Christmas Time In Milan

Milan - Christmas Time.
Navigli – Annual Christmas lighting

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.

Pink Christmas Tree and Duomo.
VeraLab Christmas tree and the Duomo at night
Swarovski Christmas Tree - Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.
Swarovski Christmas tree – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Marchesi 1824 - Christmas Time.
Marchesi 1824 – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

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.


The Beauty Of Friuli’s Vineyards And A Family History: A Day At Lorenzonetto Cav. Guido Wine Estate

Entrance of the Lorenzonetto wine estate

Last month I was in the Italian region of Friuli to spend some time with part of the family and during those days I had the pleasure of visiting one of the largest wine estates in the area because during our lunches at home we always drink the red wine produced by Lorenzonetto, buying it directly from them.

The Lorenzonetto Cav. Guido wine estate is located in the municipality of Pertegada, near the town of Latisana; the wine business is entirely run by the Lorenzonetto family, where winemaking and vineyard cultivation have been handed down through generations (they have been winemakers in Friuli since 1968).

Although the company retains the ancient traditions related to winemaking, it has also embraced the technological innovations of our time for the production process. The area of the Friulian plain where the wine estate is located makes the development of vineyards particularly favorable because the soils are well endowed with micro-elements. The area is also favored by a microclimate because of its proximity to the Adriatic Sea (about 11 km from the coastal town of Lignano Sabbiadoro) and its currents of warm and salty air, which facilitate the creation of tasty and fragrant wines.

Friulian vineyards and trees in the fall
Inside the Lorenzonetto store
Wine barrels

It all started in the 1960s, when Guido Lorenzonetto, together with his wife Ornella, arrived in Friuli and immediately started crafting fine wines which were greatly prized by local residents and tourists (Friuli is one of Italy’s most visited regions and the vineyard clientele is also international because the area is very close to Austria and Slovenia).

The running of the estate founded by Guido Lorenzonetto and his wife is now handled by their sons Mara and Marco, who have always been committed to improving and expanding wine and prosecco production and vineyard cultivation. I had the pleasure of meeting Ornella and Mara and was very impressed by their kindness and the professionalism with which they run this wonderful family business. They welcomed me to their wine estate and showed me around the wine production areas, allowing me to explore the surroundings and take photographs.


A Day In Bergamo, Northern Italy

Città Alta (Upper Bergamo), Italy

As some of you may already know, I was born and raised in Milan so I have often visited the city of Bergamo over the years because it is less than an hour’s drive from my native city.

The high plain of Bergamo gives way to the last hills of the pre-Alps of Bergamo, midway between the Brembo and Serio rivers. The ancient core of the city was founded right on the hills.

As with all the cities in the region of Lombardy, Northern Italy, the climate is very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter (sometimes it is even colder than Milan), so it is best to visit mid-season, especially in the spring time.

My last visit to Bergamo was in September 2021, when the days were still warm but not excessively hot, so it was very pleasant to walk around the city on foot and discover all the historical sights it has to offer.

Once part of the Roman Empire, at the beginning of the 13th century Bergamo fell under the influence of the Visconti of Milan, who fortified the citadel.

From 1428 Bergamo became part of the dominions of the Republic of Venice. The Venetians rebuilt the old city, erecting strong defensive walls. Venetian rule continued until the Napoleonic era, but with the Restoration Bergamo fell into the Austrian sphere under the Lombardo-Venetian Kingdom. The Austrians were the forerunners of the first industrialization of the Bergamo area, with the planting of textile factories. Bergamo took part in the Risorgimento (Resurgence) by supplying much of the Thousand, who belonged to all social classes except the rural world (nowadays the city is still known as “City of the Thousand”). The place was also fortunate enough not to suffer any bombing during World War II.

Bergamo is characterized by two parts: “Città Bassa” (Lower Bergamo, which is the modern part and includes the city centre and the railway station) and “Città Alta” (Upper Bergamo, the most iconic and interesting part of the city).

