Stroll the leafy lanes of Milan's English-style central park.
It’s full of elderly ladies with small dogs on leads and fit young runners. The paths meander through rolling green English-style lawns and stands of ornamental trees, past benches where yummy mummies and nannies with prams cluster to gossip. Right in the heart of Milan, next to the Castello Sforzesco, the 47-hectare (116-acre) Parco Sempione (Sempione Park) is, without a doubt, the finest of Milan’s parks. It’s a welcome green lung in a city with relatively little greenery, but it has also got several sights of its own.
Once the ducal orchards and kitchen gardens, and the Piazza d’Armi (military parade ground), it was landscaped in the English style as a public park in 1893 by Emilio Alemagna and turned into a public space in 1893. At the far end of the park, the Arco del Pace (Arch of Peace) was designed by Luigi Cagnola to celebrate Napoleon's arrival in the city. Napoleon died before it could be finished, however, and it was eventually completed in 1838 for the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Ferdinand I.
Luigi Canonica’s Arena Civica is also Napoleonic (1806), a classical style amphitheatre used when it was built for spectaculars from chariot races to mock sea battles (the arena was flooded for the occasion). Now, more tamely, it’s used for athletics and open-air concerts. On the other side of the park, the mini-Eiffel tower, Giò Ponti's 1933 Torre Branca, is a hangover from one of the many exhibitions held in the park over the years. You can still take the lift up to a viewing platform for one of the best views in the city. Next to the tower is the Triennale, with its splendid design museum.