Milan’s top 5 well-kept secrets

Milan is Italy’s financial powerhouse and world’s capital of fashion. The first impression is that Milan is all about conducting business and making money, but you will be surprised by the city’s ability to surprise you with its striving cultural scene and historical heritage. Just between the skyscrapers and the grey buildings, there are many hidden gems which will change your perception about Milan forever. There’s nothing better than an advice from a local expert, so we asked Giorgio, a taxi driver from our Milan taxi office to reveal some of the city’s best kept secrets.

1. Check the architectural optical illusion at Santa Maria presso San Satiro

Santa Maria presso San Satiro basilica in Milan

Hidden behind the Duomo square, the Santa Maria presso San Satiro is a unique architectural work in many ways. This church dates back to the 9th century and it was initially built in honor of St. Satirus, the lesser know sibling of St. Ambrosio. In 1478, a new church was commissioned by the Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza of Milan, but the available location was too limited for his ambitious plan. Therefore, the Renessainse mastermind Bramante managed to solve this problem with an ingenious architectural optical illusion of the interior. When you stand at the entrance you get an impression of a much deeper space behind the altar, which in fact is a 97 cm space.

There is another curiosity about this church related to one of the most important works residing in it, the painting “Madonna and Child”. It is believed that a miracle occurred in 1242 when a young man stuck a dagger in the painting and it began bleeding. The sacred dagger is preserved in the church and the painting is sort of a sacred object.

2. Smart shopping at Corso Vercelli

Corso Vercelli shopping area

Visiting the world’s capital of fashion is always tempting, but unless you’re ready to spend a small fortune on shopping, you should avoid the fashion district (Quadrilatero d’Oro) at all cost. Instead, we suggest going to Corso Vercelli and filling your bags with ultra modern pieces. Corso Vercelli is considered to be the perfect shopping area for ultra modern women, with a mix of local boutiques and international brands. The department store Coin is the one-stop place for everything from clothing to houseware while Via Belfiore has the best selection of quality Italian shoes.

Corso Vercelli is located near Parco Sempione and the closest metro stations where you can take off are: Wagner, Conciliazione and Pagano. If your bags are full you can always get a Milan taxi to get to your accommodation.

3. Time to relax in Guastalla Garden

Guastalla Garden in Milan

During your Milan visit, you’ll come to a point when you need to get away from all the tourist noise. At that moment, you should head straight to Guastalla Garden, an elegant garden which dates back to 1555, to find some peace and quiet. This is one of the oldest parks in Milan with an outstanding green area and beautiful Baroque pond in the centre of it. Here you will find century-old plants with little tags displaying their names and this is a perfect opportunity to learn some new botanic species.

This garden is located near the Milan city centre and you can get there through Via Francesco Sforza. The tram lines 12, 23 and 27 will get you there or you can take a Milan taxi.

4. Fresh food tasting at Mercato Metropolitano

Mercato Metropolitano in Milan

Open markets are a great place to mix with the locals and try some fresh food. Mercato Metropolitano was opened for the Expo 2015 and is a place that gathers local farm producers in one place. It located in the Porta Genova neighbourhood, which is part of the vibrant Navigli district, well-known for the famous canals. It is a perfectly constructed urban market with street food stalls where you can taste the best Italian food prepared by authentic restaurants, as well as, fresh meat, cheese and bread.

The Mercato Metropolitano is a perfect place to get together with friends or family and enjoy the food with a glass of wine. There are also various events and workshops you can attend to and learn some food preparing techniques by the experts.

5. Aperitivo with a view at Ceresio 7

Ceresio 7 pool bar in Milan

Aperitivo is a sacred ritual in Milan and a wonderful opportunity to enjoy cocktails with free snacks. Almost every bar in Milan offers this “happy hour”, but it is good to know where you can feel the real atmosphere and make the most of your stay. The Ceresio 7 bar boasts the most amazing view over Milan skyline where you can enjoy your cocktail by the pool at the rooftop of the Daquared2 building. The little bit overpriced cocktails are complemented by the generous assortment of tasty snacks, and it’s worth every euro spent.

Ceresio 7 is walking distance from Corso Como and the nearest metro station is Garibaldi train station. If you’re not sure how to get by public transport, you can always get a Milan taxi which will take right at the exact address.

Originally published at on February 22, 2016.