The Christmas season in Milan is one of the most beautiful times to visit the city. I was born and raised here, but it’s only in recent years that Milan has really developed on a tourist level on par with cities like London, Paris or New York (or Rome, if we are referring to Italian tourism).
The city offers a number of activities to do and places to visit at Christmas, especially in the historic center. Like every year, there are Christmas markets near Piazza Duomo, but if you are looking for something more traditional and immersive, you can also head to Rho Fiera, where the annual Craft Fair (Artigiano in Fiera) is held and where you can also participate in food tastings.
During the festive period the entire city is illuminated by lights, from the Navigli neighborhood to the Duomo cathedral area. The Darsena district is full of events and stalls, as well as places dedicated to street food, while in the city center a Christmas tree has been set up in every main square; some of the trees are sponsored by luxury brands and will remain until January 6 to bring a joyous atmosphere to Milan.
This year the tree that lights up Piazza Duomo comes from the Italian region of Trentino Alto Adige. It was supposed to be cut down, but cosmetics maker VeraLab has chosen to give it a second life; the tree is decorated with a series of energy-efficient LED lights, and the expense incurred for the energy used will be donated to a local shelter. The tree has been named Pina and I find it beautiful, with its pink lights that make the atmosphere warm and welcoming. This helps to reaffirm pink in all its shades as a 2022 trend that we will definitely carry into 2023.
The tree located in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was set up by Swarovski as usual, super sparkling under the dome of the octagon and near which the storefront of the historic Marchesi pastry shop displays great Christmas installations.
The streets of the Fashion District (Quadrilatero della Moda) were illuminated by lights, especially the Loro Piana palace, on whose façade was installed a giant Christmas lighting in the shape of a snowflake. Store windows are also decorated according to seasonal themes, such as Rolex and its mini Christmas tree. Pasticceria Cova on Via Montenapoleone displayed its Christmas-themed cake creations, a series of artistic masterpieces of the highest quality with Christmas greetings written on them.
Continuing down Via Manzoni, I spotted the historic Grand Hotel et de Milan (which has undergone renovations in recent years and whose entrance is now illuminated by Christmas lights), where my family and I would often hang out for work over the years because presentations and press days of a fashion brand we represented would be held here. I also attended the launching of some fashion collections at the hotel during sales campaign and Milan Fashion Week.
From here I reached Piazza della Scala, where the première of the Boris Godunov opera was held on January 7 (Feast of Saint Ambrose, patron saint of Milan), kicking off the Scala Theatre season. The tree in Piazza della Scala was installed by Dior, consisting of a 10-meter-high golden chandelier decorated with giant LED-illuminated sculptures and surrounded by five smaller Christmas trees decorated according to the Dior perfume aesthetic. The whole set is located on a blue platform that is meant to reproduce the starry sky. The installation respects the concept of sustainability because its materials can be entirely recovered and are a good example of circular economy (I have just graduated from my Fashion Business course at Parsons which made me learn a lot about sustainability and environmental issues, so it is good to see that the fashion industry, the second most polluting in the world, is trying to make an effort to reduce its environmental impact).
During an evening stroll through the streets of the city center, the Christmas trees that decorate the squares look even more beautiful thanks to the illuminations. A series of lights installed on the ceiling of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele dome has been illuminating Milan’s Christmas for years with 50.000 LED lights that give the ceiling a beautiful crystal effect. The lights were installed about 50 meters above the ground and the 12-meter-high Swarovski tree was positioned right below.
There are 19 Christmas trees located in Milan’s various districts, including the eight trees belonging to the “Christmas in the Neighborhoods” initiative. The tree in Piazza Cordusio was installed by Chanel to promote the famous N°5 perfume; it is decorated with ornaments in white, gold and red and features an interactive path that tells about the world of Coco Chanel. The maison is also trying to contribute on a sustainable level by using only the tip of a tree that is still alive and remains in its land of origin. As in the case of the Dior tree, the LED lights are low-consumption and are made of recyclable material, lit only for a few hours in the evening to limit energy consumption.
As far as gastronomy is concerned, Christmas is all about Peck, a reference point for Milanese food and wine since 1883 (my grandfather used to come to the store every Sunday in the ’60s and ’70s). The store expands over three floors and is located on Via Spadari, a side street of Via Torino, very close to the Duomo. In addition to the delicatessen department, Peck also includes an ice cream shop, pastry shop and wine shop. The Peck Christmas menu can also be ordered online, along with their Panettone, which is one of the best in Milan. Peck is now a cornerstone of Milan’s gastronomic tradition, and its Christmas windows are very impressive.
These days I also strolled on Via della Spiga, which is full of Christmas-themed windows (like the Moschino snowmen), and I suggest you take a walk around here during the hours that aren’t too crowded; you may choose to stop by Ralph Lauren, as its bar opened about a year ago at 3 Via della Spiga and offers a menu that combines Milanese cuisine with traditional American dishes.
As I walked along Via della Spiga, I visited the installation in the Spiga 26 hub that concerns urban regeneration projects promoted by the real estate group Hines, in the process of renovating the Torre Velasca, on which now stands the light installation with the inscription: “What Do You Really Want? “. The answer can be found at the Spiga 26 installation, which promotes the initiative “The Best Things Are Not Things”, inside a huge gift box where you can see a sign inviting you to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Mario Abbadessa, managing director of Hines, told InsideArt: “Our mission is to develop real estate projects with the aim of enhancing and redeveloping iconic places and buildings from a sustainable perspective, like the two protagonists of this installation: with Spiga 26 we have, in fact, contributed to the rebirth of one of the most elegant streets of the Quadrilatero and a destination of excellence for the sophisticated Italian and international clientele; by the end of 2023, the restoration of Torre Velasca will also be finished, which, after showing the façade in its original beauty last September, is preparing to become a new meeting place for the city.”
Christmas is a magical time, and we should still reflect on its meaning during a very difficult phase in history because of wars and the post-pandemic economic crisis. We should think of the less fortunate and be thankful for what we have as we each work to achieve our goals.
Words cannot really express how thankful I am for what I have, especially because last year at this time I was experiencing an incredibly difficult situation in many ways, and I am glad I got out of it. If you are going through a tough time right now, know that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, even when it seems like you can’t see it, and there are always people ready to help you because even though we are often led to think otherwise, the world is full of good people. Each of us experiences our own hardships and challenges, but it is important to always keep hope alive and help one another.
Merry Christmas to you all ❤️
My outfit ➝ Hugo Boss coat, Betmar New York beret, Louis Vuitton Speedy bag, Topshop jeans, Marco Milano boots.
All pictures are my own.
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