So what are the things that you just can’t miss when visiting Milan?
Milan is a wonderful destination to spend a few days in, and enjoy the various cultural attractions it has to offer. Each different area of the city has its own magic, and anyone could explore the city according to his or her own taste. If your visit is short, or if you’re just interested in knowing the best spots to visit – read below to explore the best things to do in the city. Most of the top attractions are located in proximity to one another, so if you’re in a real rush – you may be able to explore them within a day or so, but it’s best to take your time and enjoy what the city has to offer.
Here we go:
This is the main cathedral of the city, and is the fourth largest cathedral in the world. It was built during the 14th century, with construction lasting over hundreds of years! This church is incredibly impressive, and is a beautiful sight at every hour of the day, and every season of the year. It is worth two separate visits during your stay – during the day and again during the evening hours. The Duomo is surrounded by a lovely wide square, and you’re welcomed to sit at the foot of the church, or at the large horseman statue of Vittorio Emanuele located in front it, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. The square is also surrounded by lovely cafes. When facing towards the cathedral, you can find a ticket office in the building to your right, in which you can obtain your subsidized ticket to enter the cathedral. With additional charge you can purchase an entry to the stairs or elevator and climb up to the roof of the church – a lovely, highly recommended experience that allows you to explore this beautiful structure. Upon reaching to the rooftop – you’ll be able to enjoy a marvelous observation point over the square below and the city of Milan.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, named after king Vittorio Emanuele the second, was built between 1865-1877, as part of an initiative to restore the city following its conquering from the Austrians. The gallert is constructed in the Neo-Renaissance style, in order to connect the Duomo square and the La-Scala opera house square. It is a magnificent structure to look at – with its glass domed roof, statues, decorations and mosaic floors. In addition, through the years it was established as a place of luxury with designer shops and haute couture fashion. You’ll be able to observe the latest displays of Gucci and Prada, with concierges standing at the doors of each store, and shopping assistants wearing fancy white gloves.
La Scala Theatre
The Galleria leads to the next square – Piazza La Scala. Here lies the famous opera house, built on the ruins of the Santa Maria Alla Scala church, from which it got its name. The theatre was constructed per the request of the city’s wealthy citizens, even before Italy was united and prior to the construction of the gallery. The structure of the theatre may not be very impressive on the outside, but on the inside it is filled with glory and splendor. It holds about 2000 seats, arranged in several floors, with boxes in each floor that seat several people. The theatre hosted the premieres of all the greatest operas in the world, and is considered the main theatre of the famous composer Giuseppe Verdi. Today tickets can be purchased in various locations at relatively reasonable prices. In addition, discounted tickets can be purchased on sale on the actual day of the show. Discounted or even free tickets are available for final dress rehearsals. Even if you don’t have the patience for full ballet or opera show, you can visit the theatre’s museum, which stores a big collection of photos, art and costumes related to the life of the opera. Details can be found on the theatre’s website.
Sforza Castle – Castello Sforzesco
Within short walking distance (about 15 minutes) from the La Scala square you’ll find this impressive fortress – a gigantic, ancient and glorious structure from the renaissance period, surrounded by magnificent gardens. The castle is named after Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, is considered one of the largest fortresses in the world and constitutes one of the most important symbols of Milan. Today it serves as a residence to 38 of the most important museums halls in Italy, that include a large collection of art from the medieval period to the 17th century, including works by Michelangelo (who also participated in designing the structure). Visitors can walk around the castle, or wander around its gardens (free of charge). Entering the museums (at a small fee) is recommended for those interested in art and history.
The castle website
Sempione Park – Parco Sempione
This large city park is essentially right next to the Sforzesco castle. It is a traditional European park – wide and evergreen, with a small pond, a bridge over it and some swans. There are many pleasant sitting areas, including a large café at its center. Bring some groceries or treats and have a perfect picnic at the heart of this urban nature.
For the shopping enthusiasts – no trip is complete without some exploring of the local goods. Though Milan can be expensive, it is very nice to shop in, especially if you like the common international clothing chains, such as Zara, Mango, Benetton etc. The shopping experience is very pleasant, and the selection is wide and varied. Inexpensive shopping can be done at the long street of Corso Buenos Aires. A similar shopping area, closer to the city center and the Duomo is the Torino street (Via torino). As of 2018 a new, roofed and modern shopping center, called City Life, has opened its gates. It is reachable by the purple M5 metro line. Stop by Tre Torri station and you’ll be able to enjoy inside and outside of this fascinating architectural structure, featuring fountains gushing up from the pavements (a cooling amusements for children on warm summer days). For doing some high-end luxurious purchasing, or for those of you who enjoy window-shopping, within a short walking distance from the Duomo you’ll find the gold quadrilateral (“Quadrilatero d’Oro), a shopping district featuring all the high-end Italian and international designers. One of the most noted streets is Via Monte Napoleone. Bringing with you a fat checking account is advised.
If you have some time and energy to spare, look up the following suggestions as well:
Naviglio Canals Area
Mainly the Ripa di Porta Ticinese street. Visiting this area gives a little taste of what being in Venice feels like, walking along the canals and among artistic shop, magical little courtyards and bohemian cafés. During the summer time you’ll be able to go on a nice boat sail, that leaves from the May 24th square (Piazza Ventiquattro Maggio).
Milan’s Main Cemetery
As it turns out – this cemetery is one of the most beautiful places in the city. Deceased celebrities and other citizens of Milan are buried here, with tombs surrounded by beautifully well-kept gardens. The cemetery has an especially interesting Jewish section, and you can ask for its location upon entering. The cemetery is located next to the renewed Isola area that has a variety of unusual restaurants and prominent student activity atmosphere. If you have some time to wander around, try to follow the interesting graffiti scattered over the walls.
Museums, Museums, Museums
There are so many note-worthy museums in Milan, but we’ll narrow it down to three:
two of them are right next to the Duomo.
The first is Palazzo Reale, located in the formerly royal palace. It features changing exhibitions, but they are always the best of their field. Click here to go to the museum’s website.
In addition, and right next to this museum, resides the 19th century Museum (Museo del Novecento). This is a relatively new museum, exhibiting Italian and international art from the 19th century. Click here to go to the museum’s website.
The third recommended museum is the Pinacoteca Di Brera, one of the most important galleries in Italy. It is located in a gorgeous 17th century palace, at the heart of the vibrant Brera district. The museum exhibits an enormous collection of Italian paintings and statues from as early as the 13th century all the way up to the 20th century. Artworks made by well-known artists such as Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens and many more have an honorable presentation here, as well as fascinating archeological findings. Click here to go to the Pinacoteca Di Brera website.
Milan has so much more to offer, but as promised – here we’ve presented the most notable experiences. Enjoy, arrivederci!
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