Style, fashion and finance are all focused on the elegant city of Milan. Classified as the economic engine of Italy, it is not usually listed in the most conventional tourist guides. However, beyond the chaos of the city centre, it offers real treasures and works of art that make it unique. Here are the 10 best places to visit in Milan, the capital of Lombardy.
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- First stop: Il Duomo
- A walk around Il Duomo: Galeria Vittorio Emmanuele and Palazzo Reale.
- The most famous opera in the world: Teatro alla Scala
- In the footsteps of Leonardo: The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
- Rossonero or Neroazurro?
- The literary mysteries of Palazzo dell’Ambrosiana
- Bohemian brushstrokes in the Via Brera and its art gallery
- Central Station and Pirelli building two icons of the Milanese character
- Volumes of history summed up in the bricks of Castello Sforzesco
- An escape to Lake Maggiore
First stop: Il Duomo
This will be the first question you’ll be asked when you return: Did you visit Il Duomo? If there is one indissoluble association, it is that of Milan and its impressive Gothic cathedral located in the square of the same name, the nerve centre of the city since the 19th century.
Inside Il Duomo you can enjoy a spectacular walk on the roof where you can see the superior architecture of the building with its more than 2,000 sculptures and its delicate marble spires, as well as unique views. It is one of the most beautiful architectural works to be seen in Milan.
A walk around Il Duomo: Galeria Vittorio Emmanuele and Palazzo Reale.
Very close to Il Duomo is the Galeria Vittorio Emmanuele II, which is distinguished by its filigree of Gothic lines, and its iron and glass vaults, typical of 19th century architecture. Under its incredible 47m high dome, the best cafes, restaurants and bookstores in the city enliven the space.
You can complete your visit by touring the Palazzo Reale, which has a neoclassical style, and get lost among the art collections offered by its Museum of Contemporary Art, which includes such outstanding names as Boccioni and De Chiricco. Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Milan if you are an art lover
The most famous opera in the world: Teatro alla Scala
Another of the main places to visit in Milan is Piazza della Scala, where the Teatro alla Scala, one of the most outstanding in the history of opera, is located. Although its austere neoclassical façade might seem an anodyne building, the interior is extraordinarily sumptuous with its horseshoe-shaped stalls, boxes and galleries lined with red velvet. For this visit it is key that you also enter the Museo Teatralle alla Scala, which will allow you access to the auditorium, the stage (the largest in Europe) and the boxes from where you can see the interior and the fantastic bohemian crystal chandelier.
In the footsteps of Leonardo: The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
Another important church building to see in Milan is the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, and especially the fresco of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, located in the convent’s refectory. When you are in front of it and you have recovered your breath notice the effect of false perspective that lengthens the room in an illusory way.
And once you have calmed down your desire to see the Italian painter’s masterpiece, walk around the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and let yourself be surprised by its sixteen-sided Lombard dome.
Rossonero or Neroazurro?
If you are a big football fan, watching a game at the San Siro stadium should be on your list of things to do in Milan. Whatever your team, AC Milan or Internazionale Milano, it will be a complete experience. F
or starters, it is a spectacular structure, but it also has a museum full of curiosities. And if this is not enough, you can always go to the Milanello Sports Centre where the Milan Lab is located or visit the Casa Milano.
The literary mysteries of Palazzo dell’Ambrosiana
For any lover of letters, visiting this palace and its Ambrosian art gallery, full of endless bookstores, will be a real pleasure, even more so knowing that among its shelves there is a copy of the 5th century Iliad and early editions by Dante, Virgil and Bocaccio. But in addition, among its jewels are drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci and a sketch by Raphael of his work The School of Athens.
Bohemian brushstrokes in the Via Brera and its art gallery
If, with all the things you have to do in Milan, you still haven’t forgotten about the homework that awaits you on your return from your holiday, it’s urgent that you take a walk along the Via Brera. This street is a real treat for the senses with its art shops, cafés and galleries always on the go. But the climax comes when you come across the Pinacoteca de Brera.
A gallery that has one of the best collections of paintings that you can see in northern Italy, with its figures from the Venetian school, or its outstanding paintings such as the Dinner at Erasmus de Caravaggio’s house.
Central Station and Pirelli building two icons of the Milanese character
Despite having completely different styles, the proximity of their location and their popularity have made these two structures into icons to be seen in Milan. Firstly, the central station built in 1925 with its eclectic style, located on the margins of the Liberty and Baroque. In front of it, a classic 60s pop: the Pirelli skyscraper, which raised the profile of the architect Pier Luigi for the genius of the project and the lightness of its elevation.
Volumes of history summed up in the bricks of Castello Sforzesco
Chance has granted us the luck that this brick quadrilateral is preserved to perfection and our proposal is that you take advantage of it. The construction of the Castello Sforzesco began in the 14th century and in the 15th century it was finally defined as a fortress, stripping it of its palatial character.
Besides its impressive walls you must also see the Sala delle Asse, decorated in fresco by Leonardo and visit the Capella Ducale which preserves its original paintings. Of course, don’t forget to take a chilling walk among the mummies and sarcophagi that are part of the Archaeology Museum located in the dungeons of the palace.
An escape to Lake Maggiore
Our last recommendation among the places to visit in Milan is an escape to the small and old fishing village of Isola Bella. Located one and a half hours from the Lombard capital, from there you can enjoy magnificent views of Lake Maggiore.
Isola Bella has become a real dream with its voluptuous gardens and its famous baroque style palace San Carlo de Borromeo. Its magical surroundings will daze your senses to such an extent that it will be almost impossible for you to return – you’ve been warned!
Have you been to Milan yet? If you haven’t, don’t think twice, book a hotel, escape for a weekend and enjoy dozens of places to visit in Milan.
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