Milan may not have the elegance of Florence or the beauty of Venice, but it is still a vibrant city where life is enjoyable. One of the main economic centers of northern Italy, but also one of the world’s fashion and design capitals, the capital of Lombardy has a lot to offer tourists. If you want to discover Milan and its many attractions, here are some suggestions to make the most of your stay!
Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and la Scala
Milan’s iconic monument with 135 spires and some 2000 statues, the Duomo is one of the largest cathedrals in the world. Its construction, which began at the end of the 14th century under the Viscontis, took more than five centuries! Don’t miss the huge terrace of the Duomo, which hosts exclusive shows and offers a breathtaking view of the Lombard capital. On a clear day, you can even see the Italian Alps. duomomilano.it
Just in front of the cathedral, Piazza del Duomo is a traditional meeting point for Milanese fauna, animated by numerous street shows. Adjacent to the piazza, the majestic Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery, inaugurated at the end of the 19th century, is home to many restaurants and cafes, but also to most of the big names in Italian high fashion.
Not far from the Duomo is the famous Scala di Milano, certainly one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. Tickets to attend an opera can be booked several weeks or even months in advance for some performances, and you should expect to pay at least 200 to 300 euros to get your precious ticket. However, you should know that La Scala also houses a museum, which is a bit ordinary, but which gives you the opportunity to admire the magnificent performance hall from a balcony. teatroallascala.org
Discover the Italian art classics
A stop at the Pinacoteca di Brera is a must for art lovers. In this museum of ancient and modern art you can admire works by Italian artists such as Raphael, Caravaggio, Tintoretto, Veronese, Bellini and Piero della Francesca. brera.beniculturali.it
But the main artistic attraction in Milan is none other than Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Last Supper (L’Ultima Cena). To see it, you must go to the Dominican convent adjacent to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Advance reservations are required to view this Italian Renaissance masterpiece for 15 minutes. Painted between 1494 and 1498, this painting represents the last meal shared between Jesus and his apostles. www.milan-museum.com
Castello Sforzesco and Parco Sempione
Built at the end of the 14th century by the Viscontis, then rebuilt in the middle of the 15th century by the Sforzas, the Castello Sforzesco was for a long time hated by the Milanese, perceived as an emblem of tyranny and foreign domination. It was only at the time of Italian unification that it became a symbol of the city. Today it houses many museums and various exhibitions and cultural events of all kinds. milanocastello.it Adjacent to the castle, you can take a walk or relax in the beautiful Sempione Park.
A true temple of design, the Triennale is home to mega exhibitions of industrial design and decorative arts that have been held every three years since the 1930s. Today, the building is an essential part of Milan’s cultural scene, organizing a multitude of events in the fields of art, design, architecture, fashion, cinema and communications. The Triennale also hosts a design museum and a theater. triennale.org
Le Quadrilatero de la Moda
The Quadrilatero de la Moda or Quadrilatero de Oro is the chic district of Milan where all the most prestigious and luxurious fashion boutiques are located. It is located between Via della Spiga (a pedestrian street), Via Manzoni, Via Sant’Andrea and Via Montenapoleone. In this mecca of high fashion, you will discover the latest trends and quickly empty your wallet, even if it is well-stocked! The nearest metro station is Montenapoleone.
Want to play the fashion victim? Take a trip to the concept store 10 Corso Como, located in the north of the city. Opened in 1991, this address is popular with Milanese for its selection of fashion, design, music, art and photography products. There is also a hotel, a restaurant, a bookshop and many art exhibitions. The concept has been emulated and exported to Asia (Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing). 10corsocomo.com
To relax after your shopping spree, not far from there is the trendy Ceresio 7 with its superb rooftop terrace with pools, bar and restaurant where it is good to be seen. ceresio7.com
For those on a more modest budget who still want to shop, Corso Buenos Aires, between Porta Venezia and Piazzale Loreto, is a street with a concentration of more commercial clothing stores.
The vibrant Navigli neighborhood
Located south of the city center, the Navigli district takes its name from the two canals that cross it: the Naviglio Grande and the Naviglio Pavese. A bohemian neighborhood popular with Milan’s youth, dotted with small stores and cafes, it is also the ideal place to go for a drink with friends. The terraces of its lively bars and its popular buffet restaurants are always full at the end of the day. If you like to bargain, on the last Sunday of the month, the Naviglio Grande is the scene of a big flea market.
A visit to Milan would be incomplete without a taste of Lombardy’s cuisine. If you only have a little time, go to Eataly Smeraldo, a gastronomic complex that brings together artisanal products from all over Lombardy on several floors. You’ll find wine, microbrewery beers, a pasta counter and food courts, among other things. Eataly has branches in several other cities in Italy and the concept has also spread to Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Dubai and Istanbul. eataly.net
If you prefer delicatessens, a visit to Peck’s is a must. Franz Peck moved to Milan from Prague in 1883, when he established his delicatessen. Today, Peck is the most famous delicatessen in Milan, a wine bar, a restaurant, and stores in Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea. peck.it
Gambero Rosso has listed two trattoria in Milan that are among the best in Italy. Osteria del Treno, near the central station, offers typical Lombardy cuisine: artisanal cold cuts, rabbit and goose specialties. osteriadeltreno.it Located in the southeast of Milan, a little on the outskirts, Un Posto a Milano is a restaurant, bar and guesthouse all in one. The specialty: goose in wine, accompanied by polenta! unpostoamilano.it
Finally, if you’re in the Navigli neighborhood, stop by Al Pont de Ferr, a Michelin star restaurant, but light years away from a snob restaurant. Excellent market cuisine, small tapas-style portions and an excellent selection of wines by the glass. pontdeferr.it
One last suggestion for soccer and calcio (Italian championship) lovers. A visit to the Guiseppe Meazza stadium, better known as San Siro, will allow you to discover the history of the two mythical clubs of Milan, AC Milan and Inter Milan. The entrance fee includes a visit to the stadium, the museum and even the right to take a penalty kick in front of young goalkeepers disillusioned by the fact that they have to let almost all the kids score!
To find more information to plan your trip and discover Milan, do not hesitate to consult the Milanese tourist office website: turismo.milano.it