Other than being the fashion capital, Milan is full of side streets with exhibitions, museums, statues and amazing food! I spent a week here exploring the interesting city and getting inspired about how they are creating a city that is ready for future trends including population growth and air pollution.

Sustainable Food

Around every corner there were a range of amazing food options. I ate like a queen in Milan and when you get out of the main Duomo square, prices can be quite reasonable. Usually a bowl of pasta, side salad and a glass of wine is about 15 euros.

Vegetarian Food Options

The great thing about Italian food is that there is almost always a vegetarian option on every menu. Pasta options include pesto, cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper), pomodoro (tomato). Then there are vegetarian pizzas and things like caponata that is a roasted eggplant, tomato and onion mixed delight!

Most waiters understand the word vegetarian and they can point to the available options if you get stuck with the local menus.

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Ok the best thing about Italy is there are SO many vegetarian options available in normals restaurants. I didn’t have to seek out vegan, organic, bio freaky places to get a ripper meal. Here are some of the names of dishes that are vego (not vegan) friendly and bloody delicious..! – Cacio e Pepe pasta (cheese and pepper- blew my mind!) – Caponata (Sicilian eggplant, tomato and vegetable stew often served at an awkward luke warm temp) – Pesto pasta is a classic and I’ve gone to town on that multiple times – Pomodoro e mozzarella panini (tomato and mozzarella sanga) – Pasta alla norma (eggplant, ricotta pasta) I usually say ‘senza carne per favore’ which means without meat please and this hasn’t failed me yet. All this pasta talk is making me hungry..! I am off to hunt for some lunch! #foodstagram #foodblogger #delicioso #vegetarian #vego #sustainablefood #sustainability #sustainableliving #slowfood #planetbinsights #climateaction #climatechange #carbcentral #carbs #carbsarelife

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Babek The Kebab Revolution

One delicious find that was not Italian was this kebab shop. It wasn’t your classic kebab shop with big doners and the smell of frying oil everywhere. This place had lovely decor and all the ingredients were home made. I had a chickpea fritter kebab and the fritters were so light and delicious. It was about 6 euros and worth every cent!

Sustainable Living

Milan Urban Food Policy Pact

Milan City Council is leading a global movement to encourage city council to create urban food policies that are sustainable for people and the planet.

The Pact illustrates the role of cities in fostering sustainable urban food systems that are inclusive, resilient, safe and diverse, that provide healthy and affordable food to all people in a human rights-based framework. It is a framework for action, listing a set of 37 voluntary, concrete actions, articulated in 6 categories, that every city Mayor around the world can use to improve food systems including governance, production, consumption and waste management. 

I met with Andrea and Cecile from the MUFPP Secretariat team. Their role is to ensure the momentum of the Pact around the world and facilitate the growth of relationships and action between Mayors. To date, they have 199 cities around the world committed to the Pact and every year they convene to share their insights and best practices. 

Read the full article here.

Vertical Forest

This was one of my favourite discoveries. The Vertical Forest is a large residential apartment block, a model for a sustainable residential building. According to the Architect’s website, ‘It is a project for metropolitan reforestation contributing to the regeneration of the environment and urban biodiversity without the implication of expanding the city upon the territory. It is a model of vertical densification of nature within the city that operates in relation to policies for reforestation and naturalization of large urban and metropolitan borders. The first example of the Vertical Forest consisting of two residential towers of 110 and 76 m height, was realized in the centre of Milan, on the edge of the Isola neighborhood, hosting 800 trees (each measuring 3, 6 or 9 meters), 4,500 shrubs and 15,000 plants from a wide range of shrubs and floral plants distributed according to the sun exposure of the facade.’

The Library of Trees

Just around the corner from the Vertical Forest is the ‘Library of Trees.’ The library does not have books but rather contains over 135,000 plants of 100 different species, and 500 trees. The space is incredibly beautiful and it is an open landscape with various spaces to interact with the natural surrounding. For those who don’t enjoy the hustle and bustle of big cities, the Library of Trees is a great place to unwind and reconnect with nature.

