A map of Milan's green areas. Not just the phisycal city location of greenery, of old, recent or planned parks, gardens, forests, protected farmland; rather, this is a history of these stretches of land, ranging in size from the small, green patch all around the historic Cassina de' Pomm to the ring-shaped protected area surrounding Milan, called the Parco Agricolo Sud Milano. Often times, this story tells us about people and events that are related to the aristocratic, then bourgeois, then administrative and finally real estate developments in the milanese metropolis; starting in the mid-16th century, when a widowed countess devoted her time, her palace and finally her garden to the upbringing of young aristocratic ladies who had an opportunity to meet their would-be spouses in the park during holidays: a private garden opened up to public use.
Since then, from the Giardino della Guastalla, we have now reached an extension that the City of Milan estimates to cover 20,600,000 square metres of greenery, including sports areas, parking lots and cemeteries, considering that these green patches are also part of city life. Actual parks and gardens cover 14,000,000 square metres, i.e. about 10 sqm. per inhabitant. In the early 1970s, Antonio Cederna wrote a piece on the Corriere della Sera complaining about the serious lack of greenery in the industrial city, with only 2-3 sqm of green areas evailable per Milanese citizen. This book - promoted by AIM and edited by a working team comprinsing teachers from the Politecnico University side-by-side with professionals, young researchers and experts - aims both at illustrating the design guidelines of green areas at different moments in time, and at relating a more detailed account of historic, economic and design events that prompted the creation of a public garden, of an urban park or of a large city-border park from time to time. Overall about 50 green areas have been recorded, plus a dozen more projects that have either been approved or are being built to create new green areas, often in the new urban developments of the "changing city", a city that is trasforming both its skin and its body by redeveloping abandoned industrial areas to create new integrated neighbourhoods equipped with housing, service, leisure time and recreational facilities. The forewords to the book and to each historic chapter cast an eye also outside the boundaries of the metropolitan area, so as to highlight the care, sensitivity and practical plans that originated from Milan and its political and ruling class and extended from the central city to the rest of the Lombardy region - which became a land endowed with large protected green areas, enhanced and reserved for renewed enjoyment by the urban dwellers.