Among one of the most important (and majestic) Gothic buildings in the world, the church, constructed on and off over a period of 450 years (begun in 1386) is the symbol of Milan. Built in the shape of a Latin cross, the cathedral is divided by soaring pillars into five naves, the largest of which measures 45 metres in height. It has 135 spires and its inside columns measure 3 and a half metres in diameter. To experience the Duomo at its most majestic you must ascend to the roof (either by elevator or by steps) where you will be surrounded by an outburst of pinnacles, turrets and marble statuary and, naturally, the city’s famed golden “Madonnina”. The Cathedral is open daily 7am-7pm. Admission free.
The convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie hosts one of the most famous masterpieces of Renaissance art in Italy: Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. This is a large mural painting in which Christ announces that he will be betrayed by one of his apostles. Leonardo began to work on the Last Supper in 1496 and completed it in 1498. The somewhat lengthy time spent on the painting reflects the meticulous attention that he dedicated to his works. In fact, he experimented with an innovative pictorial technique. Rather than hastily applying a mixture of colours and water to fresh plaster, the usual technique for frescoes, he used a medium with oil and tempera which allowed him to paint not only more slowly but also directly on the wall. Unfortunately, his chosen medium doomed the painting to fade and peel, thus compromising its state of conservation. Leonardo also introduced significant innovations into the layout of the scene. In fact, for the first time in the history of art, all thirteen diners are seated on one side of a rectangular table. The central figure is Christ while the Apostles are divided up, symmetrically, into four groups of three, a representation that makes the scene even more lively and dramatic.
Castello Sforzesco was originally a Visconti fortress and later home to the mighty Sforzas, the rulers of Milan, who transformed it into a magnificent ducal palace, thought to have been decorated by several of the greatest artists of the times including Donato Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci. Trasformed into a military complex during four centuries of foreign occupation and subsequently used as the barracks of the Italian army, at the end of the 19th century the Castle was restored by architect Luca Beltrami who turned it into the headquarters of Milan’s Civic Museums. Today the Castle sits in all of its glory in the eponymous square with its 70m-tall “Torre del Filarete” and a number of majestic circular keep-towers. Parco Sempione can be accessed through its regal courtyards, the Corte grande, the Rocchetta and the Corte ducale. Inside the complex, in addition to the splendid collections of ancient and modern art and richly decorated furnishings, you can also admire Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini and the Sala delle Asse featuring an amazing vault decorated with frescoes designed by Leonardo da Vinci (currently undergoing restoration). Nowadays, “Il Castello” houses a number of libraries and the following museums: Museum of Ancient Art, Furniture Museum, Picture Gallery, Museum of Decorative Arts, Museum of Musical Instruments, Museum of Prehistory and Proto-history and Egyptian Museum.
Situated in the centre of Milan, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is an extraordinary feat of architecture, an emblem of Milanese identity featuring a meld of beauty, art and luxury under an amazing glass roof.To celebrate the Unification of Italy, between 1865 and 1867, Milan built the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, named after the first king of Italy. The architectural work of this stunning arcade, which serves as a passageway between piazza del Duomo and piazza della Scala, boasts a blaze of marble, stuccoes and mosaics and is dominated by an amazing iron and glass dome standing fifty metres high. Its centre – the socalled “Ottagono” – is surmounted by imposing mosaics representing different parts of the world (Africa, America, Asia and Europe) to celebrate the centrality of the city in the world’s global economic and cultural system. One of the oldest trade centres in the world, from the time that it was built the Galleria became a city favourite for evening strolls, a place of demonstrations and a meeting point for the Milanese bourgeoisie, artists, academics and musicians, including Giuseppe Verdi and the Futurists. Following its inauguration, dozens of elegant shops opened under its vaults. So much more than a shopping arcade, it exudes an air of luxury and is lined with boutiques, a seven-star hotel, landmark restaurants and cafés, including Savini, Camparino and Biffi. From may 2015 it’s also possible to access the walkway of the Galleria named “Highline Galleria”. After ascending to the upper spaces via two lifts and crossing a terrace, it will be possible to access the walkway, admire the stunning rooftops, the Duomo spires and the city’s skyline.
