Among Italians, Milan is widely considered the ugliest city in the country. It’s true the city’s industrial history and financial present have not left the cultural riches of Florence or Rome or Naples or Venice or even quaint, clean Turin farther north or gems like Verona to the east. Italy’s cities are a well-endowed family, culturally and aesthetically speaking, and Milan seems to be the ugly step-child that the others always bug for money.

But even if Milan doesn’t promise sights recognizable from your art history textbooks, all curved arches and gritty marble, it has its own angular charm. Ryan Neeven and Neil Watson of 10leaves cast their eyes about the leviathan of Lombardy in this No Man Walks Alone photo essay. It’s about to go down:

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Milan’s most recognizable sight is the Duomo, sitting like a porcupine in the middle of town.

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The Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II sits next to the Duomo. Its high arches recall Italy’s Renaissance glory, but it was built in the late 19th century, when Italian nationalism was ascendant. The arches welcome visitors into a shopping mall rather than a church.

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Surfaces in Milan seem more manufactured and shapes more square - much of the city was built in the early 20th century, with few buildings left from the Renaissance era.

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But modern architecture can have its own sensuality.

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And transcendence. 

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The small streets near the Duomo in the city center are more familiarly Italian.

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By the curbs you might find some chrome masterpieces. For the right price you can ride one out to a prettier town.

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