Discovering Sant'Ambrogio: a taste of elegance and tradition
Every city in Italy, from the little villages all the way to the large metropolis like Milan, has a Saint Patron, who is supposedly and historically bound to the city as a protector. Saint Ambrogio is, as a matter of fact, Milan’s Patron: he is celebrated on December 7th, when the whole city stops and spends some time with the family to savor the beginning of Christmas time. To Sant’Ambrogio is also entitled a beautiful Basilica, around which a neighbourhood filled with wonders and historical landmarks stretches in every direction, from Via San Vittore, where our RELSTAY accommodation is located, to Corso Magenta on the Northern side of the area. Let us walk you through the land of Sant’Ambrogio, where history and tradition meet the younger generations thanks to the famous Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, which has its main buildings right attached to the Basilica.
The History: Meet Sant’Ambrogio, the Patron of Milan
Aurelio Ambrogio lived in the latest era of the Roman Empire, when discrepancies between Catholics and Pagans were starting to divide many of the Roman provinces. He was soon appointed governor of Milan, and not many years later he gained the title of Bishop even though he hadn’t been born Catholic. He was described as humble, kind and devoted to the Church, to the point that he defended the Christian faith from the heretics, severely punishing and secluding them. Many legends and myths have Sant’Ambrogio as their protagonist: one recounts a time when he recognized one of Christ’s crucifixion nails while he was walking near a metalworker shop; an other tells the story of a bee swarm flying over him as a baby without touching him; there’s even one that sees him fighting the devil next to a marble column placed outside of his Basilica, where people say you might smell sulfur coming from the depth of hell even today.
On the 7th of December the people of Milan still celebrate their Patron: offices are closed for the day and children are home from school, so families usually spend time together, going to Mass or joining one of the best annual festivals in town, the Oh Bej Oh Bej, a famous Christmas market. On this day, the Teatro La Scala also has its opening night, therefore it’s a tradition to attend the first show of the season.
Landmarks you can’t forget to visit
Located on the Easter side of the city, this neighbourhood has a rich artistic and cultural heritage and we are here to make a list of a few fundamental stops to make!
- We already mentioned the great Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio, and of course we believe it’s worth a visit! Built in the 12th century, this brick medieval church has two bell towers and its interior is decorated with 18 elegant columns. The Basilica is open to tourists Mon-Sat from 10am to 12pm and from 2:30pm to 6pm and it’s free of charge. You can also visit the church on Sunday from 3pm to 5pm. For more info visit the website: https://www.basilicasantambrogio.it/la-basilica/ (ITALIAN ONLY)
- Don’t miss the Colonna del Diavolo, located right outside the Basilica on the edge of Piazza Sant’Ambrogio. Do you remember the myth? This is exactly that marble column! Try and smell it: do you sense the scent of hell?
- Just a few steps East from Sant’Ambrogio, you’ll find one of the best museums in town: the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia, which offers a great variety of tech and science-related temporary and permanent exhibitions. Opening hours vary depending on the season and booking tickets is highly recommended. Find out more on the museum at this website: https://www.museoscienza.org/en
- On the other side of Sant’Ambrogio, you’ll probably notice a bunch of students coming and going: this is because Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, one the most famous private universities in the whole country, is nearby. Savor its Catholic roots and walk through its cloister where history, education and research meet to influence young minds. Find out more about the University at its website: https://www.unicatt.eu
- If you come to Milan there’s one thing you can’t forget to visit: Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. The famous fresco is located in the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which is free and open Mon-Sat 9-12:20/15:30-17:50, Sun 16-17:50. For more info on the Basilica, visit the website https://legraziemilano.it/contatti/ (ITALIAN ONLY). Nevertheless, in order to see the painting you need to book your ticket through the museum of the “Cenacolo” website at this link, where you’ll also find some useful information about prices and reductions: https://cenacolovinciano.org/en/info/
Let’s get some food in there!
While this neighbourhood is mostly known for its historic and cultural landmarks, there are many places you can stop at for a quick meal or a more structured lunch and dinner. Here are a few suggestions:
- You’re craving an international-styled breakfast? Hygge Corner offers savory as well as sweet choices, with the option of making your meal a whole brunch. For a more traditional cup of cappuccino and a “crostatina”, we suggest a stop at Leonardo Pasticceria.
- Truck food meets tradition at Zibo – Cuochi Itineranti, a vibrant “osteria” born only a few years ago and turned into an actual restaurant in 2017. Fresh stuffed pasta, fried snacks and sandwiches are all homemade and super fresh. For a quick lunch you can opt for a slice of pizza at Crumb Snack & Cafe, a cheaper but tasty choice that won’t disappoint.
- For a more sophisticated and elegant meal, we recommend booking a table at Ristorante Bianca, where you’ll have an excellent fish and seafood menu from appetizers to main courses. Remember: oysters are their specialty! Furthermore, combine interior design together with great gourmet food, and you’ll obtain Bistro Aimo e Nadia, where the Italian culinary experience is accompanied with elegant furniture and avant-garde pieces of art.
- Drinks, food, live music and lots of history: this is what you’ll find at Bar Magenta, which was established in 1907 and represents a true institution. Similarly, Pasticceria San Carlo, an elegant and chic historic place in Milan, has offered pastries and served “aperitivo” to locals since the 50s.
Where to sleep? With us of course!
With RELSTAY, you can sleep right in the heart of the Sant’Ambrogio neighborhood in our conveniently located accommodation. Right on Via San Vittore, only a few steps from the M2 metro station, we offer a cozy one bedroom apartment with fast and unlimited free WiFi, a well equipped kitchen and a washing machine, which will give you hotel-like comforts in a home-like environment.
The RELSTAY experience is unique and grants high quality standards and amenities. With contactless digital self check-in and check-out and 24/7 real time assistance, you won’t have to worry about anything.
What are you waiting for?
Come and discover this vibrant district and book a RELSTAY stay!