GAM Milan, Galleria d’Arte moderna di Milano, contains nearly 2.700 paintings and 700 sculptures created by some of the most internationally renown artists and sculptors. This art gallery, inaugurated in Milan in 1921, is above all a nineteenth century museum hosting mainly Italian and French works of art. With the beautifully elegant Villa Reale and its magnificent English garden in the background, GAM Milan is a remarkable sight to see both inside and out.
The San Siro Stadium with a capacity of 80.018 seats all covered in its three tiered structure is the largest stadium in Italy and the fourth in Europe. It is the home stadium of two of the three most successful Italian Football League clubs: A.C. Milan and F.C. Internazionale. It also has a gift shop and a Museum displaying all kinds of historic items from both Milan’s and Inter’s past.
San Siro owns the first Museum in Italy located in a stadium. Inside, an exclusive exhibition displays all kinds of historic items from both Milan’s and Inter’s past and tells their history through a great number of memorabilia which entered into the Worldwide football legend.
For football enthusiasts, the San Siro Store is located inside the Stadium and offers a complete range of official Inter and Milan products. Don’t miss the guided stadium tour which gives you a chance to sit in VIP seats and visit each of the home teams’ locker rooms, the grandstands and the interview room with the opportunity to appreciate one of the most fascinating sport facilities in the world.
The Navigli are a widespread network of canals whose history is linked to Leonardo da Vinci. An artist and an engineer, during his time in Milan from 1482 to 1499 he found fertile ground for his genius: in fact, he studied this sophisticated system of navigable canals to ferry people and merchandise to Milan, to irrigate the fields and to defend the city – that made Milan a real “city of water”. The so-called “Conca di Viarenna” is what remains today of one of the 5 canal locks used to navigate through Milan from the Darsena to the Naviglio Martesana, north of Milan. The basin of the Darsena, the old mercantile port of the city and a node of the vast fluvial system of Navigli canals now almost entirely covered, extends between viale Gabriele d’Annunzio and viale Gorizia. Today, the area is bursting with trendy dining and nightlife spots, various markets full of fresh and local items and is even home to one of the main hubs of the “Milanese movida”.
Pinacoteca di Brera (Brera Art Gallery) is one of the most important museums in Milan. Its permanent collections offer a wealth of exceptional Italian and foreign masterpieces including Mantegna’s “Dead Christ”, Raphael’s “Marriage of the Virgin”, Caravaggio’s “Supper at Emmaus” and “The Kiss” by Hayez. The Pinacoteca di Brera isn’t just a phenomenal art gallery, it plays a second role as an educational institution offering various performances, lectures, and events open to the public.
For over two centurIes, a hallowed temple of Milanese music and opera. Designed by Giuseppe Piermarini and inaugurated in 1778, Teatro alla Scala was recently totally refurbished under the supervision of the renowned architect, Mario Botta. Today the theatre is recognized as one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world and offers seasonal events including choral and orchestral works. Out-of-season events are also often organized by private institutions and foundations.
The Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio is one of the most historic basilicas in Milan. Built under St. Ambrose (the patron saint of Milan) between 379-386 A.D., the church is a wonderful example of Romanesque style. Composed primarily of brickwork, the Basilica has been through multiple restorations. Today, the Basilica of Saint Ambrose’s crypt is home to final resting place of the patron saint which is located in an area where numerous martyrs from roman times have also been buried called the “Tesoro di Sant’Ambrogio”. It is a rich prestigious exhibit of goldsmith artefacts and other objects of high artistic and religious value dated from 13th to 19th century.
As one of the youngest museums in the city, lying adjacent to the Duomo, the Museo del Novecento hosts more than 400 20th century masterpieces of Italian and international art.
