2014 Christmas Markets in Milan

With the holiday season almost here, the time has come to think about exchanging gifts with friends and family and maybe decorating your apartment or dorm room with some festive trimmings.

As a predominately Catholic country, Italy celebrates the several important holidays in December and early January. In Milan, the season official kicks off on 7 December, the Feast of St. Ambrose, the patron saint of the city. That’s immediately followed by a national holiday on 8 December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Then of course Christmas is on the 25th, and the day after, St. Stephen’s Day, is also a holiday. Winter vacation usually ends right after 6 January, which celebrates the Epiphany.

So now that you know more about the calendar, you can understand why Christmas shopping usually revolves around 7-8 December: everyone has some extra time to think about presents and seasonal decorations! Milan may not be as famous for its Christmas markets as some other northern European cities, but the Milanese do enjoy taking part in some annual holiday shopping. Find out more below!

Crowds at holiday marketL’Artigiano in Fiera
This huge event has been hosted in Milan for almost 20 years – it seems to get bigger each year. With over 3,000 stands (!), you really need at least a full day –and a lot of stamina – to see everything. Your best bet is to make a game plan beforehand so you can hit the countries or Italian regions you’re most interested in. And don’t forget to come hungry: this market is also a great place to taste some good food from all over the world.
Open daily from 10am to 10:30pm through 8 December. Take the red line (MM1) to the Rho Fiera stop, but make sure you buy a €2.50 transport ticket since Rho is outside the city limits. Admission is free.

Fiera degli O’Bej O’Bej
This traditional market reportedly dates back to the 13th century. It’s held on and around the city’s saint’s day, 7 December, and lasts about one week. For the past few years, the market is located in Piazza Castello. Crafts and other items are on sale, as well as typical winter foods like chestnuts and sweets.
This year the market will be held from 5 to 8 December. Located at the Cairoli Castello stop on the subway (MM1).

Corsa dei Babbi Natale
On 13 December at 3:30pm, hundreds of people dressed up as Santa Claus will take the streets on a 5km run starting and ending in Piazza Castello. The registration fee is €15, and all participants will receive a Santa hat, bag, a race number and a few coupons from sponsors. The website is in Italian so you might need a native speaker to help you navigate the online registration.

Other Markets
Various other outdoor markets around the city will also start springing up during the weekend of December 7th, and should last until Christmas. Locations include Duomo, Paolo Sarpi, Piazza Gae Aulenti, Affori, Portello, Isola and others!

Milan’s Evolving Skyline

Skyscraper and tram

There’s a cool new exhibit focusing on Milan’s modern architecture and changing cityscape over the past 100 years: Grattanuvole: un secolo di grattacieli a Milano. Instead of using the typical word for skyscrapers, grattacieli, a similar word, grattanuvole, was used for the title. As a bit of a language nerd, I did some research to find out why. More info on the exhibit itself is below, if you’re more into architecture and not the linguistic aspects!

Have you ever thought about what the word skyscraper really means? The two parts of the compound word have nothing to do with the final meaning, but it is a pretty poetic description of what these modern, tall buildings do. And what about the Italian translation? As so often happened when learning a foreign language, I only started thinking about the different elements of the word skyscraper when I learned the Italian equivalent.

The Italian word for skyscraper is a very literal translation of the two parts of the English word: grattacielo. But what does grattanuvole, the title of the architecture exhibit, mean? This word was initially used more often in Italian to refer to modern towers and it was actually even more popular than grattacielo between 1903 and 1911 (for etymology nerds, see the Ngram Viewer chart from Google below). Grattanuvole translates literally as cloudscraper. Which might be appropriate in a city like Milan that is famous for its foggy winter mornings.

Lamp with skyscraper in the backgroundSo how has Milan’s skyline changed over the past century? Like lots of other Italian cities, the city has tended to hold on to traditional architecture and was relatively slow in adopting new styles such as skyscrapers. But with recent projects such as the Porta Nuova area at Piazza Gae Aulenti and CityLife, which is still in the works, Milano is starting to look more like a modern city with more than one skyscraper towering over the horizon.

If you’re interested in learning more about the past, present and future of Milan’s architecture through photos, definitely check out Grattanuvole, un secolo di grattacieli a Milano. The exhibit features photographs of 75 important buildings that have been constructed over the past century. It’s located at Fondazione Riccardo Catella in the Isola neighborhood (near the Gioia subway stop on the green line).

