I am often asked for recommendations of places in Milan, both as photographic subjects and settings. Many of the inquirers are looking for the must-see places – those that are in the tourist guides and every visitor deems mandatory. That bucket list of landmarks are the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele + the luxury fashion streets nearby (via Montenapoleone and via Della Spiga), the Sforza Castle and Arco della Pace. And indeed, they are spectacular and also within a limited perimeter, so one can cover them within a day. But unless you have a specific idea in mind or a lot of time to find it, these pictures will look just like everyone else’s.
Is that wrong? Of course not. I firmly believe that photographing landmarks that everyone else has checked off is not just a rite for tourists but also an act of communion for all of us. By photographing them, we stand in the same place and look to experience the same connection that so many others have done as well. We are not looking for originality or photographic recognition but belonging and sharing. Photographing in general is relating to one’s subject matter, so it’s totally legitimate to do what everyone else has already done.
However, if you have checked those off your list and want to experience some less-known places, here is what I recommend.