Italy’s financial center and fashion capital, Milan, was the hub of my recent trip to Italy. It is a fascinating and stylish mix of old world charm and modern design. Although my stay there was mostly work related (no I don’t work in finance or fashion, but they also host one of the top ranked European business schools), I will share a few experiences and observations I made while crisscrossing the city.
A pleasant surprise, a treat actually, came on my second day in Milan. A memorable dinner at Castello Visconteo. This castle, built in the 14th century, is just over an hour’s drive from Milan. Incredibly charming and a bit mysterious when you arrive at night.
I couldn’t get enough of the beautiful decorations, still partly preserved on the walls and ceilings.
And the 5-course candlelit dinner was delicious, traditional dishes from Lombardy accompanied by Tuscan wines.
I couldn’t take too many pictures at the table, but had to sneak a shot of this perfect Italian version of Crème Brule.
Once my work was done and I had some time to look around, I realized Milan was quite a green city. And I don’t mean the parks. I noticed that people had surrounded themselves with greenery right where they lived. Rooftop gardens, terraces and balconies with green plants were everywhere. I started snapping pictures of a them as I passed different buildings in the city center. Here’s a small sample.
The most amazing green buildings I encountered, however, were the two towers of Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) opened in 2014. Together, these two residential high-rise buildings host over 100 apartments and 20,000 plants, among them about 900 trees. I could only get a picture of one of them, but you’ll get the idea.
These trees, shrubs and other plants fight air pollution. They can transform approximately 44,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into oxygen each year. Quite amazing, isn’t it? Needless to say, I was impressed by these green marvels, designed by the Italian architect Stefano Boeri and a large team of specialists.
Milan’s financial power and famous design were evident in the many modern glass towers reaching up towards the sky in the city center.
From looking up, I went to looking down. The traffic scene on any street always included scooters. In fact, one could see long lines of them for rental at some street corners.
And I noticed the many innovative parking practices. Here just one example.
From looking down, I went to looking through…the shop windows at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the worlds oldest shopping mall.
Its construction started in 1865, but there was nothing old-fashioned about it. This mall housed shops of the famous designers of our time.
I went window shopping and saw whimsical fashion creations…some more suitable for the cat walk than my walk-in closet. Or my wallet.
And I saw winter gear in muted colors. More my style, with Florida length cropped pants and all, but my wallet still didn’t agree.
Some shops offered boots too…
…and I passed many windows exhibiting exuberant, colorful bags. The price tags were discretely tucked under the bags, and I guess for the typical customer the price didn’t really matter. I have never been a bag lady, but they were nice to look at.
After seeing this pom-pom-fitted head-gear, I gave up. I would not leave with any of those fancy shopping bags with a world-famous designer’s name on it. So I walked out. And was faced with a wall of faces.
A modern touch on old walls right next to Piazza del Duomo, which is the main city square in Milan. I walked closer and saw the Duomo, Milan cathedral, in all its beauty.
Lots of people and pigeons outside, but the inside was very peaceful. I spent some time there in silent contemplation. And lit candles for each of the two men I lost recently.
When I came out I was greeted by a street musician and the many pigeons calling this square home.
I noticed the lion was yawning…and took it as a sign it was time to catch a bus back to my hotel.
Thank you for joining me on this mini-tour. The always scary-looking beast, Mr. D., and I wish you all a wonderful Halloween week.