Fondazione Riccardo Catella, in collaboration with Politecnico di Milano
Via G. De Castillia 28
7 November to 6 December 2014
Mondays-Fridays: 10:00am-6:00pm, Saturdays: 10:00am-1:00pm, 2:00-5:00pm
Free admission

Grattacieli and grattanuvole in Italian books from 1800 to 2008
https://books.google.com/ngrams/interactive_chart?content=grattanuvole%2Cgrattacieli&year_start=1900&year_end=2008&corpus=22&smoothing=1&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cgrattanuvole%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Cgrattacieli%3B%2Cc0

What’s Happening in Milano in September 2014

September is a time for new beginnings. Students come back to school classrooms and university lecture halls, workers filter back into town after spending a few weeks at the beach or in the mountains. And the city of Milano comes to life with tons of cool events, from music to film to soccer to fashion. To find out about the biggest fests and happenings, read on!

MiTo logoMITO Music Festival
4-21 September
A yearly event held in both Turin and Milan, this festival brings music to the streets and halls of the city. Mostly focused on classical music, there are also jazz performances and other events like lectures, book presentations and exhibits. A closing dance party is also on the program, set for 21 September, at the Mercedes-Benz Center Milano. Ticket prices are different for each event, and can be purchased online or before the performance, if available. Don’t miss it!

Milano Film Festival
4-14 September
This annual movie fest has feature films, shorts, animated flicks, events and movies for kids lots of other side events. Films are from all over the world so lots of languages are represented, check out their website for more info. Ticket prices range from €4-8 and can be purchased before each screening. It’s a must for film lovers and a great way to enjoy the outdoor venues as the Milanese return to the city after summer break!

AC Milan logoSerie A Soccer Games at San Siro
14, 20, 24 and 28 September
AC Milan or Inter fan? The Serie A tournament kicked off at the end of August, which means the city’s soccer stadium will be packed whenever a game is scheduled: they’re typically on Sunday evenings, though games can also be on Sunday afternoon or Saturday evening or the occasional Wednesday evening game. The next matches will be:
– Inter-Sassuolo, Sunday 14 September, 3:00pm
– Milan-Juventus, Saturday 20 September, 8:45pm
– Inter-Atalanta, Wednesday 24 September, 8:45pm
– Inter-Cagliari, Sunday 28 September, 3:00pm
AC Milan tickets can be purchased online, at a Banca Populare di Milano branch or the AC Milan offices, near Portello. Get more info on the team’s website. Inter tickets can be purchased online or at one of the many Best Union sales points located in Milano and around Italy. Get more info on the team’s website.

Fashion's Night Out logoVogue Fashion’s Night Out
16 September
This event was created by the world-famous fashion magazine in NYC in 2009. It gradually expanded to include other fashion capitals and now events are organized in tons of cities around the world. What can you expect if you’re out on the town on the 16th? Lots of people hanging out in designer shops after-hours, some freebies, limited edition items, a fun look at the fall/winter fashions and maybe some celebrity sightings. What’s not to love to kick off fashion week?

Milan Fashion Week
17-22 September
Each fall after New York Fashion Week and London Fashion Week, fashionistas head to Milano to see  lots of great designers sending their newest looks down the runway. If you’ve got an “in” with the fashion world, you might be able to snag in invite to one of the shows. If not, you’ll have to settle for people watching outside the venues or watching live or taped fashion shows on the jumbo screens scattered around town.

Watching the World Cup in Milano

Will you be rooting for the Azzurri this summer? Or maybe The Three Lions? Or La Celeste or Los Ticos instead? For the uninitiated, these are all nicknames for national soccer teams that will face off during this year’s World Cup matches. 32 countries from all over the world are sending their men’s soccer teams to Brazil this year for the biggest championship in football. Don’t worry, you can still keep tabs on the action, even if you’re thousands of kilometers from the sunny coasts of Brazil in hot and humid Milano. Here’s how.

Students playing foosballOutdoor jumbo screens
Big-screen viewings of all the Italy games are scheduled in open-air piazzas around the city. But, before you make plans to watch some of the games outside, remember to check the weather forecast for possible rain or super-hot temps.

