The Made in Italy Latin District
Once I got lost. Whilst walking towards the Cadorna train station I took a different route to what I would usually do and found myself in the midst of buildings and avenues I could not associate with. Had I made a mistake, or was it fate?
Milan is a city shrouded in chaos and disarray and cannot be compared to the elegance of Florence or the majestic history of Rome. But calling Milan an average destination would be completely false – Milan is a city with imposing but hidden charm, full of cultural and historical gems tucked away within the heart of its streets.
Amongst these gems, Brera district remains one of the stalwarts, the trump card which outweighs all competition.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
That Autumn day I found myself in Via Ponte Vetero, after just having left behind Foro Buonaparte and the majestic Sforzesco Castle. It was at that precise moment, where I had found myself many times before, that I discovered a priceless ruby – Brera. This is the name of the small street which spans through the same-named district.
The street is renowned to both locals and tourists and the district hosts many shops and restaurants, as well as the most important museum in all of Milan – the Pinacoteca di Brera, where thousands of aficionados gather on a daily basis to admire its splendor and its treasures.
The museum was founded by Milan’s Austrian occupiers and portrays works of art of some of the greatest artists during the Italian Renaissance, including The Marriage of the Virgin by Raffaello, Our Lady with Child by Giovanni Bellini, The Crucifixion by Bramantino.
Moreover, you can also find other famous international artists – not be missed are the 5 paintings of Rubens, Joardens, Van Dyck and Rembrandt, which were all acquired to represent the Flemish school of the 17th Century.
The hidden beauty of the Botanical Garden
At the rear of the Pinacoteca, another pearl offers a pause for reflection – the Botanical Garden, which has been managed by the University of Milan since 1774, offers solace, under the sprawling grandeur of a lime tree spanning 40 meters – before resuming your journey.
The beauty of this garden reflects throughout its pleasant and relaxing surroundings, seeped in colour and scents together with its unique collection of botanical plants.
Whilst strolling through the narrow pathways your eyes gaze upon the imposing trees or the odd shapes of leaves and fruit. The vast collections include Spring bulbs, with hyacinths, daffodils and tulips taking bloom with the first signs of Spring and also well-renowned medicinal plants.
Brera is also the beautiful Church of San Marco
Your eyes will remain affixed to the many places along the avenues of Brera, including the magnificent Cusani and Citterio buildings, or the Church of San Marco. These cultural prides are nestled within one of the most picturesque corners of Brera.
Close to the Lanza subway (MM2 highway, green line) the Church is a living monument to Milan’s history – the young Mozart lived here for 3 months and in 1874 Giuseppe Verdi conducted his “Requiem Mass” in memory of Alessandro Manzoni.
Inside the Church, splendid frescoes adorn the ceilings and walls, including The Pentecost by Carlo Urbino, which graces the ceiling of the Chapel of San Giuseppe, The Passion of Christ, which enlightens the Pieta’ Chapel with oil paintings which completely cover the side walls.
Time for a happy hour?
Around 6 pm the streets of Brera come alive and the area soon transforms itself into ‘our’ Latin-American District – many bars, restaurants, art galleries and antique shops, where artists, students and many other people meet up to chill and relax.
Balustrade houses on the background, Brera provides the perfect refuge, amidst the china shops and the vintage wine bars, to enjoy a spritz – typical drink from Veneto region – gossip with girlfriends about the latest skirmishes with partners or just share your desires.
Don’t forget to visit the popular N’Ombra de Vin, in Via San Marco for an aperitif or post-dinner drink.
Towards the center of Brera you will find Via Fiori Chiari, the vibrant, pulsing heart of the district. In this pedestrian paradise you will encounter many small bars and restaurants and there is no turning back once you get your taste buds onto the seductive aperitif. Or how about surrendering to the urge of various snacks accompanied by a glass of wine?