I spent the morning exploring Città Bassa, which is home to the city hall and to the headquarters of the prefecture and the Province of Bergamo. Lower Bergamo’s main avenue is called Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII; it connects the railway station to Porta Nuova, adjacent to the city centre, which is very ancient, since it was created in the first years of 1900. The city is also home to a lot of museums, like the Archaeology Museum, the Modern Art Gallery and the Museum of Natural Sciences.

Porta Nuova is a monumental gateway to the city of Bergamo which was built in the Neoclassical style in 1837, on the occasion of Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria’s entry into the city the following year. It is located in what is one of the central areas of Bergamo, along with the Torre dei Caduti (Tower of the Fallen); the tower is part of Bergamo’s History Museum and it is one of the most symbolic monuments in Lower Bergamo, as it was built on the patriotism wave that followed World War I, not only in honor and memory of Bergamo’s fallen soldiers but also to consolidate the idea of unified nationalism. In the city centre, close to the railway station, there is also the Church of Santa Maria Immacolata delle Grazie, which is located on Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII, the main avenue in Lower Bergamo that connects the city to Upper Bergamo.

The new church was built between 1857 and 1875 in place of the old basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Grace and it features a beautiful cycle of frescoes, especially the miraculous fresco of the Holy Jesus.

Tower of the Fallen(Torre dei Caduti), Bergamo, Italy.
Torre dei Caduti (Tower of the Fallen), Lower Bergamo
Santa Maria Immacolata delle Grazie, Bergamo, Italy.
Santa Maria Immacolata delle Grazie, Lower Bergamo

Five Places To See In Pavia, Northern Italy

Vicolo dei Longobardi, Pavia, Italy

I have visited Pavia on various occasions, mainly because some of my friends are from this town which is located about forty minutes from Milan, in Lombardy (Northern Italy). Gaia, one of my best friends, comes from the province of Pavia, while a couple of our friends were born and raised there. However, I first visited Pavia seven years ago because I used to spend some winter afternoons with my above-mentioned friends, especially during the weeks approaching Christmas. My friend Alice’s sister also had her bachelorette party at Demetrio, one of the most famous restaurants and lounge bars in town.

What probably characterizes Pavia the most is its historic center, which contains much of its artistic heritage, including places like Castello Visconteo (a large castle built by Galeazzo Visconti II in 1360-1365 that is now home to the City Museums), Broletto (a palace built between the 12th and 13th centuries that used to be the city hall and now hosts temporary art exhibitions), Teatro Fraschini (the opera house) and dozens of churches like San Michele Maggiore (a Lombard- Romanesque architecture church), Santa Maria del Carmine (a great example of Gothic brickwork architecture) and San Francesco d’Assisi (a Romanesque church with a restored Gothic façade). The most famous church is probably the Duomo di Pavia (Cathedral of Pavia), which is the third one for size in Italy and whose construction began in the 15th century during the Renaissance, on the site of two pre-existing Romanesque cathedrals.

There is also the Monastery of San Felice, which was built in 760 and now houses various departments of the University of Pavia. The University is one of the oldest worldwide and its buildings and facilities are located in different parts of the city; this makes Pavia a “city campus” that includes ancient, prestigious colleges like Ghislieri and Borromeo, which have historical heritage.

It is best to visit Pavia in mid-season because the weather is very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter, a time when a dense fog also usually descends upon the city and its surroundings and makes the weather even harsher. There are also some out-of-town places that can be visited, where many artisanal activities are based, especially the ones related to agriculture. The Certosa di Pavia (Carthusian Monastery) is definitely worth a visit; it is a historic monumental complex that includes a monastery and shrine, located about ten kilometers from Pavia. There are also some urban parks and natural areas nearby if you want to spend some time in nature, like Parco del Ticino and Bosco Grande.

Below I have rounded up five locations worth seeing when visiting Pavia:

Duomo - Pavia, Italy.
Cathedral of Pavia and Regisole Statue

1) Duomo di Pavia (Cathedral of Pavia) : it is the most impressive church in Pavia and an important Renaissance building. It was named after St. Stephen and St. Mary of the Assumption and in some ways its structure is reminiscent of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome.

The beginning of work on the Cathedral dates back to the 15th century, although the construction went on for a long time until the 20th century and it is still unfinished where the marble coverings are concerned.