For the first game on Thursday at 10pm, Brazil vs Croatia, the first Italy game on Saturday at midnight (technically 12am on Sunday morning) and several other big games, jumbo screens will be set up at the following locations:

  • Alzaia Naviglio Grande – 3 screens will show the games, along with several related activities and stands. This is a cool location that will use the water creatively, and it’s right next to Milan’s biggest nightlife spot.
  • Piazza Castello – In the new pedestrian area near the castle, which has been home to food and souvenir stands for the past few weeks, a big screen will be set up to watch a different soccer match every day.
  • Idroscalo – Located on the outskirts of the city (take the 73 bus to Linate, then bus 183 or 930), this man-made lake is surrounded by a huge park and a few bars and clubs. It will host World Cup games on a 50m video wall, in addition to other related activities for sports fans.
  • Carroponte (Bicocca) – This is another locations that’s not close to downtown (Via Granelli 1, Sesto San Giovanni), but it’s not far from the Sesto Marelli/Sesto Rondò and the Bignami subway stops. Located in a large area with food stands galore, they will be showing all the Italy games and a few of the other big teams during the first round of matches.

TV options
If you’d rather watch the games in the comfort of your own home, Italy’s public TV station RAI1 will be showing one game per day, including all the Italy games. The schedule (available online here) is out for the first few days:

  • 12 June, 10pm: Brazil-Croatia
  • 13 June, 9pm: Spain-Netherlands
  • 14-15 June, 12am midnight: England-Italy
  • 15 June, 9pm: France-Honduras

And, if you or a generous friend happens to subscribe to pay TV channels (i.e. Sky or Mediaset Premium), you can probably catch all the other games too, even the teams that aren’t as popular in Italy.

Pubs and bars
The other option is, of course, to find a good pub with a TV or two that’s showing the game you’re interested in. And you can drink an ice cold beer and enjoy some pub food during the game. There are a few good sports pubs around town, and even regular pubs and bars often have a TV hooked up with premium channels for all the games. Remember, though, that for big games it’s always a good idea to call ahead and make a reservation.

Enjoy watching the games while you’re in Milan. And may the best team win!

Milano Design Week 2014: 8-13 April

Porta Nuova lighting and skyscraperIl Salone del Mobile. The International Furniture Fair. Milan Design Week.  Fuorislone. If you’re in Milan around the second week of April, you’ll probably hear some or all of these terms, and you might wonder what it all means. Well, the answer is pretty simple: this week-long event is the largest interior design trade fair in the world and big names in the world of design from all over the world are welcomed in Milan. In addition, there are tons of side-events all over the city open to the general public at the same time. This is usually called Fuorisalone or just Design Week.

Salone sign on the street

The official Salone del Mobile trade fair event has been around since the early ’60s, and every year it seems to grow in scale and importance. The extra events around town have been happening almost as long as the Salone.

So, if you’re interested in design, cool trends or just seeing and meeting interesting, hip people from around the world, you have lots of options about how to participate in Milan’s Design Week 2014.

The map on the Fuorisalone website is very helpful, you can filter by topic or kind of event and you can find a place that’s convenient and/or close to where you are. Or you can download their app so you can have all the info on your mobile device. Of course, if you have friends who are already interested in one of the events, you don’t even need the online information!

To give you a general idea of where Fuorisalone events and showrooms are located, these are the main districts:

  • Via Tortona (over the bridge from Porta Genova) – this is the most famous place to hit up events
  • Brera – another big district
  • Lambrate – relatively new, but the area has a lot of options
  • Corso Como – new Porta Nuova area, simply a cool place to see some of Milan’s latest artchitecture
  • Sarpi Bridge – Milan’s Chinatown hosts a new group of events focused on Asia-inspired design

Some of the events require an invitation, so be aware of that possibility.

If you want to attend the actual trade fair, it’s open to the public on Saturday and Sunday 12 and 13 April only. Tickets cost:
€ 44.00 Ticket for Two
€ 49.00 Family ticket (valid for 2 adults + 1 child under 18)

See the official Salone website here and the Fuorisalone site here for more information.

April Fools!

