When Adriano Celentano sang Il ragazzo della Via Gluck at the Sanremo Music Festival, not everyone knew the details of his real story: he was born in via Gluck, when he was 13, in 1951, he moved with his family to Via Cesare Correnti, near Sant’Ambrogio. Now, along this street that then becomes Corso Genova leading to the Navigli, at number 11 you can’t miss, wedged between two buildings, a house dating back to 1272, the current home of the Teatro Arsenale. Originally it was a place of worship dedicated to Saints Simon and Jude, and it’s historically famous because in 1300 a famous Inquisition trial took place there, the one against Maifreda da Pirovano. Over time the church was annexed to the Collegio dei Calchi e dei Taeggi. Deconsecrated during the Napoleonic era, since 1810 it was subjected to numerous metamorphosis: from theater to dance hall, then deposit, then theater again – a puppet one – eventually it got back tobeing a place of worship and, since 1978, it has hosted the Teatro Arsenale.
If it hadn’t been demolished in the course of ‘900, in an attempt to improve traffic flow at the end of Via Cesare Correnti, along what was known as the street of San Simone (named after the eponymous former oratory, the aforementioned Teatro Arsenale), the Pusterla dei Fabbri, built in the fourteenth century, coinciding with the construction of the medieval walls by Azzone Visconti, would still be there. The building was developed on a single arch, surmounted by a square tower. Flanked by several new cave dwellings from buildings erected near the Naviglio, in the eighteenth century the pusterla was overlooked by a new building with doors connected by a balcony, one of the first typical social banister houses of Milan. Our journey through the history of this street continues, at number 15 in Via Cesare Correnti is a building with a plaque that commemorates the great composer Giuseppe Verdi, who lived there in 1839 and 1840, where he composed his first early works including Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio and Un giorno di regno.
Returning to the present day, this street in Milan hosts a beautiful space to visit and appreciate, the Botanical Center of Angelo Naj Oleari, who founded it in 1975 along with thirty other people including Milly Moratti, Claudia Mori and Adriano Celentano. The Center has three locations in the city – that of Via Vincenzo Monti has existed since 1972 and can boast of being the first organic shop in Italy – but this of Via Cesare Correnti is a new generation concept store, in which, beside the market where you can buy organic and biodynamic food (but also bio-ecological cosmetics and detergents, natural clothing), you can also find furniture, gardening tools and toys. There is a room dedicated to books and spaces for events, exhibitions, concerts, poetry readings and a wellness room where you can rejuvenate with natural treatments or seek advice from experts in homeopathy and naturopathy. Finally you can take a relaxing break at the Biobar, a small restaurant-cafe where you will find organic and macrobiotic cuisine and where raw food cooking classes are held.