Let’s skip Piazza Duomo, which is much more than a square is a warehouse of barriers, a meeting place for armoured vehicles, and a field of tents and stages for rallies and concerts: in short, a public space difficult to enjoy and often even to cross. Milan is a city made up more of loops, bends, galleries, arcades, parks than of real squares, also because many of those that come to mind when you think about it are round traffic dividers, car park roofs with impassable grates and flowerbeds, or heavy traffic junctions: Cadorna, Missori, Loreto, Piemonte, Repubblica.
Here to identify the concept of the square as a place of pleasure are not the most classically monumental and representative spaces: with a last, but very significant, negative example, we take Piazza Castello. It is beautiful, there is the Castello Sforzesco and many beautiful buildings around it, but even in the most interesting refurbishment projects it continues to resemble more a large street, a place of passage, than a place to stay, stop and pose.
This role is taken on more by the small squares, generally mineral, than by the empty pauses from the full density of urban building such as Piazza Sant’Alessandro, with the beautiful church, the university and a modest little bar. Or like, on the other side of via Torino, Piazza Mentana, with its legendary mojito kiosk.
Also nearby there is Piazza Affari, a place resemantized by the famous Finger of Cattelan.
The most open and beautiful is perhaps Piazza Sant’Eustorgio, overlooking Corso di Porta Ticinese, while in Brera the only space worthy of the name is Piazza del Carmine, even if it is plagued by huge, horrible dehors. There is also Via Marco Formentini, even if according to our toponymy it is a street, who knows why: with the deconsecrated Church of San Carpoforo (now atelier and lecture hall of the Brera Academy) and the bar where you can drink well in the area, the Cinc.
Once there was Piazza del Liberty, with the beautiful contrast between the blinding white of the palace of the same name and the black of the palace of the Soncini brothers, but now it is shielded by the glass and water of the Apple fountain and dug in the center by the staircase descending towards the eaten apple. However, Piazza San Fedele remains in its place, even if unfortunately Coima (Manfredi Catella) has just managed to close the passage from Via Foscolo to Via Marino to its own advantage.
Enjoy them while you can.
Translated by Sila Turku Askin