Milan is the business heart of Italy, it is the home of the stock exchange and the centre of the Italian fashion industry. It is a working city and not a living museum such as Venice, Florence and Rome. However under Milan’s frenetic surface lies a historic, beautiful, romantic and green city.
Leonardo (da Vinci not DiCaprio) spent a number of years in Milan working as an architect and engineer as well as an artist. It is in Milan where he created one his most important masterpieces, The Last Supper.
Milan is a perfect city break and is often overlooked, it’s also very close to the beautiful Italian lakes of Lake Maggiore and Lake Como if you want to explore further afield.
Here are our 5 places we visited in Milan, you could do them in a day but allow 2 days if you want a more leisurely trip and time to enjoy a nice lunch with a glass of wine or two.
Duomo di Milano
The Duomo de Milano is a wonderfully grand Gothic cathedral located in the centre of Milan, you can’t miss it. Try to go to the top to really appreciate the magnificent architecture and views. It does get busy so get there early to avoid queuing in the sun.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
If you are looking for a bargain or an Italian branch of Poundland then this place isn’t really for you. However, if you are looking for one of the world’s oldest and most elegant shopping malls then you will love the place. The Galleria has mosaic floors, an impressive arching glass roof and is filled with luxurious shops and cafés. All the usual suspects are here including Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Armani. Even if you haven’t got the money you can still spend an hour fantasy window shopping.
Piazza della Scala
Piazza della Scala is a pretty little square next to the famous La Scala opera house, in the centre is a statue of Leonardo da Vinci. The exterior of the La Scala building is not particularly impressive but inside is the important part, getting tickets is very difficult at short notice. The other buildings around the square are very elegant including the art museum which is worth a visit, the Gallerie d’Italia.
Sforza Castle is a grand red brick building which was originally a fortress. It now is the home of several museums and large grounds. One of the museums is the Museum Rondanini Pietà which contains Michelangelo’s last sculpture. The only down side are the the hawkers which hang out at the gates trying to con people into buying so called friendship bracelets. Just ignore them and don’t let them put anything on your wrist. We still don’t understand why the police and authorities allow this nonsense in such beautiful locations.
Santa Maria delle Grazie
Just another church in Milan. Maybe, but this church and Dominican convent got someone special in to do the interior. No not Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen but the genius, Leonardo da Vinci. In the refectory, he painted his famous masterpiece “The Last Supper”. You need to book tickets at least a few days in advance and you get 15mins to view the painting itself.
If you have any travel tips about Milan or the nearby Italian Lakes we would really appreciate it if you added them below, thanks Mel and Marcus.