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Modernity and tradition mix in sumptuous city
By Patsy Yang

Milan Expo 2015 is an excellent reason to explore Italy’s second-largest city, which is famous for fashion, music, design and cuisine.

There is so much to see and do, to taste and experience that a visitor should plan a careful itinerary so that each choice can be enjoyed to the fullest.

Let’s look at some the highlights for a three-day visit. 


Historic landmarks

No trip to Milan is complete without a visit to the world-renowned Duomo. This Gothic cathedral, dedicated to St Mary of the Nativity, is the largest in Italy and the fifth-largest in the world. It took nearly six centuries to complete.

Underscoring the cathedral’s central role in the city’s history, the structure is the spoke of a system of radiating streets.

The plan of the cathedral comprises a nave with four side aisles, crossed by a transept. The roof is open to tourists, allowing a spectacular view of both the structure and the city.

During the six-month Expo, a special tour for visitors is on offer, and the opening time has been extending to 9am-11pm. Facing the Duomo Piazza is the Milan Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which connects the Duomo and La Scala opera house, the city’s two famous landmarks.

The galleria, named after the first ruler of the Kingdom of Italy, is a land- mark in its own right. It is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, celebrat- ing its 150th anniversary this year.

It contains luxury retailers, book and art stores, and restaurants and cafes. Some of these venues are among the oldest in the city.

Locals believe if a person spins around three times with a heel on the testicles of the bull from the Turin Coat of Arms there, it will bring good luck.

Not far from the Duomo is the Cas- tello Sforzesco, built in the 15th century by the duke of Milan.

The castle, once a fortress, today houses some of the city’s best museums and art collections.

And speaking of high art, Leonardo da Vinci’s famous “Last Supper’’ can be admired on the walls of the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

It covers an end of the dining hall at the monastery. The last major restora- tion of this fragile painting took 21 years and was finished in 1999. Visitors have to book ahead to view it and can only stay in the room for 15 minutes. 


Exploring the modern look of Milan

The redevelopment of Navigli, the city’s most picturesque district, was completed in time for Expo. Pedestrian paths, greenery and markets in the Darsena area link the Naviglio Grande and the Villoresi canals.

The area provides a chance to dis- cover a new concept in “urban living” and is an excellent venue for an evening stroll alongside the bustling Naviglio Grande and its outdoor cafes.

Don’t miss Piazza Gae Aulenti, one of the most modern new squares in the city. It is highlighted by an ornamental water feature that is lit at night. Among the buildings surrounding the piazza is Italy’s tallest skyscraper, the Torre UniCredit. Near the tower is an artistic exhibit called “Panorama.” It features
a 15-minute video showing the scenic sites, artistic gems and commercial highlights of Italy.
Also not to be missed is Isola, near the skyscrapers of Porta Nuova. This one-time blue-collar area is being transformed into a “place to be seen” in Milan, with its brasseries, cafes and iconic shops.

On the edge of Isola is the Bosco Verti- cale, a pair of residential towers cited as among the five most beautiful, innovative skyscrapers in the world by the Interna- tional High-Rise Award of 2014.

The site is an example of nature in an urban setting. Each tower houses trees of up to six meters in height that help mitigate smog and produce oxygen. The almost 1,000 trees will help moderate temperatures in the buildings. 


Art and exhibitions

Fondazione Prada, occupying a for- mer distillery, is an institution dedicated to contemporary art and culture. The foundation is co-chaired by Miuccia Prada, a member of the famed luxury- goods family, and her husband Patrizio Bertelli. The foundation has combined preexisting buildings with three new structures. Selections of artworks from the Prada Collection are presented in a series of thematic exhibitions.

The current Serial Classic exhibition running through August 24 focuses
on classical sculpture and explores the ambivalent relationships between origi- nality and imitation in Roman culture.

The Museo del Novecento on the Piazza del Duomo is the place to see famous works from the cubist school, the Arte Povera movement and Italy’s futurist artists. The museum holds one the nation’s largest collections of 20th century art.

La Tiennale di Milano, a design and art museum, is currently hosting an exhibition inspired by the Expo theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” The exhibition, “Arts and Foods,” focuses on the aesthetics of eating ritu- als dating back to 1851 when the first World Expo was held in London. 

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Food and drink in Milan

The Milanese love their aperitivo pre-dinner drinks meant to whet the appetite and socialize with friends.

There is no end of places to go for aperitivo. One is the Bar Luce inside Fondazione Prada. It was designed by film director Wes Anderson in the style of a typical Milanese café.

Ceresio 7 on the penthouse floor of Dsquared2’s headquarters on Via Ceresio is another popular drinking stop. Here you can watch the fashionis- tas of Milan while enjoying apertivo on a pool terrace. For a change of pace, try Un Posto a Milano bistro at the Cascina Cuccagna, a refurbished 17th century “urban farm” near Porta Romana. Stay for dinner. All the food served here comes from local, seasonal sources.

For the more hip, Deus ex Machina Store and Café on Via Thaon di Revel in the Isola neighborhood is a cool place to hang out for a drink and even dinner. For a similar vibe, Lacerba on Via Orti is one of the hotspots for Milanese young people who like to socialize away from tourist crowds. 

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