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Did you know Milan has a Library of Trees?? It is the third largest park in Milan and an absolute delight to walk through. They have over 135,000 plants of 100 different species, and 500 trees to showcase nature in an urban setting. It was amazing to walk through a space full of young trees with different spaces to sit, contemplate and interact with nature. And remember the vertical forest from my recent post? Well it’s just around the corner! 😍😍 Milan’s commitment to building green space into their city is inspiring and just what the world needs right now.🌳 📚 💖 #greenspaces #milano #milan #city #greenliving #sustainability #cleanair #urbanexploration #park #libraryoftrees #trees #climateaction #planetbinsights #plantmoretrees

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Science Museum

This was a highlight of my time in Milan. The Science Museum has a range of exhibitions from the evolution of food to plastic and material production. They also had a great exhibition about urban density and showcased the sustainable development goals as a way to help shape cities of the future. Below is a post from their exhibition about food called ‘Food People.’

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The Milan science museum was a highlight… and not just because there was a whole exhibition about food!! 😍😋💚 There were exhibitions about space, plastic and materials, urbanisation and the sustainable development goals! In this food exhibition called #foodpeople we explored the origin of food, local farming methods, food diaries from Milanese teenagers and the impact of food on her environment. It was so great to see both adults and children engaging in the food production process and learning about how important it is for us to know where our food comes from. #sustainability #sustainablefood #farm #museum #sciencemuseum #milan #foodproduction #foodblogger #food #interesting #environment #agriculture #planetbinsights

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Location

I stayed near Abbiategrasso station in a lovely AirBnB. They were about 25 minutes from town on the metro but it was so nice to be out of the hustle and bustle of the city. Nearby there was a massive park, community garden plots and a massive lake. It was great to go running and chat with locals who didn’t see me as a tourist but as a traveller.

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Sometimes I like to mix up my travel and stay a bit out of town in an @airbnb with a local family. It’s like a little homestay and a nice break from the hustle and bustle of city living. When I was in Milan I stayed in Abiategrasso which is about 25 min from the city centre by metro. There were communities gardens, wide open parks, a massive creek and the most wonderful sunsets! Walking through the park in the evening was just the perfect way to end my days of meetings, meanderings and musings! Double tap for all that green goodness in one of the world’s busiest cities! 💚🌳💚 #milan #italy #greenspaces #parks #communitygardens #cleanair #trees #nature #nature_brilliance #naturephotography #greencities #slowliving #greenliving #travelhacks #hacks #travel #airbnb #airbnbitaly

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Sustainable Business

Nativa and The B Corp Movement

In Italy, the B Corp movement has been growing at a rapid rate. In 2016, they were the first European country to develop a new legal status called Società Benefit” (Benefit Corporation). This allows businesses to create a solid foundation for long term mission alignment and value creation that focuses beyond profit. It protects the mission through capital raises and leadership changes, creates more flexibility when evaluating potential sale and liquidity options, and prepares businesses to lead a mission-driven life post-IPO. This is important as it allows the social and environmental values of the organisation to become an integral part of the business, culture and practices rather than just a passion project of a leader. 

Read the full article here.

L.O.V.E Monument

This 36 foot middle finger monument was gifted to the city by one of Italy’s most famous contemporary artists, Maurizio Cattelan on the condition that it was positioned in the business district. It now stands out the front of the stock exchange The title is L.O.V.E which is an acronym for love, hate, vendetta, eternity in Italian. It has become a talking point for the city, with many government officials saying that it is a free artistic expression of the criticism towards the financial management that that led to the great crisis of 2008. As Milan becomes known for its contemporary art, this controversial monument has become a conversation starter. Clearing local employees in the business district do not like it, however the Government who permitted the installation believe it is an important way to express the previous economic issues through art.

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Sometimes a statue says a million words. 🖕🏻This 36 foot middle finger is eloquently positioned in front of the Stock Exchange in Milan. It was gifted to the city by one of Italy’s most famous contemporary artists, Maurizio Cattelan on the condition that it was positioned in the business district. The title is L.O.V.E which is an acronym for love, hate, vendetta, eternity in Italian. It has become a talking point for the city, with many government officials saying that it is a free artistic expression of the criticism towards the financial management that that led to the great crisis of 2008. Others say that artists should not have the power to express themselves this creatively in business and political domains. What do you think? Offensive? Empowering? Artistic? #art #activism #planetbinsights #contemporaryart #milan #activistart #love

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Overall

Milan exceeded my expectations with the culture, atmosphere and green spaces. I remembered it to be a bustling concrete jungle, however there were trees everywhere and a really chilled vibe. The food was great and the people were so passionate and proud of their culture. Learning of the Milanese Government’s plans for greening the city and building healthier and more sustainable food systems was definitely a highlight.

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