Milan is much more than the Duomo, the Castello Sforzesco, and other popular tourist attractions. The capital of the Lombardy region has a hidden beauty that only the most curious travelers get to discover. If you want to enjoy this chic Italian city like a real Milanese follow this guide to unveil its best hidden gems.
The great polymath Leonardo Da Vinci received a charming vineyard as a gift from the Duke of Milan Ludovico Sforza. Records state that while painting the Last Supper, the Italian artist would go to the small vineyard across the road where he would take a break from his busy life to enjoy a glass of good wine. After being badly damaged in the Second World War, Leonardo’s vineyard was renovated and is now open to visitors.
The current owners performed a DNA test to find out the exact types of wine grapes that Leonardo had planted in his vineyard and replanted them to offer a truly authentic experience to the future visitors. If you are a wine lover, visit the vineyard on Saturday afternoons when you can enjoy a typical Milanese aperitivo of wines and nibbles.
Basilica di Santo Stefano Maggiore
Situated in the heart of the Verziere, this ancient church is among the oldest buildings in Milan. The Basilica di Santo Stefano Maggiore was built in the 5th century and destroyed in a fire in 1070. Somewhere between the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the church was rebuilt in the Romanesque style.
Further restorations followed up in 1642 after the collapse of the bell tower, as well as between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Despite the multiple changes in its appearance, the current building is not in a perfect state as it’s over a thousand years old and requires further restorations. Unlike other churches, chapels and monasteries that have been transformed into museums, the Basilica di Santo Stefano Maggiore stays faithful to its initial role.
RM Istituto Moda e Design
Whether you are looking to move ahead in your career or want to enjoy the charm of Milan’s unconventional corners, head over to RM Instituto Moda e Design. The faculty is almost always open, even in the late hours – feel free to visit until midnight. Offering a high-profile learning
experience through multiple courses held by established individuals in their respective industries, RM Instituto Moda e Design connects fresh creative minds with the business world.
For instance, their new master in photography features ten top-level international photography experts who interact with the students, along with the course leader, journalist Alessandra Mauro. These great masters are teaching the students the best-kept secrets in the world of photography, in addition to offering tips for finding professional placement in various areas in this creative and highly-competitive industry.
Brera Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico di Brera)
The Brera Botanical Garden in Milan is the place to go when you want to escape the tourist crowds in Milan. Located behind Palazzo Brera at Via Brera 28 in the center of Milan, this garden gives you a chance to relax and unplug in the middle of the city hassle. This hidden gem spreads on 5000 square meters, offering an impressive view filled with blooming flowers and lush greenery. The gardens are open from Monday to Saturday and are perfect for a relaxed stroll with friends.
Cimitero Monumentale is a graveyard that dates back to the mid-19th-century with plenty of artistic monuments and tombs that will make your heart skip a beat. Among the shrines and sculptures in the cemetery, you can see true works of art by great Italian artists such as Arnaldo Pomodoro, Giò Ponti, Lucio Fontana, Antonio Canova, Mario Palanti and Gae Aulenti. There is everything from a replica to Da Vinci’s Last Supper to depictions of Greek temples.
As you can see, Milan is full of unusual places relatively unknown by the mainstream world that offer authentic experience and a relaxing atmosphere. If you are not the touristy type who enjoys exploring off the map, this dynamic Italian city has quite an impressive selection of secret havens waiting to be explored.
Jennifer Hahn Masterson is a travel writing nomad with an eye for beauty. She is currently living in Milan and preparing to enroll at this new master course in photography.