is the successful result of a large conversion project (located in the hangars of the former Ansaldo-Brera factory, where locomotives and railway carriages were made), and represents one of the main contemporary art hubs in Milan. You’ll be greeted at the entrance by an elegant work by Fausto Melotti, La Sequenza, but you will plunge into sheer ecstasy with The Seven Heavenly Palaces by Anselm Kiefer (some of our guests once said that Kiefer’s work is worth a trip not just to this distant area of Milan, it is “worth a trip to Milan!”).
Get ready for your journey back after a cup of coffee at the museum cafè, then head to the Milanese Chinatown. If it is Tuesday or Saturday, do not miss the reknowned Mercato di via Fauché, a local street market in the top ten of best bargain spots. A shopping mall en plein air, it is rich in food’s stalls but you will also satisfy your hunger for fashion with brand shoes and cashmere wool goods of superlative quality.
Hop on a tram and reach busy Corso Buenos Aires, the longest, most crowded and popular shopping street of Milan, but do not be distracted by H&M or Zara and rather stop at Casa Boschi-Di Stefano, a museum-house hosting an utterly fascinating collection of paintings amassed by Antonio Boschi and Marieda Di Stefano during their lives. Donated to the city of Milan in 1974, it is an impressive overview of the Italian art of the XX century, making this apartment – together with its furniture of the Thirties and everyday objects – a thoroughly unique place.
For dinner, stop at Osteria del Treno, a bistro with elaborate cooking that has been the Milan centre of the Slow Food association since 1989. On Sunday, the Liberty-style dining room becomes a dance floor: so do not forget your tango shoes!