Mesmerising Milan, bursting to the seams with amazing sights and cool experiences. Whether you like art, fashion, history, culture, food or architecture, Milan has plenty of secrets just waiting to be discovered.
Perfectly positioned in the North-Western part of Italy’s boot, Milan has two airports with convenient connections to Europe and beyond which means that it’s the ideal destination whether you’re planning a 2-week trip or if you’re simply looking for a weekend city break. Regardless of how long you stay, make sure you have time to see the best of the city. To help you out we’ve whittled it down to these top five must-see sights.
1 – THE DUOMO
Be prepared, the first glimpse of Milan’s Duomo will leave you awestruck. The imposing façade with its luminescent marble spires is incredible. The intricate works of the gothic cathedral took almost 6 centuries to complete. Today it is the 5th largest church in the world (and the largest in Italy).
Inside the Duomo, a spectacular stained glass window refracts the sunlight at different angles, splashing colour around the cathedral. Make sure you look down as much as up; the graphic marble floor is stunning. The view from the rooftop terraces is a rare treat in Milan, allowing for a spectacular panoramic view of the city, as well as a close-up view of the carved marble pinnacles. For a really special experience, attend one of the early morning Sunday Mass services which are held in the crypt.
2 – SANTA MARIA DELLE GRAZIE AND DA VINCI’S LAST SUPPER
The Santa Maria delle Grazie is a church and convent dating back to the mid to late 1400s. Now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this small church and its adjoining refectory is most famous for housing Leonardo da Vinci’s mural, The Last Supper. The mural dates back to the late 15th century and has become one of the most famous paintings in the world. It has been the object of extensive study by artists and historians the world over for centuries. Sadly, not much of the original painting remains today and most of what you see now is the extensive restoration work. That said, it’s still worth a visit but be warned; booking to see the painting should be done at least four weeks in advance.
3 – SAN SIRO
San Siro, more officially known as the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, is a football stadium in the San Siro district of Milan. Home to football clubs Inter Milan and AC Milan, the stadium is a mecca for football fans, and many days of celebration and mourning have been held here over the decades.
The stadium has also hosted several games for the Italian national team. In the coming weeks (28th May 2016) San Siro will once again host the Champion’s League Final for the 2015/16 football season. Not only that, but in the off season, San Siro hosts music concerts and has seen artists such as Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Madonna and U2 perform to record-breaking crowds.
4 – SFORZA CASTLE
Sforza Castle was originally a Visconti fortress, built in the mid 1300s. The impressive red brick castle was later home to the mighty Sforza dynasty that ruled Renaissance Milan. They expanded it further in the 1400s, until it became a square shape, with sides 200m long and walls almost 7m thick. Four towers, one on each corner, provided lookout points while the moat protected the lord and his family inside.
At the start of the 1500s, several local artists including Leonardo Da Vinci were called upon to decorate the fortress. It continues to impress Milan’s visitors today, not only with its rich history but also with the secrets which it reveals to it’s visitors. Several specialist museums have now opened on the premises and entry to them is included on the same ticket which you purchase for the castle.
5 – TEATRO LA SCALA
La Scala, or more formally known as Teatro alla Scala, is Milan’s legendary opera house. With an austere façade, you could be forgiven for wondering what the fuss is about. If you want to go inside, it is possible to walk through the opera house as part of a visit to the adjoining museum, the Museo Teatrale alla Scala. Once you step inside, it’s a whole other world.
The opera season traditionally opens on Saint Ambrose Day (7th December) and runs through to July, however the rest of the year, it is also possible to see theatre, ballet and music concerts here. Although it has a capacity of 2’800, you need a fair amount of perseverance and a whole lot of luck to get a ticket. Deep pockets won’t hurt either; tickets can cost anything between €10 and €180. Tickets are released for sale about 2 months before the first performance and can be bought online.
Have you been to Milan? Share your hints and tips with our readers in the ‘Comments’ box below!
*Featured Image by A H T.