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The slow guide to Milan

by Elisa Pierini — last modified 2008-06-20 15:10

In the bustling city of Milan 75 minutes are a lifetime. We suggest you spend them on the Number 4 tram and discover a new laidback side to this busy metropolis.

The first thing you'll notice about the trams in Milan is that they are orange, slow and extremely noisy. Daunting, to say the least, for a foreign tourist. Even the Milanese think of getting the tram as a mini -odyssey through a city they never really take the time to explore. Nineteen tram lines in all cross Milan, bringing you off the beaten track through streets and squares that even the most intrepid tourists never discover. For our trip today we've picked the Number 4 tram, which, since 1927, has been zigzagging for almost ten kilometres through the centre. The tram exudes old-fashioned elegance with its wooden seats and interior and glass lamps hanging from the ceiling.

The Number 4 route takes us across the Isola quarter of Milan, famous for its political protests, left-wing alliances and, to keep the balance straight, as the birthplace of Silvio Berlusconi. It starts its journey heading over the bridge at Via Carlo Farini, passing in front of Garibaldi Station and then along the Cimitero Monumentale before turning off into the bustling streets of Milan's Chinatown. It then cuts through the trees of Parco Sempione and ambles down the busy shopping streets of Via Mercato and Via Broletto with their wonderful churches. Next stop is the magnificent Piazza Cordusio (just a stone's throw from Castello Sforzesco), and then it's off again - this time for an even more illustrious square -Piazza Duomo. The route now takes us through the centre of Milan, along Via Mazzini and Corso di Porta Romana, where, if we look from the window, we can see Palazzo Annoni and the Basilica of San Nazzaro. But don't get off yet. The Number 4 will take you through a myriad of streets and squares, uncovering a busy vibrant city, before it reaches the end of its line at the colourful fruit and vegetable market. All this for the modest price of a 75-minute tram ticket, 1,500 lire. Not bad for Italy's most expensive city, eh?

Castello Sforzesco - A quick guide to Milan's most famous castle with lots of history-related links.
A holiday in Milan - Roland tells us about his holiday experiences in Milan.
Tourist Tram - If you prefer you can take the official tourist tram. Pros: you can listen to a description of the route on the headphones provided. Cons: it's for tourists and costs 30,000 lire rather than 1,500.
Milano - Practical information on visiting Italy's commercial capital from the Rough Guides.
Sandokan - A portal dedicated to free spirits the world over. Sandokan is the site where this article by Elisa Pierini was originally published. (In Italian only)

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