An “active” city that lends itself to being explored on two wheels, without taking the metro or other public transport. In search of art, nature and beauty, astride a bicycle
From the city centre to the Abbey of Chiaravalle
For a bike tour that combines history and nature, set out from the Park named after Pope Giovanni Paolo II in the San Lorenzo district and head towards Porta Romana and Corso Lodi as far as the Parco Agricolo in Via San Dionigi, a nature reserve to the south of Milan. Here, in a bucolic setting, you can admire the splendid Church of Sant’Invenzio in Gaggiano and the Casale San Vito on a route that takes you as far as the Abbazia di Chiaravalle, a 12th century Cistercian monastic complex considered to be a masterpiece of the Lombard Romanesque style.
Along the Navigli canals into the countryside
Start your bike excursion from the corner in which the Navigli intersect Via Valenza and continue straight on along the Alzaia del Naviglio Grande – that is, the street flanking the waterway, once used to tow barges and other workboats – as far as the junction with Via Pietro Giordani. Continue down the flat and sunny cycle track which takes you as far as the gates of Abbiategrasso, where you can visit the Basilica di Santa Maria Nuova and the Visconti Castle, stopping off in Corsico, where the Ikea Cultural Hub is headquartered in a large building with a gilt copper roof, symbolizing the Enlightenment of Buddha.
From Cairoli to Chinatown
Starting out from Piazza Cairoli, follow the ring road surrounding Piazza Castello – inside which Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini is housed -, pedal as far as the junction between Via Legnano and Viale Elvezia and continue in a northerly direction until you reach Via Paolo Sarpi, part of a pedestrian precinct dotted with flowerbeds and greenery, which represents the heart of the Milanese Chinatown, just a few steps away from Piazza Gae Aulenti and the New City skyscrapers! If you have a penchant for spices, drop in at Kathay Food, Italy’s largest ethnic supermarket and don’t miss a visit to the Ravioleria Sarpi for some excellent oriental street food. The two-wheel tour continues on to the nearby Fabbrica del Vapore, with its lavish programme of art events, and finishes in Via Ceresio at the eclectic Monumental Cemetery, housing the tombs of some illustrious personages, such as Salvatore Quasimodo and Alessandro Manzoni.
From Porta Nuova to Villa Necchi
At the foot of the Unicredit Tower and the Vertical Forest skyscraper join the cycle track of Via Mike Bongiorno leading to Piazza della Repubblica: from here it is possible to reach the Spanish walls of Milan, better known as the “bastioni”, and take the cycle track close to the Park dedicated to Indro Montanelli, where you may also visit the Natural History Museum, one of the most important of its kind in Europe. Continue cycling along Via Serbelloni until you reach Via Mozart where, at no. 14, you will find Villa Necchi Campiglio, possibly the most sumptuous “House Museum” of Milan.
From Piazza Piemonte to City Life
Starting out from the “twin buildings” of Piazza Piemonte, turn down Via Buonarroti and ride straight on as far as Piazzale Giulio Cesare. Head for the three skyscrapers of the City Life district, one of the largest pedestrian precincts of Europe, where you may treat yourself to some retail therapy in the City Life Shopping District or contemplate the twenty permanent works and more making up the outdoor public art project known as “Artline”. Then take Viale Lodovico Scarampo and end your excursion on the winding paths of the Alfa Romeo Industrial Park signed by US landscape designer Charles Jencks, where the eponymous automotive production plant used to stand.
Photo credits: Museoscienza.org / Museo nazionale della scienza e della tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, Milano.
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