Italy | Milan Unveiled: Il Parco Sempione

I am walking through il Parco Sempione on a cold and rainy Milanese day, and I am in a frenzy. The world is a bowl of colors and blurry shapes, and I am caught in its whirlwind, snapping anything that catches my eye.

Generally, I try to be spontaneous in my photography, but often find myself upset over not having captured a moment I could have, and perhaps should have anticipated. Perhaps it’s the panic of potentially missing the perfect photograph. Too distracted by living life, I often forget to capture a moment that is so fascinating and vivid, that I would give anything to have had it documented, though I sometimes feel I am missing an experience if I am seeing it through the eye of a frame. Frequently, there is opportunity to capture the image, but, whilst in the moment, I somehow feel a complete inability to do so, and then it is too late. The moment has passed. It will never again occur. Thus, camera out, I am scanning my territory, stalking nature for my perfect picture. I am taking pictures of paths, bridges, statues, grass, sky, and trees.

I am trying to take a perfect photograph, but am continually dissatisfied. I keep reminding myself that discontent will only progress my skills. As Edison once said, “Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won’t work.” Perhaps I am learning what kinds of photographs do not work. I am trying to train my eye. To describe my photographic intentions is rather difficult. Though I am attempting to capture reality as it is, I am also trying to manipulate the image to convey my own emotions and perceptions. It is a contradiction. A photograph is not reality, and therefore cannot convey the entirety of a situation. A photograph is subject to different perception, judgment, and analysis. Perception is a complicated matter. Reality is a complicated matter. I am trying to claim it for myself. Unfortunately, this kind of photograph does not belong to me. This kind of photograph was never mine.

In any case, il Parco Sempione is a bouquet of beauty and secrets, and there is plenty to see.

For the best treats in Milano, be sure to hit:

  1. Castello Sforzesco
  2. L’accumulazione Musicale e Seduta: This wonderfully peculiar piece of art seems almost meant to rest here; whether sculpture or amphitheatre, this limestone monument will leave you staring and speculating, thanks to the 1973 Trennial Celebration. In the center of the miniature amphitheatre lays a cube which envelops various musical instruments, and chairs of assorted sizes are drowned in the structure itself. This place is home to many small events, including bongo players in the summer, who utilize the outdoor seating and acoustics. The work of the famous American painter and sculptor Arman, it appears almost forgotten in the rain, save for some models posing briefly atop its jagged edges.
  3. Il Chiosco Scultura, by Giorgio Amelio Roccamonte, which was created in 1973, does indeed scream of era.
  4. La Fontana dei Bagni Misteriosi (The Fountain of Mysterious Baths): One of the last works by the renowned artist Giorgio deChirico. Also the result of the 1973 Trennial Celebration, it is a rare sight in Milan – indeed, there are few products of master artists exposed to the elements here. It rests in front of the Triennale building, showing off its mythological symbols and waves.
  5. La Triennale: La Triennale was born in 1933 to host the International Expositions of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts and of Modern Architecture, opening its current doors in 1993. Today, this museum is a permanent showcase of Italian design, often boasting prestigious exhibits and interesting light shows. It’s definitely worth a visit, and I found myself to be one of very few tourists within its walls. Most brochures are in Italian, but the museum is mostly self-explanatory, and the staff is willing to help guide you around. This is the place for learning about Made in Italy and even sectors of the fashion industry. If you enjoy the modern art or architectural scene, La Triennale is for you.
  6. Torre Branca: Standing 108 meters tall, this simple tower was designed by Gio Ponti. The elevator inside was not functioning upon my visit, probably due to weather, but apparently shoots the observer to the panoramic viewpoint in just under 1.5 minutes, and is sure to provide amazing views of il Castello Sforzesco and the park.
  7. L’arco della Pace (Arch of Peace): Luigi Cagnola started this arch, which opens toward Corso Sempione and therefore Paris, in 1807 to celebrate the victory of Napoleon. It was later finished in 1838. It is currently undergoing restoration, and is mostly covered. However, it still stands tall in a cement frame, providing a nice area for socializing and meandering down the avenue.
  8. Acquario Civico di Milano: Walking briskly by, you would never imagine that this building houses one of the oldest aquariums in all of Europe. Entrance is free, and though small, the aquarium is rather quaint. In the outdoor section, various modern statues mix with large, lounging turtles and vibrant fish – perfect for a warm afternoon.
  9. Green spaces: In 1888, the Milanese fought to keep this space green, despite plans for construction. Even today, it remains one of the few lush spaces in Milan, filled with lawns, trees, and scenic water pools. So, take a step back from the chaos of Milan and enjoy a nice book or some people watching on the rare occasions when the sun emerges. Or, like me, you can peruse the park on a rainy day and enjoy the treasure for yourself.

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