Starbucks on Bocconi campusSorry, readers, but there are actually no plans for a new Starbucks at Bocconi in the near future. It’s just a little joke we came up with to fool you! No Venti Lattes or Frappuccinos for all of you living in Milano, just regular Italian espresso and cappuccino. Which, some people argue, is the best coffee in the world!

Today we’re celebrating April Fools’ Day, or pesce d’aprile in Italian, which literally means “April fish.” This kind of holiday dates back to Roman times and Italian traditions include taping a paper fish on the backs of unsuspecting victims. So why not join in on the fun and make some paper fish for your friends?

Espresso cup and coffee maker

If you want even more craziness for the first day in April, here’s a video that was shot right here on the Bocconi campus:

Kandinsky: A Journey Beyond Space and Time

Palazzo Reale in Milan is hosting “Vassily Kandinsky. The Centre Pompidou Collection” through 27 April.

The exhibit, curated by Angela Lampe – an art historian and curator at Centre Pompidou in Paris – and in collaboration with Ada Masoero for Italy, it is a wide-ranging retrospective focusing on one artist, with over 80 essential works of Kandinsky’s art, in chronological order.

The narrative of the artistic and mental journey of one of the fathers of abstract art, through all the stages of his course, is well-curated and very captivating. From the very first hall, visitors are immersed in a voyage that constantly changes viewpoint, following the growth and pursuit of painting of this great artist from last century. He was an artist who, in addition to painting, practiced art in other fields: music and theater, where he sought to defend the spiritual in art, the title of one of his most important essays.

The exhibition includes over 80 works of art: from Old Town in 1902 to Sky Blue in 1940, along with Windmill in Holland (1904), In Grey (1919), Yellow-Red-Blue (1925), Accent in Pink (1926), Colourful Ensemble (1938). The visitor can walk through the sections of the exhibit in an ideal journey through Kandinsky’s art from his debut to his culmination, from the years in Russia, to those in Germany and France until, savoring a unique and unforgettable experience and delving into a setting that will have the power to transport them beyond space and time.

Vassily Kandinsky. The Centre Pompidou Collection
Milan, Palazzo Reale, through 27 April
Admission: €11 – €9.50 – € 5.50
(Exhibit promoted and produced by the Councilorship for Culture of the City of Milan, Palazzo Reale, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, 24 ORE Cultura – Gruppo 24 ORE and Arthemisia Group)

Getting Ready for Carnival in Milano

Did you know that Carnival lasts longer in Milano?

A typical Catholic and Christian celebration, Carnival involves parades, parties, masquerading and sweet treats. Once a year, the world is turned upside down as a few days of follies and eccentricities precede the forty rigorous days of Lent that lead up to Easter. Everybody has heard of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival, of course. In Italy, Venice and Viareggio hold masquerades and parades just as beautiful (and there are many others, each one different, all over the country!). Around the world, festivities culminate on Mardi Gras, which is the last day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins.

Locals celebrating Carnival at the DuomoAll over the world, except in Milano.

That’s because a slightly different liturgical rite, called the Ambrosian Rite – the Rito Ambrosiano named after a fourth century bishop of Milan – is followed here and in the surrounding areas. As the legend goes, Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, was away on a pilgrimage; when he announced he’d be back in time for Carnival, the people decided to wait to celebrate with him, so that now it lasts four days longer than any other Carnival – until Saturday, called appropriately sabato grasso (or Samedi Gras). Then, Lent starts on Sunday instead of Ash Wednesday.

As a consequence, Samedi Gras is the hottest day in Ambrosian Carnival, when the biggest events are held and confetti colors the whole city. Of course, the main events take place downtown all around Piazza del Duomo – all you’ve got to do is go in centro on Saturday afternoon to find yourself surrounded by masks, traveling entertainers, music and party noise!

This year, Samedi Gras will take place on Saturday 8 March, which also happens to be International Women’s Day.

So, to start off the festivities, here’s what to do. First of all, make sure you try out the most famous Carnival dessert, chiacchiere. Find out more about this delicious tradition.

And don’t forget, you’ll need a costume! Check out this information on Halloween costumes (all stores included in the article will be all decked out and supplied with Carnival costumes in the days leading up to the final day of celebrations).

No Plans for the Weekend? Join the XXI Spring FAI Day!

XXI Spring Day PosterOn March 23rd and 24th 2013 FAI, the Italian Environment Fund, will open the doors of most of its treasures to the public and will attract a great amount of people throughout Italy for this event.

