Italy Activities

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Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera
Via Brera, 28, Borgonuovo
This beautiful seventeenth-century building is still a functioning university, but thanks to its significant inventory of cultural loot, it also operates as a museum, known as the Pinacoteca di Brera. The site started as a convent but opened as a museum in 1809. Nowadays, it’s home to Milan’s primary collection of paintings, with pieces you’ll probably recognize from your art history textbook—Raphael’s Marriage of the Virgin, Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus—as well as more modern works by artists like Modigliani. After browsing the galleries, take a stroll through the on-site botanical gardens.
Via Bergognone, 40, Zona Tortona
Giorgio Armani opened this cultural hub just a few years ago to celebrate his fortieth anniversary in the fashion business. The “Silos” aspect of the name pays homage to the building’s former life as a grain-storage facility, but the space now holds hundreds of pieces of Armani apparel and accessories that, in their own way, chart how fashion is influenced by society over the decades. Clothing aside, the museum regularly hosts exhibitions of photography and film. The courtyard has a pleasant café for a coffee break after a look around.
Auditorium Parco della Musica
Via Pietro de Coubertin, 30, Parioli
While a decidedly modernist building may seem out of place on a Roman itinerary, this Renzo Piano-designed (The Whitney in NYC, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris) performing arts venue is well worth a visit. Situated away from the city center, the cluster of three concert halls, including an open-air amphitheater, is built on lush park grounds a stone's throw from the Olympic village erected for the 1960 games. Come here to experience everything from opera to chamber music to film in a beautiful space that’s frequented predominantly by locals.
Basilica San Clemente
Via Quattro Novembre, 94, Monti
Named after Pope St. Clement, the basilica is a layer cake of Roman history and architecture—a private home turned Christian church in the second century, which morphed into a Mithras temple in the third century, and its current incarnation as a Medieval temple after that. While it may not look like much on the outside, inside it’s done in breathtaking twelfth-century mosaics with multiple chapels and fascinating little nooks making up a sort of architectural treasure hunt.
Casa degli Atellani
Corso Magenta, 65, San Vittore
This large villa came to the Atellani family via a donation from the Duke of Milan in the late 1400s. The family wasted no time transforming the property into Milan’s party house of the period (Leonardo da Vinci actually stayed there while painting The Last Supper), and its magnificence is still (basically) intact. An audio guide accompanies you through the many rooms filled with paintings and antiques that belonged to the family. The surrounding gardens and vineyard are great for strolling through after a cappuccino and pastry at the café.
Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola
Via del Caravita, 8a, Colonna
While opulent churches are plentiful here, and you should definitely take the opportunity to pop into any you come by, Sant’Ignazio deserves a designated visit. Built in the 1650’s, this Baroque church’s elaborate trompe l’oeil frescos took painter Andrea Pozzo years to complete—most labor intensive of all being the faux dome, which looks incredibly real from the right angle, and the beautifully restored vaulted ceilings.
Piazza del Colosseo, 1, Monti
Inarguably one of the world’s most impressive archeological wonders and the site of so many of Imperial Rome’s goings on, the Colosseum (one word: Gladiators!), Roman Forum (the apex of ancient Roman life, teaming with incredibly well-preserved structures from as far back as the sixth century BC), and Palantine Hill (the most frequented of Rome’s seven hills, plus killer views of the city and former chariot racing venue, Circus Maximus) trinity is essential. The Colosseum is breathtaking year-round, while the neighboring forum and Palentine Hill are especially stunning in spring and summer when the native wildflowers are in full bloom. You can certainly walk around on your own, though we recommend hiring a knowledgeable tour guide to lend some historical context and to help navigate, as you can easily take a wrong turn and miss out on some of the really good stuff.
Fattoria di Fiorano
Via Fioranello 34, Fiorano
Discovering a winery—much less an organic one—in a bustling city such as Rome feels a lot like stumbling on a hidden treasure, and this family-owned spot truly is a gem. The ancient land surrounding the winery is perfect for walking or biking (the preferred way to get to the winery); take a tour of the grounds and hear all about the land’s fascinating history. And it’s not all wines either: The farm also produces olives, cheeses (from the resident goats), fruit, and herbs—all of which is worked into delicious homemade meals at the on-site restaurant.
Fondazione Prada
Largo Isarco, 2, Morivone
A combination of seven older buildings and three new ones in Porta Romana create this center of contemporary art and culture, all masterminded by Rem Koolhaas and opened in 2015. You’ll find a solid collection of twentieth- and twenty-first-century artworks by the likes of Louise Bourgeois and Anish Kapoor, a cinema showing art house and vintage films, a creative space (designed in conjunction with a neuropediatrician) for kids, and one of Milan’s best bookstores. There’s also, of course, the Wes Anderson–designed Bar Luce—a 1950s-style Milanese café that’s alone worth a visit.
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