As in major cities all over the world, most of Milan's residents live in apartments. The old ones are in buildings constructed around a hidden central courtyard and the apartments' focus is inwards. More modern apartments have generous balconies which face outwards to the street. Some of the grander old blocks have both the traditional linked verandahs around the central courtyard and fancy balconies on the street side.
A typical residential street in Milan, with typical colours and architectural styles.
Many buildings are a dark iron rich red brick, others are stuccoed and painted in lemon yellow or terracotta pink.
The 'Vertical Forest', an award winning apartment complex, photographed from the tram.
The Bosco Verticale, or 'Vertical Forest' is one of the the latest additions to Milan's housing stock. The complex is a pair of towers, with balconies planted with nearly a thousand trees, five thousand shrubs and over ten thousand other plants. The purpose of the planting is to combat pollution, regulate temperature and to provide sound insulation for the apartments. The occupants of the towers do not have to be gardeners. They pay a monthly fee to take care of all that.
An older and rather grand apartment building.
The Bosco Verticale is tapping in to an existing tradition in Milan. Virtually every balcony has a well cared for selection of greenery. Flowers are rarely used, nor are they are feature of public plantings in the streets. But the variety and exhuberance of foliage plants in the city is striking.
A contender for the lushest balcony in Milan I reckon.