Five free and unusual activities in Milan

Discover unique experiences in Milan, even if you are on a budget. 

 

  • Relax in the garden of a 1930s mansion

Villa Necchi Campiglio is a visitable mansion from the 1930s designed by architect Piero Portaluppi. The mansion was donated by the Necchi Campiglio family to the Fondo Ambiente Italia (the Italian equivalent of Britain's National Trust) in 2001 and has been open to the public since 2008. Although entering the mansion requires a paid ticket, visiting the garden is free all-year round. A bookshop, a cafeteria/restaurant, and wi-fi are also available onsite. Wed-Sun, 10.00-18.00. Via Mozart 14.

Villa Necchi Campiglio's garden. Ph: @luiscyrillo

 

 

  • Find pink flamingoes in the centre of the city

Close to Villa Necchi Campiglio, another mansion attracts attention: Villa Invernizzi. This mansion was the private house of the Invernizzi family, entrepreneurs of the dairy industry who left their home to the Invernizzi Foundation. Since trespassing the mansion’s limits is prohibited, curious passers-by must contend in peeking through the garden’s gates to admire a population of pink flamingoes that was brought there from South America in the 1970’s. Via Cappuccini, 7, 20122 Milano MI

Villa Invernizzi. Ph: @shoppingmap_it

 

 

  • Find the ear on the wall

Nearby the mansions mentioned above there is also Palazzo Sola-Busca, a classical building distinguished by having one unique trait: a bronze ear. Sculpted by Adolfo Wildt, the ear used to be an intercom in 1930, which transmitted guests' voices across the wall when spoken directly into the sculpture. Rumour has it that the current tenants grew tired of passers-by shouting into the ear and have replaced the system with a modern intercom. However the sculpture is intact, giving life to the saying ‘walls have ears’. Via Gabrio Serbelloni 10.

Palazzo Sola-Busca. Ph: @ltzmzz

 

 

  • Hang-out with real human bones

When entering the Church of S. Bernardino alle Ossa, take the first corridor to the right and find the small but impressive chapel ossuary. It consists of a square with a few benches facing an altar of Our Lady of Sorrows, all surrounded by hundreds of real human skulls and bones adorning the four walls. The church dates back to the 13th century, but was rebuilt in 1750 after suffering severe damage from the collapse of the bell tower of the neighbouring church. The entrance is free, but plan your visit carefully: popular belief holds that on All Souls Day, 2 November, the bones of a young girl among the ossuary come back to life and wake up the other skulls to dance with her in a macabre show. Mon-Fri 07.30-12.00 and 13.00-18.00; Sat-Sun, 09.30-12.00. Verziere 2.

S. Bernardino alle Ossa. Ph: @kristen152

 

 

  • See Milan from a birds' eye-view

Among the tallest buildings of Milan is the main seat of the Lombardy government, Palazzo Lombardia. Once a week it opens itself to the public making it possible to see the city's panorama from a 160-m height at the Belvedere on the 39th floor. Also open to the public is the Museo Verticale (vertical museum) on the ground floor, displaying original art by Italian and foreign emerging artists. Booking is not necessary. Sun 10.00-18.00. Piazza Citta di Lombardia, entrance through Nucleo 1.

 

Palazzo Lombardia. Ph: @ilariapremazzi