You will never come to know your city properly, unless you walk or bike through it.
I have been living in Milan for 10 years, so far. My knowledge of its innermost, secret beauty is far from completed. In my freshman year at Bocconi University, 10 years ago, I discovered the city mainly by chance. I just walked down the streets, keeping open to surprises, feeling like a tourist, where everything drawned my attention.
Milan proved to be an enormous maze of streets, private roads, secret corners, all eligible for a silent and restful retreat from the maddening crowd. I felt relieved when I left the alleys to enjoy, almost alone, the secret beauty of its center.
Milan historical part is small and revolves around Duomo, Castello Sforzesco, Pinacoteca di Brera and Sant’Ambrogio Basilica. Milan city centre, in particular, extends from Duomo and La Scala to Pinacoteca di Brera. It is a sort of “triangle” that from Via Verdi, connecting Piazza La Scala to Pinacoteca di Brera, heads to Castello Sforzesco and then goes back to Duomo, through via Dante.
By taking Via Verdi from La Scala, heading to Pinacoteca di Brera, you will cross Via dell’Orso which, onward, changes its name in Via Monte di Pietà. By turning left and walking one hundred meters, you will find, on the right side, the entrance of a smaller street, paved with cobblestones. Try to look up at the name. Make sure it is via Ciovasso.
Once you are walking down this lovely and picturesque street, try to wonder about living there. How does it feel like? There are beautiful and historical buildings flanking the street from both sides.
Via Ciovasso is a very short street, soon merging into a bigger one. On your left-hand, you will find a grocery shop and a small art gallery, followed by a Chinese restaurant. On the right-end, you will find the big shopping windows of Il Consolato restaurant, featuring a nice veranda and some traditional, milanese dishes.
Few meters away, approaching via Ciovasso end, you will find on your right the Japanese Art Association (Associazione Culturale Arte Giappone), which hosts a permanent exhibition of japanese art and a good deal of temporary exibitions. This is one of the most secret venues for art in Milan.
On your left, you will find open doorways to the most beautiful Milanese “case di ringhiera”, which feature a great number of beautiful courtyards with plants, gardens, flowers and folklore.
I bet you are wondering if there could be a causal connection between the place you live in and the way you enjoy the city. This part of Milan, especially via Ciovasso and its “twin sister”, via Ciovassino, is the one that I love the most.
I am quite convinced that there is something in this beautiful street that makes it so charming, so picturesque and so irresistible. If you happen to pass by, please visit this secret side of Milan! I hope you will enjoy it!