Milan (Italian: Milano) is financially the most important city in Italy. It has the second most populous city proper in the country, but sits at the centre of Italy’s largest urban and metropolitan area. In essence, for a tourist, what makes Milan interesting compared to other places is that the city is truly more about the lifestyle of enjoying worldly pleasures: a paradise for shopping, football, opera, and nightlife. Milan remains the marketplace for Italian fashion – fashion aficionados, supermodels and international paparazzi descend upon the city twice a year for its spring and autumn fairs. Don’t get fooled by the modern aspect of the city, since it’s one of the most ancient cities in Europe with more than 26 centuries of history and heritage!
Here is Milan’s top 10. Have fun!
- Duomo – Milan’s Duomo, its main cathedral, is conveniently at the city’s center and well worth a visit. It is positively dripping in ornamentation, with more than 130 spires and 3000 statues. This church is the second-largest Gothic cathedral on earth. While it costs nothing to enter the cathedral, the audio-guides cost a few Euro as does a trip to the roof. In good weather, you can see for miles, and you also get to walk amongst some of the spires and statues. Modest dress is required to go inside the Duomo.
- Teatro alla Scala – La Scala is one of the most famous opera houses on earth. Any opera fan worth their salt will want to come home saying they saw an opera here, and even non-enthusiasts might enjoy a tour of the La Scala museum.
- Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper – This was once a dining hall in the church of Santa Maria della Grazie. Reservations to go in are required in advance.
- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – For the Milanese, shopping deserves a temple, and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is just that. Even if you are not a shopper, the people-watching is fantastic.
- Pinacoteca di Brera – This art gallery houses one of Italy’s nicest collections of paintings, and features primarily Italian artists from the 15th and 16th centuries. Highlights include Raphael’s “Marriage of the Virgin,” Mantegna’s “Dead Christ,” Francesco Hayez’ “The Kiss” and a Caravaggio “Supper at Emmaus.”
- Museo del Duomo (Duomo Museum) – If you loved the Duomo but did not always understand what was going on inside, or if you just want to see the original art that once graced the cathedral’s walls, head to the Museo del Duomo. You can get a discount on your entry ticket if you buy a combo ticket to the Museo along with a trip to the Duomo’s roof or treasury.
- Risorgimento Museum – This small and free museum is dedicated to Italy’s path to becoming a unified country, which is a relatively recent phenomenon.
- Castello Sforzesco – Milan’s castle dates from the 1300s and eventually became the home of the prominent Sforza family. Leonardo da Vinci himself lived here for a time as well. There is a series of museums in the castle now, including one which contains the Pietà Michelangelo was working on when he died.