Ranging from Pellizza da Volpedo to Carrà, De Chirico, Fontana, Picasso, Matisse and Kandinskij, to mention just a few, some of the most prolific artists are exhibited at the Museo del Novecento in the recently refurbished Palazzo dell’Arengario, a building where works of art interact with the city engaging with the past while looking towards the future.
Milan’s New Children’s Museum, is of the same opinion as artist and designer Bruno Munari,“Playing is a serious pastime!”. Since 1995, despite not having a stable location, the museum has organized 13 large exhibition-workshops all dedicated to children and the relationship between playtime and art. On January 24th 2014, it has found a new home in one of the city’s most evocative, interesting spaces…the Rotonda della Besana. This new location with a space of about 1.200 square meters includes a bar, a bookshop, an exhibition space, workshop areas and a “Happy Popping” corner. Throughout the year, it offers a variety of interactive play-oriented exhibitions consisting of installations created thanks to the contribution of artists. These experiences are targeted at stimulating creative thought, giving children a chance to learn and experiment through play. Children are accompanied by specialized educators who encourage the cognitive processes that are activated during the play experience.
Milan, unlike New York, does not have its own Central Park or any huge green area where everyone meets. To make up for this, however, Milan boasts more than 80 public gardens, both large and small, many of them rich in history and all of them loved by the public. Listing them all would be nearly impossible so we have decided to choose a few that have some special feature we know you will enjoy.
The greatest concentration of archaeological sites and landmarks of the ancient Roman Milan city can be found in the areas of Cairoli, Cordusio, Duomo, Cadorna, Sant’Ambrogio and Porta Genova. With an itinerary designed solely for pedestrians, from via S. Giovanni sul Muro, where the old city walls stood, to one of the most significant Roman Milan landmarks, the former location of Emperor Massimian’s palace which featured thermal baths and a circus can be found between via Torino and corso Magenta in proximity to the archaeological excavations happening near via Brisa.
Milan’s Roman Theater, built during the reign of Emperor Augustus (31 B.C-14 A.D), stood in the heart of the imperial city. According to historical documentation it remained in use until the 4th century A.D., serving, in the centuries that followed, as the fulcrum of public life in Milan. Today, the Roman Theater’s remains are housed in Milan’s Chamber of Commerce and can be visited by appointment only at Palazzo Turati, formerly the historic premises of the organization.
The traditional Panettone Milanese was originally a big bread, which before cooking a cross would be made with a knife, as a sign of blessing. The big bread was then consumed by the family solemnly reunited for the traditional ceremony of Christmas.
When it comes to fashion Milan is one of the world's most important capitals, especially for its role within the prêt-à-porter category of fashion. The “Milanese” fashion style born at the end of seventies and since 1979 the Italian Fashion Capital hosts two fashion weeks every year, in Spring and in Autumn.
Even if originally the Italian design took inspiration from the Parisian couture, it soon developed its own approach, which was by nature devoted to the quality of the fabric, soberness and simplicity.
From then on Milan has been home to numerous fashion designers, including Giorgio Armani, Valentino Garavani, Gianni Versace, Gianfranco Ferrè, Miuccia Prada, Krizia, Moschino, Etro, Trussardi, Missoni and Dolce & Gabbana.
History is everywhere at Monza, which has been hosting the Italian Grand Prix since the 1920s. The old, banked oval track is still visible near the Monza circuit used today. The 5.7-kilometer, or 3.5-mile, circuit has four long straights where speeds can reach 340 kph or more. The circuit, which every year hosts the Italian Grand Prix, is also known as “La Pista Magica,” and the Italian fans, or “tifosi”, who flock to the circuit are as legendary as the home Ferrari team that they worship.
