Milan gears up for long weekend

National Day on Friday makes for long weekend.

As Italy’s Festa della Repubblica national day this year fell on a Friday, the result is a three-day weekend to celebrate the arrival of summer weather. There will be a wide range of activities available for everyone, kids and adults, who choose to stay in the city.

Football fans will not want to miss the Champions League final between Juve and Real Madrid, playing in Cardiff on 3 June. Several pubs and parks around the city are setting up giant screens to watch the match. The former Expo Milano 2015 grounds at Rho will offer the largest arena to cheer on the black and whites.

Another sporting opportunity comes as many open-air swimming pools open for the ponte before their usual mid-June date, in particular the 27 operated by the municipal agency Milanosport. Among these, the most popular Argelati, Lido, Romano and Scarioni will open at no extra charge beyond the normal entrance ticket. Many are fitted with sun decks and beach-volley courts.

In tune with the summer weather, the four-day Gelato Festival at Piazza Castello opened on 1 June and will continue through until 23.00 on 4 June.

Also in the former Expo grounds, a three-day Festival del Volo will offer hot-air balloon flights, flight simulators, drones and kites, with an exhibit of air and space craft and kids’ workshops, DJ sets and street food throughout the long weekend.

City museums and galleries will open for free visits on 4 June, in line with the culture ministry’s initiative for the first weekend of every month. The only one requiring booking is Leonardo’s Cenacolo (Last Supper) at S. Maria delle Grazie.

Apart from the regular exhibits, 4 June will see a special Bimbi al Castello programme for children at the Sforza castle in the city centre. Throughout the day, from 10.00 to 18.00, youngsters can take part in visits, a treasure hunt, games, and a singing workshop to rehearse the opera Chip and his dog, with a closing performance open to parents and friends.

For the more traditional music lovers, a free concert of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony will be performed in Milan’s iconic Duomo, with Zubin Mehta conducting the orchestra of Naples’ S. Carlo opera house. The cathedral will be open free as long as places are available on 3 June from 20.15, with the performance starting at 21.00.