As the world’s leading researcher on inspiration, Wunderman Thompson knows a thing or two about the psychological link between people’s value systems and their sources of inspiration to predict how humanity will be inspired. In Wunderman Thompson’s Inspire InFocus report, being outdoors in nature ranked number one as the top source of inspiration globally. Even though life is starting to “get back to normal”, many of our new habits formed during the pandemic, such as taking walks during work breaks or exploring nature in our own backyard, have endured.
As we yearn to move, connect, and get off a plane and stretch our legs, out of a conference hall into fresh air, leave the confines of a hotel room, or even take a walking meeting or lunch in a park vs. a restaurant, here are some ideas for the next time you find yourself in some of the most inspirational cities around the world, for business or pleasure.
Name: Andrea Galanti
Title: Creative Supervisor
City: Milan, Italy
I'm Andrea Galanti and I'm a creative supervisor at Wunderman Thompson Milan.
Before joining Wunderman Thompson, I worked at a few different agencies where I learned to do many different things, but across all of them, I found the best work were the campaigns that I could explain to my mother in no more than two sentences.
In our work, the challenge lies in using creativity to turn what might be ‘obvious’ to a few into something that can be ‘obvious’ to many. This can only be done by forgetting the ‘right way’ to do something, every day. Doing something for the first time, making a mistake, starting all over again can often be the biggest inspiration, because it helps you find new ways of doing things – inspiration hides in what we don’t know, so here are a few spots in Milan you might not know about to help you seek inspiration in nature.
Q> When do you find you crave inspiration in nature and where do you find it?
Andrea> Whenever I’m having a stressful day, I find that seeing something beautiful helps soothe some of that stress. Nature is there to remind us how our work should be done, in a simple, affective, and attractive way. It’s definitely a source of inspiration – even in a city like Milan which may seem far from nature. You just need to know where to look.
Q> Where is the best place to people watch in Milan?
Andrea> Caprilli Avenue. I’m pretty sure the feeling of walking alongside thousands of other people until you see San Siro’s stadium lights peeking out from behind the trees is something that’s difficult to replicate in other parts of the world.
Q> What's your favourite hike or walk?
Andrea> Milan offers many beautiful walks, but my favourite will always be the one that passes through Naviglio della Martesana
– mainly because you don’t even feel like you’re in Milan!
Q> What are some interesting natural attractions near your city that are worth checking out?
Andrea> I would go to Villa Litta. It’s a wonderful 16th-century villa set within a huge park where markets, concerts and cultural events are often organised. Inside is the Ninfeo
, an architectural complex in a Gothic style, where the most incredible feature is how it hides dozens and dozens of ‘water traps’. This means you literally can’t take a step or touch a column without activating a secret button which showers you in water. One of the splashes even activates a mechanical hen that lays golden eggs. Seriously! It’s nuts!
Q> Which season inspires you the most in your part of the world and why?
Andrea> The ideal temperature for me to function properly fluctuates between -10° and +10°, so the cold seasons are obviously my favourite.
But it’s not a matter of mere survival: I really believe that Milan is at its best in the winter. The city is more intimate, suffused, and reserved, as if it reconciles with its true “meneghina” soul and is finally able to breathe after the heat of the summer.
Q> What's your favourite park/botanical garden/body of water and why?
Andrea> It’s hard to pick one, but the one I’m most fond of is Parco Nord
. It's a gigantic park – measuring 640 hectares – crammed with woodland trails, bike paths and grassy expanses, where I literally spent half of my teenage years. It's the perfect place to fall asleep in the sun while letting the ideas whirl around your mind. Although, it's also the perfect place to wake up sunburnt or accidentally take a football to the face, so be careful where you take a nap in Parco Nord!
Above: Parco Nord Milano, photograph by Giorgio Groppi
Q> Anything else that might involve wildlife, especially critters or birds or a specific example of when you were inspired by nature?
Andrea> Not sure if it counts 100% as wildlife, but in the historic centre there is an Art Nouveau building, Villa Invernizzi, which has a garden where a colony of pink flamingos have flourished since the 1970s – not something you see every day in a city like Milan!
In that area there is also Palazzo dell’Edera
, which is a beautiful building covered in greenery. If places like that don't inspire you, I really don't know what will!
Q> And how about a quick day trip or weekend somewhere near your location?
That’s why I’ll recommend somewhere else: Rivolta D’Adda’s Prehistoric Park about a 30 minute drive from Milan. It’s a park immersed in the Lombard countryside where about 50 life-size statues of various dinosaurs and other threatening prehistoric animals have been installed, as well as an inexplicable but engaging Renaissance hedge maze. To increase the confusion, you will also find goats, ponies and peacocks roaming throughout the park. Van Halen shot a video there in 1982
, so I highly recommended it as somewhere to ignite those creative sparks.
Q> Best place for a run/swim or other form of exercise?
Andrea> Nothing against jogging, but my love for sports lies with basketball and in Milan, there’s no more iconic playground than the one in Parco Sempione
I also saw Kobe Bryant there once: you’ll understand that there is not much more to add.