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Milano from the top

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If the skylines of the great American cities are recognised everywhere, the panoramas of Italian cities could do with being reappraised. Milans profile is a prime example: seen from above, it combines the old and the new. It is well worth going to a high spot on a clear and windy day to admire the expanse of buildings, alternated with various patches of greenery, which stretches as far as the eye can see. It is an effective way of understanding the central position of Milan within the Pianura Padana (Po Valley), partly because, given clear weather, you will be able to see the circle of the Prealps and the Alps that surrounds the city. Thus the plan of the centre of Milan will be even clearer, with its main streets that spread out like rays from the centre towards the outskirts. With this guide even those least experienced will immediately be able to recognise certain buildings with their characteristic outlines. These are shared out fairly between what we could call the sacred and the profane: bell towers alternate perfectly with buildings made for people to work and live in. The height of the Pirelli Skyscraper may yet be unrivalled, but the bell towers of San Lorenzo, San Marco and SantEustorgio, the latter standing out from the rest for its wrought-iron comet, appear equally beautiful. From different vantage points in the city, outskirts included, you can see the Velasca Tower, which is easily recognisable for its unusual mushroom shape and is not far from the flat-roofed skyscraper of the Terrazza Martini. You wont have trouble recognising the two bell towers flanking the gable shape of the Basilica of SantAmbrogio, nor the sweep of the vast green area surrounding the Sforza Castle with the Filarete Tower. Equally large, to the North, is the area of level ground surrounding the imposing white structure of the Central Station. Disparaged when seen from below, it is equally praised when seen from above, pleasingly decorated as it is with its web of rail tracks and its long glass roofs. The redevelopment project of the Fiera di Milano area will contribute to considerably changing the profile of the city. The construction of three new skyscrapers with imaginative profiles will upstage the Pirelli Skyscraper. The Milanese, with their proverbial propensity for nicknaming everything, have already dubbed them il Gobbo, il Diritto e lo Storto (the hunchback, the straight-back and the crooked-back). But what does Milan look like by night? There is no lack of lighting, though it is relatively modest compared to more touristy cities. At certain times of the year, from Parco Sempione you can admire wonderful firework displays, while the fountain in front of the entrance spurts water and light. The nearby RAI transmitter soars like a secular symbol of protection, lit up by neon lights that change colour and intensity. If you have the chance to look out of a high building you may be surprised to discover the romantic side of the Milanese, who trust in their brightly illuminated Madonnina, as she stands atop a black marble pinnacle surrounded by the black of night.

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Milano from the top Tourism Office, via Dogana, 2
20123 Milan, Italy

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+ 39 0288464454

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