Milano is far from a grey city - as someone still says. This stance, common until the 1980s, describes the booming economy of the post-war decades. The city became bigger and bigger, in order to build more factories and warehouses and provide for more people and workers from other areas of the country. Over time, a growing awareness of the importance of green areas has allowed for the rediscovery of Milano’s traditional green spots and – especially in recent years – for the addition of many new ones that both help purify the air we breathe every day and make the city more attractive.
Overcast days are less frequent than they used to be during the winter, and summer and mid-season skies tend to be increasingly blue. Sunday mornings or one’s own free time can now happily be spent in Milano. Right near the new Porta Nuova towers, one of the symbols of the new city, green areas that are ideal for morning running can be found. And you might easily lose yourself among the little lakes of Parco Sempione, or the 640 hectares of Parco Nord.
Flat Milano also vaunts a diminutive peak of its own, Monte Stella, commonly referred to as “San Siro’s Mound”.
If you experience the city in-depth, you will discover a number of small elegant parks that offer the visitor the chance of a green break. Let us discover them together.
At the gates of Milano’s rainbow neighborhood of Porta Venezia, you will find the 18th-century Palestro Gardens, a convenient green hangout for the young and the busy in Milano, which also hosts the Orticola gardening fair in the spring. You can do your lunch break here, take a breath of fresh air or spend a quiet moment reading under the trees. There’s also a natural history museum and a planetarium!
This historical garden is right at the centre of Milano. Possibly, no green areas in the city are as beautiful as this one, thanks to its hallowed horse chestnuts, its beeches and its silver maples. It is located right behind the Milano’s State University complex, not far from the Hall of Justice. The garden typically hosts a lot of students and many young lawyers at lunchtime, as it provides peace and quiet just a short walk from the Duomo.
It was built thanks to Countess Ludovica Guastalla, who used it at first for private parties, and later as a nuns monastery. In 1939, it was acquired by the Milano City Hall that turned it into a free public garden. A real attraction is the Baroque style fish pond placed at the heart of the park.
The Guastalla Gardens are open every day from 7 AM. Closing time depends on the season.
Pope John Paul II Park
It is known as “Park of the Basilicas” because it connects the two ancient churches of St. Eustorgio (where legend has it the relics of the Three Wise Men were treasured) and St. Lawrence, with its amazing Paleo-Christian mosaics.
It houses quite a few treats for history and art lovers: the ancient apses of the two Basilicas, the artworks in the Museo Diocesano, and the Baroque statue of St. Lazarus, which goes almost unnoticed, yet stands right in the place of an ancient gallows, where wrongdoers were sacrificed.
The park is divided in two by via Molino delle Armi, a busy thoroughfare forming part of Milano’s inner ring road.
The slice of Park at the back of the Church of St. Eustorgio is delimited by a rose garden that must be seen in the right season, when the fragrance of the roses is in the air. Just before the 2015 Expo, the park was dedicated to Pope John Paul II.
Don Giussani Park
This green area is attended by sports enthusiasts. On early Sundays mornings, the sunbeams gently touch the heart of the park and the doors of the Solari Swimming Pool (an architectural jewel from the 1960s).
It is a well-known location for sports in Milano, recently renovated and always open (August included). Every summer deckchairs and umbrellas are brought out, creating an oasis of rest. A ticket is needed to enter the pool and the Solarium, but it is possible to enjoy the same atmosphere for free by simply just lying down on the fresh grass of the park.
Jogging lovers will enjoy running along the crisscrossing little paths of this special green area, providing welcome solace right close to the busy via Solari, via Montevideo, via Foppa and via Coni Zugna.
This luscious art nouveau park is located in the center of Milano along the Castello Sforzesco - Arco della Pace axis. Built in the early 1900s, the Sempione Park contains gems of modern architecture, like Palazzo dell’Arte by Giovanni Muzio which hosts the Triennale, and nearby Torre Branca by Gio Ponti, which has an observation deck. The park also hosts the Civic Aquarium, a liberty-era edifice decorated with sea and fish motifs, originally built for the International Fair of 1906 and renovated a century later, and the Civic Arena, the temple of track and field sports in Milano. Sempione also has the city’s most competitive basketball playground. Hidden in the heart of the park is the Parco Sempione Municipal Library, popular with high school and university students. Come to jog, study or play ball in the park!
Villa Litta Park
Here, grass is fresh and well looked after. Affori, while not part of the city centre, is nevertheless a popular suburb. Villa Litta Park is one of the district’s most visited spots and it goes all around the famous aristocratic Villa that in the nineteenth century became one of the most popular centres of literature and culture.
Walking across the park allows visitors to pass by the same trees - maples, poplars, mulberries and horse chestnuts - that shaded Alessandro Manzoni and Francesco Hayez during their open-air chats.
The park is provided with a large playground for children, one football field and two basketball courts, plus a 9600 sq. m. area where dogs can romp freely.
Villa Scheibler Park
What is now the park area was once one of the city’s most beautiful spots - rich in woods and water, where Ludovico il Moro organized hunting parties. Today, this huge green expanse is the ideal setting for long walks.
Bordered by via Lessona, via Anderloni, via Otranto, via Orsini and via Invernizio, it is suitable for children’s play, being equipped with two play zones with slides and swings. But there are attractions for grown-ups as well: the charming flower square, the fountain in front of Villa Scheibler and the arch at the heart of the park which creates a perspective with the adjacent buildings. Recent refurbishments were instrumental in revitalizing the entire suburban area.