The Many Faces of Milan.

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.

Milano Centrale statues MilanA 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.

castello Visconteo at night Milan

coutyard of Castello Visconteo MilanI couldn’t get enough of the beautiful decorations, still partly preserved on the walls and ceilings.

a room at Castello Visconteo Milan

the ceiling of the hall in Castello Visconteo MilanAnd the 5-course candlelit dinner was delicious, traditional dishes from Lombardy accompanied by Tuscan wines.

my dinner table at Castello Visconteo MilanI couldn’t take too many pictures at the table, but had to sneak a shot of this perfect Italian version of Crème Brule.

creme brule at Castrello Visconteo MilanOnce 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.

Roof garden Milan_edited-2

another building with trees Milan_edited-1

another roof garden Milan_edited-2

balconies in Milan_edited-1


green balcony Milan

Another roof garden in MilanThe 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.

Bosco Verticale Vertical Forest in Milan_edited-1These 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.

glass building Milan

modern skyscraper Milan

skyscraper MilanFrom 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.

scooter lady MilanAnd I noticed the many innovative parking practices. Here just one example.

smart parking ItalyFrom looking down, I went to looking through…the shop windows at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the worlds oldest shopping mall.

vittorio emanuele II MilanIts construction started in 1865, but there was nothing old-fashioned about it. This mall housed shops of the famous designers of our time.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II MilanI went window shopping and saw whimsical fashion creations…some more suitable for the cat walk than my walk-in closet. Or my wallet.

prada fashions Milan

fashion 3 Milan_edited-1And I saw winter gear in muted colors. More my style, with Florida length cropped pants and all, but my wallet still didn’t agree.

fashion 2 Milan_edited-1

winter fashion MIlan edited-1

fashion 1 in Milan_edited-1Some shops offered boots too…

boots Milan_edited-1…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.

Prada bag Milan

bags 3 Milan_edited-1

Armani bags Milan_edited-1

bags Milan

head gear in the window Milan_edited-2After 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.

Faces of MIlan_edited-1A 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.

Duomo Milan_edited-1

detail of Duomo MIlan

main entrance of the Duomo MilanLots 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.

detail 2 of Duomo MIlanWhen I came out I was greeted by a street musician and the many pigeons calling this square home.

Street musician MIlan

lion and pigeons at piazza del duomo MilanI noticed the lion was yawning…and took it as a sign it was time to catch a bus back to my hotel.

sightseeing bus MilanThank you for joining me on this mini-tour.  The always scary-looking beast, Mr. D., and I wish you all a wonderful Halloween week.

halloween Dylan 2017_edited-2


79 thoughts on “The Many Faces of Milan.”

  1. You know Dylan can’t really be scary Helen. He still looks cute in blue!
    I love how you have captured Milan. It’s cutting edge, yet still rooted in a meaningful past. I remember thinking … how do all the models walk on these pavements and cobble streets in high heels? I guess that’s why they came up with designer sneakers 😉
    Enjoy being back in the US and having time with mr D.

    1. Dylan is a bit disappointed that his scary face didn’t do the trick, but I tend to agree with you, Val. I learned how difficult it was to walk on the cobble stone in high heels…I made an exception for the “gala dinner” and had to tip toe into the castle. I agree with you, Milan has old roots but is well up there in the modern world as well. A balance that I liked.

    1. Thanks Nancy. Happy Halloween to you and BFF as well. I think D. needs to improve his look for tomorrow, not many have been really scared…

    1. Dylan will be very happy hearing that! He’s asking if Sam will look scary tomorrow 🐶 Glad you came along for the tour, my friend.

    1. I loved the greenery, and in particular the Vertical Forest towers. Apparently some US Mayors had visited recently ans wowed to bring something like this to US. The window shopping experience was fun…and light on the wallet 🙂 Thanks Amy! Ps. I enjoy reading about your Japan trip!

  2. Excellent tour Tiny! Your photos are very telling and well composed. Seems to me that you’re enjoying this. Love, 🙂

    1. Yes, I was enjoying my long trip, some days were a bit sad, but overall it was a great experience and helped me to gain some new perspectives. Thank you, my friend 🙂

    1. Oh, I think Dylan knows he has to do better to be scary 🙂 Thank you for joining this little exploration of Milan…a fascinating city in so many ways.

    1. I loved the architecture as well, the old and the new. The Vertical Forest towers were amazing indeed…utilizing nature’s own best way to clean the air. Mr. D. will be happy to hear he succeeded in his effort to frighten 🙂

  3. Beautiful showcase of Milan Tiny, thanks for sharing, as I am not sure I will get there to see it. The greenery in the city is amazing especially that one building which seemed to be a growing organism. So lovely that you are enjoying this time away, praying you are not feeling to alone, as memories come back, and remember the One who is quoted as saying He is ‘closer than a brother’. Enjoy your tour!

    1. Thank you, my friend, for coming along on this small tour of Milan. I am now back home, digging in my ‘virtual suitcase’ for experiences on this longish trip…still some ways to go before I reach the bottom and have relived all my memories from this trip. I hope your week is wonderful and you get to do lots of spring birding.

  4. Love your tour of modern Milan! How amazing is the design by Stephano Boeri! That is a clever innovation and is needed in every city. I feel a new energy in you as I read about your travels Helen, perhaps you are exploring and expanding your inner world too! . Much love 💕💚

    1. The Vertical Forest was amazing indeed! Apparently some Mayors from the US visited Milan recently and promised to bring such green buildings also to their cities. yes, I feel more energized after my trip…lots going on internally and externally. Thank you, my friend ❤

    1. The Vertical Forest towers were amazing…and how the residents had planted trees and plants on their buildings was impressive. Thank you for coming along, Gallivanta.