Monza, 15 kilometers north of Milan, is the third-largest city in Lombardy and an economic, industrial and administrative center with textile and publishing industries. It has a population of more than 120.000 and is a cross between a suburb and a small provincial town. In its long history, Monza was subject on and off to rule from Milan, but it is now the capital of the Monza and Brianza Province and is surrounded by many other small towns — including Desio, Lissone and Arcore — and filled with restaurants, shopping areas and residential neighborhoods.
Evidence of human inhabitation in the area goes back to the Bronze Age. It is primarily known, however, for its Romanesque-Gothic Duomo of Monza and the royal park in which the racetrack is located. The park was created in 1777 along with a royal villa for Archduke Ferdinand of Austria. Twice the size of Central Park in New York City, it is one of the biggest urban parks in Europe.
But for the world-travelling Formula One fan, the greatest tourism asset aside from the race and the historic track is that it is only a short train or car ride — about 20 minutes — from Milan. Mixing the race with opera, nightlife, fine dining, fashion or museums is thus a main event at the Italian Grand Prix.
Bergamo is a medieval hilltop town that has been highly influenced by Venice style in an artistical and architectural way. Bergamo is divided into upper and lower town - Bergamo Alta - the hilltop medieval city - and Bergamo Bassa - the lower city with the modern center. Founded on a hill by a very old settlement in the protohistoric age, the highlights you will see are Piazza Vecchia, Palazzo del Comune and Palazzo della Ragione. The city hosts the Orio al Serio airport which regularly welcomes many tourists who want to visit Milan and the surrounding area.
The Certosa di Pavia is a monastery and a complex, situated near a small town of the same name in the Province of Pavia, 8 km north of Pavia. Built in 1396-1495, it was once located on the border of a large hunting park belonging to the Visconti family of Milan, of which today only scattered parts remain. It is one of the largest monasteries in Italy. Certosa is the Italian name for a house of the cloistered monastic order of Carthusians founded by St. Bruno in 1044 at Grande Chartreuse. Though the Carthusians in their early centuries were known for their seclusion and asceticism and the plainness of their architecture, the Certosa is renowned for the exuberance of its architecture, in both the Gothic and Renaissance styles, and for its collection of artworks which are particularly representative of the region.
It is situated on the borders of Piedmont, Lombardy and Switzerland and very close to the Alps. It is the second largest lake in Italy, after the Garda Lake. It is a relict of the wealthy patrimony which was lead by the Borromeo family. Arona and Stresa are beautiful cities along the lake and the mountains. Arona is wellknown for the big statue of San Carlo (known as San Carlone) who was born there. You can visit the statue climbing inside, arriving to the panoramic terrace with a breathtaking view of the Lake. Stresa is a small and pictoresque town along the lake and offers a stunning atmosphere. It is a place with lots of green areas like gardens, palms and flowers. It provides a beautiful view over the lake and the Borromeo Islands (Isola Bella, Isola Madre, Isola dei Pescatori). Stresa gives an awesome panorama situated between mountains and the lake. There is a cable railway up in the mountains used to bring tourists to the near ski area in winter, to give them the chance to see the town from above and get an even better and unforgettable impression. The Borromeo Islands are worth to see with their long and important history. The Lago Maggiore offers a mild climate with a lush vegetation which make this area a favourite destination for tourists. Cities are connected through ferries and motor boats lines so that visitors can have a great view on the lake.
The Lake of Como is another beautiful lake located very close to Milan. By the slowest train it just takes an hour to reach the lake from the city. It is also called “the star with the three points” because of its shape. There is the savage and pure Coloco’s branch, the natural jewel represented by the Lecco’s branch and the refined and elegant Como’s branch. The lake area offers a mild climate and you will have the chance to seat on a park bench and enjoy the quiet environment and the beautiful view. Since the Renaissance this area has been a famous holidays destination, especially for poets, writers and philosophers. One of the most picturesque places is Bellagio, the pearl of Lake Como, is in a beautiful setting where the three branches of Lake Como come together. It's easy to get to by ferry or bus from other cities on the lake.