It will be an occasion to discover and rediscover Italian cultural heritage, to enjoy it but also to become more aware of what Italy offers in terms of art, history, culture and beauty. In past editions the event has involved more than 6.5 million people every year.
FAI is a national foundation that protects and restores historic buildings, art works and landscapes with the purpose of opening them to public once back to good conditions.

Villa scene
The Gardens of Villa Del Balbianello, Lenno (Como)

This year you will have the opportunity to choose among 700 places, and in some of them you will also find tourist guides (without set fees) that will help you discover the places. Churches, castles, historical buildings and archaeological areas, villas, courts, gardens, universities and much more are waiting for you for a special weekend to spend with your friends!

What can you visit in Lombardy?
Our region offers multiple sites to visit, spread on all the territories of the provinces. Have a look at the FAI website to discover what the provinces of Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Lecco, Lodi, Mantova, Milano, Monza and Brianza, Pavia, Sondrio and Varese offer you.

Building at night
Palazzo Serbelloni, Milano

A weekend in Milan, plenty of places to choose from!
If you planned to stay in Milan for the weekend, there’s no better way to welcome spring than choosing among the places FAI opens for you. You can choose among multiple places spread through all the city: for some of them you don’t need a subscription to FAI to enter, while for some others you’ll be required to register to the foundation first.

Have a look at the FAI website to explore all the possibilities Milan offers you for this weekend.
Some of the most attractive places in the city are waiting for you, such as Palazzo Serbelloni, Chiesa di San Fedele, Sinagoga Maggiore, La Cavallerizza, Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi, Gallerie d’Italia and many others.

Bocconi building
Roentgen Building, Università Bocconi, Milano

Did you know that the Bocconi Roentgen building participates in the Spring Fai Day?
Roentgen Building, Università Bocconi, Milano
On Saturday March 23rd and Sunday March 24th from 10:00 to 17:00 the University opens the Roentgen building to visitors. There is also the possibility to join the guided tour in English, that leaves the Bocconi Campus at noon.

For more information, check out the Bocconi website and ViaSarfatti25.it.

9/11, Ten Years After

This coming Sunday is the tenth anniversary of 9/11, a day that’s marked in world history as one of the most shocking events in recent years—to the point that the date alone, ‘nine eleven’, is enough to elicit acknowledgment and bitter memories. Besides the inherent tragedy, the fact that the whole world practically could see it happening live on the TV and online just added to the collective anguish—and so it was with the aftermath.

The City of Milano has organized two exhibitions and other events to commemorate the day. Opening tonight (invite-only), 11.9, Il giorno che ha cambiato il mondo. Dieci anni dopo. Documenti e immagini (‘9/11, The Day that Changed the World. Ten Years After. Documents and images’) is a photographic exhibition that tells the story of the day, and those immediately following, through a selection of pictures from the greatest photographers—James Nachtwey, Steve McCurry, Susan Meiselas among others. It is held in the ground floor rooms at Palazzo Reale. In the building’s inner courtyard, there’s also a contemporary art installation by Antonio Paradiso called L’ultima cena globalizzata | Global Last Supper, made up of 20 tons of Twin Towers debris, while the history behind this work is shown in another room with 70 pictures. Both exhibitions last until October, 2 and entrance is free.

Two concerts are also scheduled for Sunday, September 11:

  • 5.30pm, in the courtyard of Palazzo Marino
    Civica Orchestra di Fiati di Milano: New York, New York (music by Kander, Bernstein, Barber)
  • 8pm, at La Scala
    Orchestra laVerdi, directed by Zhang Xian: Schicksalslied op. 54 for mixed chorus and orchestra by Brahms, and War Requiem op. 66 by Britten.

Finally, tonight at 6.30pm at Palazzo Clerici a panel (in Italian) will revolve about the themes in Britten’s War Requiem. Entrance is free.

11.9, Il giorno che ha cambiato il mondo and L’ultima cena globalizzata | Global Last Supper
September 10—October 2
Palazzo Reale
Piazza Duomo 12
Opening hours: daily 9.30am—7.30pm except Mondays: 2.30pm—7.30pm; Thursdays and Saturdays: 9.30am—10.30pm. Last admission: one hour before closing
Entrance free