There is no doubt this architectural marvel will be on a list of things to see and do in Milan. The Duomo is the most famous of Milan’s tourist attractions, and rightly so. It took centuries to build and after the latest restoration it looks as impressive as ever. Taking the audio guide tour of the interior is a treat and it is the best way to get the most out of your visit – be sure to check out the magnificent enormous stained-glass windows behind the choir. Do not miss a visit to the roof: take the elevator or stairs and enjoy the panoramic view of the city. The large square in front of the cathedral hosts concerts and other festivities.
Within walking distance from the Duomo, along the car-free shopping avenue of the Via Dante, lies the impressive castle of the Renaissance Sforzesco family who once ruled Milan. Today, it hosts a collection of civic museums and offers access to the large Sempione park so combines not one but two of the best places to visit in Milan. Meandering through the courtyards, you can admire the architecture and pop into different museums that exhibit, among others, Michelangelo’s Rondanini Pietà, Mantenga’s Trivulzio Madonna and boast ceilings painted according to designs by Leonardo da Vinci.
If you are planning to visit Sforzesco Castle, do not miss the adjacent Parco Sempione, opened in 1888 and designed by architect Emilio Alemagna who wanted this gorgeous green space to frame panoramic views of the stately home. Another of the most attractive things to see in Milan is the Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli, in the Porta Venezia district, home to the city’s Planetarium. It is the oldest patch of green in the city, established in 1784, and the Planetarium hosts a series of family-friendly guided tours of the starry night sky, starting in June.
Basilica of Saint' Ambrogio
Dedicated to the Patron Saint of Milan, Sant’Ambrogio is one of the oldest churches in the city and one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Italy. Its historical significance is second only to the Duomo cathedral. Exhibitions and other events occasionally take place in the atrium. Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio is perfectly preserved thanks to numerous restorations. The façade and interior arches are spectacular, and the golden mosaic that adorns the dome is simply sublime. Taking a metro of the green line (linea 2), get off at the stop of Sant’Ambrogio. The church is situated just right in front of the exit of the metro.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Considered the city drawing room – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – is an elegant meeting point, situated right next to the Milan Cathedral. Considered one of the sites of Milanese luxury shopping, it hosts many prestigious labels and brand shops, famous cafés and restaurants. Started in 1865, Europe’s oldest shopping mall connects the Milan Duomo to Piazza di Marino and the La Scala Opera House (Teatro alla Scala) by way of a bright and airy, four-story center lined with busy restaurants and shops. It is possible to reach the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II using the M1/M3 and getting off at the Duomo stop.
Santa Maria delle Grazie
This church is included on the UNESCO World Heritage list and is certainly worth a visit if you have a few days in Milan. The Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, Il Cenacolo, is located in the refectory of the monastery next to the Santa Maria delle Grazie church, not far from city centre. Reservation for last supper is compulsory, tickets cannot be bought on the day. The best way to get in is to book one of the available city tours or guided visits, as these have pre-arranged tickets. Be aware that visitors are only allowed in for 15 minutes, in small groups. Finally, do not miss the church itself for its beautiful Renaissance architecture, frescoes and paintings.
Milan is a fantastic,
vibrant and unique city to visit in Europe.
You have just got to know what not to miss in Milan...
Brera Art Gallery
Set in one of the most charming city neighbourhoods, the Pinacoteca di Brera is considered as one of the most popular art collections in Europe; not to be missed are the magnificent works by Mantegna, Raphael, Bellini, Piero della Francesca, Caravaggio and Hayez. The gallery’s website offers a virtual view of what there is on display, and there are multilingual audio guides available. Closed on Mondays. Brera district is without a doubt the prettiest part of the city. Brera is rich in history, art and culture. Dotted with shops, showrooms and trendy galleries, this area is home to Milan’s design district and a popular destination for students of the Academy and those seeking out a bohemian setting for enjoying a drink or to go shopping.
Teatro alla Scala
Teatro alla Scala or simply ‘La Scala’ is Milan’s glorious opera house that is one of the most beautiful in Europe. Since 1778, the operas and ballets at La Scala have provided bright emotions for enraptured audiences; its famous stage has hosted the greatest artists – from Arturo Toscanini to Claudio Abbado and the magnificent voice of the iconic Maria Callas. La Scala’s season runs from early December through July. You can also see theatre, ballet and concerts here year-round (except August). Buy tickets online or by phone up to two months before the performance, or from the central box office.
Ambrosiana Art Gallery
Erected on the remains of an old Roman forum and located just a short distance from the Duomo, the Ambrosiana Art Gallery exhibits Italian works from the 14th to the 20th century. For the Ambrosiana Art Gallery, it is wise to book tickets in advance online. Here you will find works on display from Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Brueghel, Titian, Caravaggio and Raphael, plus an interesting library with the Codex Atlanticus of Leonardo and a Virgilius manuscript.
One of the most up-and-coming parts of Milan, is an art lover’s haven. The area is an absolute must-visit location for everyone who loves art and enjoys exploring small galleries. A welcome alternative to the slicker style associated with the fashion-obsessed centre, the bohemian canals are lined with pavement cafés, vintage shops and the occasional gallery Naviglio Grande has been transformed into an especially lively part of the city that is home to up-and-coming restaurants, independent cafes and outstanding art galleries promoting local talent, and hosts a popular antiques market on the last Sunday of every month. This is the perfect place to sit and enjoy the sunset over the city of Milan while enjoying an aperitif in one of the many stylish bars. The breathtaking views of the canal will long be remembered.
An innovative housing complex is being erected in the district that once hosted the city trade fair north-east of Milan. CityLife, with its modern aesthetic and functional style, provides commercial, entertainment and service facilities that makes the complex a vibrant area and provide round-the-clock amenities. Thanks to the new Metro line 5 stations it will also be well served by public transport links. CityLife, encircling a large public park of 170,000 m2, is a completely pedestrianised area, the largest car-free zone in Milan and one of the most extensive in Europe; traffic and parking are at basement levels only. It can also boast being a zero-emission neighbourhood without gas-fired boilers or other sources of combustion. The park will be a green lung that will integrate with the existent parks in the north-west area of the city contributing to the oxygenation of the air and restoring the balance of the urban environment.
Porta Nuova District
Milan’s state-of-the-art architecture and its vibrant nightlife scene come together amongst the skyscrapers of Piazza Gae Aulenti and Corso Como – the perfect place for gazing in awe at the Vertical Forest and enjoying a happy hour with friends. Initiated in 2009, the urban-renewal project – devised by a team of internationally-renowned architects – comprises the area between Porta Garibaldi, the Isola district and the former Porta Nuova railway station, redesigning the area creating a myriad of buildings with different functions: offices, commercial and residential spaces. A pedestrian system of gardens, piazzas, footbridges and bike paths links all the zones.
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