It used to be said that Milan offered scant green spaces in the midst of its industrial roots and business-oriented horizon, but today this is far from true. In recent years the city has made a concerted effort to expand its eco-friendly posturing, a movement which has been wholeheartedly embraced by the Milanese, from the institutional crowd toting purse-sized dogs to the artsy hipster crew. There is a sense in which the elegance that characterizes the city seeks airing-out, and even that must be done in style; what better place than within the eyeline of the civic castle or in the shadow of an ancient basilica? Milan's network of parks includes a grand total of 54, spread out across the city, as well as more than 20 splendid gardens and a smattering of undefined green spaces replete with gazebos and kiosks. In this town even hints of the rural have a backstory; hiding just over the next dip in the footpath there is sure to be a monument to Napoleon, a historic villa, or an unlikely bar serving up the best caffé macchiato in town.
As in all other areas of its urbanity, Milan's greenery is also looking to the future. Just steps from Porta Garibaldi train station, the Porta Nuova neighborhood boasts the Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest), a pair of residential towers hosting over 900 trees on the balconied exterior of sleek modern structures. The Expo 2015 has the city buzzing with talk of sustainability, agro-innovation, and waste reduction. It seems Milan's sub-heading as 'the city of hidden gardens' is more than a quaint reference to lush private courtyards; the culture of greenery is emerging and expanding from parks to broader policy.