  5. Thank you for bringing me along to Milan. I’ve been to Naples and I fell in love with the countryside and coastline outside of Naples. One day I would love to return to Italy. Your photographs are just drank up, Helen. I hope your Heart is mending. (((HUGS))) Amy 💞

    1. Thank you, dear Amy. Naples and Terracina are the two places along the coast, where I also fell in love with Italy many years ago. I hope you can go back one day as there is so much to enjoy in this beautiful country. Many hugs and Happy Halloween to you my friend ❤

      1. I hope to return as well. I’ve really been thinking lately to learn Italian. The problem with that though, is that everywhere you go in Italy there is another dialect of Italian being spoken leaving one confused. 🙂 Many hugs in return to you, Helen! 💝

  6. I so much enjoyed the tour around the city of Milan with you,dear Tiny!You have incredibly showcased all the remarkable landmarks of the city through your superb photographic work!I wrote two posts in 2012 and shared my travel experiences there,but my photos are not that magnificent.Did you like the floor mosaics in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II,such as:the Bull from Turin Coat of Arms and the She-wolf,Lupa,suckling the twins Romulus and Remus?Loved them,but I didn’t spin on the Bull,I didn’t do the twirl on it …,it’s embarrassing If you know the tradition …
    And,your Halloween image is such fun.Enjoy the day,my friend,and many thanks for this brilliant Milan post 🙂 xxx

    1. Thank you for revisiting Milan with me, dear Doda. I will try to find your post from 2012 later today. Yes, I enjoyed the wonderful floor mosaics, but could not get any pictures of them due to the crowds (I visited on a Saturday afternoon) so I focused my picture efforts on window shopping – and even that was difficult 🙂 Yes, today is the Halloween…so much fun for the kids here, including my grandies. Happy rest of the week to you, my friend.

      1. I did enjoy walking with you around the city again,and I was stunned by your architectural images dear friend Tiny 🙂 So glad to hear you had a bit of fun last night.Enjoy a peaceful day xxx

  7. Tiny, your post about Milan is just up there, superb. Every picture makes me love the town more and more. It is beautiful and you know how to show it off and your commentary helps us along.

    Now, even the food pics make me want to go there and the roof gardens and balconies……all so lovingly created.
    Thank you

    1. I am glad you came along on this small tour of Milan, Miriam. Just scratching the surface of this wonderful city…so much more to see. I, too, loved all the green spaces people had created for themselves around their residences…and the Vertical Forest was amazing.

  8. The Italian part of my heart loved seeing these images.And I’m loving all of the new greenery that’s being added! Italian architecture and fashion…my heart is full, even without a full pocket. 😉 By the way, I used to live on Via Vittorio Emanuele II, but it was in Florence. Wonderful times in Italy. Thanks for tapping into the memories!

    1. Oh, you lived there!! A great country where I would feel at home too…although my Italian is very rusty now. Window shopping was fun…and I really liked both the old and the new architecture there. I am glad the post brought back some memories.

  9. Oh Helen, it’s Halloween morning here in Oz; Dylan’s very scary image (haha) has reminded me I’ll be needy some treats for the neighbourhood little ones! 🙂
    A wonderful walk with you. Even though you are walking alone, at present, so many of us are benefitting. Your narration, the images, and your stalwart courage are amazing to witness.
    I can remember feeling quite similarly to you when I visited Paris. I loved seeing the fashions, but, my wallet did not. Even so it is wonderful to look.
    Say hi to Dylan, the most scary/cutest Halloween monster ever! 🙂

    1. I hope your Halloween was good with the little ones knocking on your door in their costumes. Dylan tries his best to be scary, but I don’t think he has much success. The little ones want to pet him 🙂 Boo. I am so glad you enjoyed the walk and dubble-decker ride in Milan. I am still digging deeper in my memory luggage to unpack all of this trip…but it’s getting tougher.

  10. Wow, I love those green buildings — wish we had more of them in the United States, they’re gorgeous and useful too!

  11. Your recent posts and photos on your trip tours have been astounding, Helen! I know there were bittersweet moments, but your strength and courage to forge on in you new normal is beautiful. Best wishes for a wonderful week. ❤

    1. Thank you so much, my friend, for your kind words and encouragement ❤ This trip helped me somewhat to get in terms with my situation.

  12. Would love to visit Italy someday but with posts like this who needs to travel there? How exciting it was to view your wonderful photos and read your great text on the vintage buildings blended with new fashion.
    have a fabulous week dear friend

    1. Thank you, dear Eddie. Italy is truly worth a visit…and so easy to get around on the high-speed trains. Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

  13. Tiny – I sat there for a long moment looking at that all apartment building with all the plants and foliage, thinking it had to fall over at any moment, with all that extra weight pulling it down 🙂 !!

    1. Those two green towards are marvels…the design work was very meticulous, with all kinds of experts participating in the team, in addition to the architect. I hope they will flourish for a long time to come 🙂

  14. Amazing post Helen – the building forest is truly amazing, and I MUST have those boots!!! Good to see you out exploring, hoping your travels are helping you to heal.

  15. What an incredible trip this must have been ~ a look at Milan I’ve never seen before. One thing the Italians seem to do so well is creating a great ambiance at their historical castles in the country, we had dinner in a castle in Bologna that rates as one of the best I’ve had. The one sight, however, I’d love to see and live is the green building you captured, the towers of Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest). Wow ~ wishing you well Helen, and I could see you living in the Penthouse at Bosco Verticale 🙂

  16. I really enjoyed this tour of Milan, Helen, and your presentation of it — looking up and down and through, ranging from the very old to the very modern, celebrating all the elegance and spirit of this fine city.

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