The business capital of Italy offers to tourists an incredible variety of artistic attractions, entertainment, fashion and pure discovery of characteristic districts. Milan lets itself be unveiled slowly, it wants to be courted and understood like a Risorgimental noblewoman.
Milan is reborn every morning, pulsated like a heart. Milan is positive, optimistic, efficient. Milan is to live, dream and enjoy. Milan to drink.
THE ELEGANCE OF MILAN
You can look for it in the Alda Merini’s words, the poetess of Navigli, in the intense notes of Maria Callas “The Diva” or in the sad story of Virginia de Leyva, made famous by Alessandro Manzoni as the Monk of Monza; however, the best way to discover Milan is to walk along its streets, talk to its citizen and let yourself be carried away in that crazy whirlwind of life that has made it famous all over the world. In this article we accompany you to discover the most precious treasures of the cityVISIT ATTRACTIONS IN MILAN ❯
Renzo climbed up the slopes to the top and once there he saw the Cathedral, a Big Machine alone onto the plain, like something rising more from a desert than inside a town; so he stopped at once, forgiving all his troubles, to gaze from afar at that Eighth Wonder of which he knew since his childhood."
1 DUOMO CATHEDRAL, THE SYMBOL OF THE CITY
Every European capital has an architectural jewel that represents it, Paris has Eiffel Tower, London the Big Bang, Athens the Parthenon... Milan boasts the eighth wonder of the world, the Duomo. It is an imposing Gothic cathedral built with white and pink marble brought from Lake Maggiore through a dense network of river channels built specifically for this purpose; a building studded with spires, statues, arches and gargoyles that will leave you speechless!
And up there, on the top of the cathedral, stands the "Madonnina", a golden statue representing the Virgin Mary that for centuries has shone in the sky of Milan, protecting the city and all its inhabitants.
VISIT THE DUOMO❯
2 CASTELLO SFORZESCO, THE RESIDENCE OF THE DUKS
It was Francesco Sforza, the first Duke of Milan, who built this imposing fortress, which was always a symbol of the power of medieval Milan. Between 1500 AD and 1600 AD it was transformed into a real military citadel and then became, at the beginning of the last century, the seat of cultural institutions. Today you can admire inside of the castle the Filarete tower, the highest, the rear facade that overlooks Parco Sempione, the Ponticella (old bridge) of Ludovico il Moro that connected the ducal apartments to the outer walls, the parade ground, the Rocchetta that is the most impregnable area of the fortress and the Ducal Court. In addition to the architectural wonders in the Castello Sforzesco you will also find several exhibitions and displays of considerable artistic interest.
Piazza Castello, 20121 Milan MI
VISIT THE CASTELLO SFORZESCO AND ITS SURROUNDINGS ❯
3 FASHION QUADRILATERAL, ELEGANCE IN THE WINDOW
All over the world Milan is synonymous with high fashion and classy shopping. The main streets that make up this district in the heart of the city are Via Monte Napoleone, Via Manzoni, Via Della Spiga and Corso Venezia. During the whole year, from the store windows peep out clothing designed by the most important designers such as Armani, Versace and Prada. The shop windows and showrooms will conquer you and if you are lucky enough to stay in Milan during the two annual fashion weeks you can attend some of the 40 fashion shows that take place in the most elegant palaces of the city such as Palazzo Reale and Palazzo Serbelloni.
4 NAVIGLI AND DARSENA, APERITIF TIME
What makes Milan famous in the world besides fashion is the so-called "bella vita" (good life), the rooftop parties at sunset, the social events but above all the after-work aperitifs that the Milanese just can't give up. And what better place to taste an excellent prosecco than on "Navigli", the canals that has become the symbol of modern "Milan to drink", with its lounge bars overlooking the Naviglio Grande, the music that emanates from the inner rooms of the historic bars and the noisy chatter of the Milanese who relax after a day of business in the city. The Darsena in particular, inaugurated on the occasion of Expo 2015, is an inimitable place to enjoy the golden hour strolling with a spritz in hand illuminated by the colourful lights coming from the many dehors that crowd the banks of the canal.
5 LA SCALA THEATER, THE TEMPLE OF THE OPERA
The Teatro alla Scala more than a building is a dream, the dream of anyone who has ever wanted to tread the theatrical stage performing in ballet, opera or even just attending unforgettable shows. Risen from the ashes of the ancient Teatro Ducale, La Scala was inaugurated in 1778 with the opera "L'Europa riconosciuta" by Salieri and was later made great by artists such as Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini and many others.
Via Filodrammatici, 2
6 PINACOTECA DI BRERA GALLERY, A SIMULACRE OF BEAUTY
One of the most important art galleries in Italy, the Pinacoteca di Brera houses ancient and modern paintings. Unlike other Italian museums, the Pinacoteca is home to works from different artistic schools from Lombardy to Tuscany and Rome: this gallery was founded in the Napoleonic era precisely to represent every era and every region of Italy, a true tribute to Italian art in all its forms. Attempting to exhaustively list the wonders inside the Pinacoteca would be an impossible task, so we will mention only a few of the major names you will encounter in the magical palace of the Pinacoteca in Brera: Raphael, Bramante, Piero della Francesca, Nicolò Pisano, Perugino, Mantegna, Tintoretto and Caravaggio.
Finally, after admiring so much beauty, you can relax and chat in one of the art cafes that arise throughout the Brera area, making it one of the chicest neighbourhoods of Milan.
Via Brera, 28
7 GALLERIA VITTORIO EMANUELE II, THE GOOD LOUNGE IN MILAN
Just a short walk from the Duomo, don't miss Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a superb gallery that leads from the cathedral to La Scala Theatre. The gallery stands on top of ancient Milanese palaces and at its centre you can admire the superb glass and iron dome. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is nicknamed by the Milanese "il salotto" (the living room) and hosts some of the most important and historic fashion showcases and luxury restaurants.
Piazza del Duomo
8 SEMPIONE PARK AND ITS LEGEND
Parco Sempione is one of the most beautiful urban green areas; built towards the end of the 19th century, it overlooks the Castello Sforzesco. Legend has it that inside the park lives the so-called Black Lady who, during the foggy evenings, wanders around among the trees luring men, who perceive her presence thanks to an intense scent of violets. After having seduced them, the Black Lady leads them through the hidden paths of the park inside a large villa: there she consummates the intercourse, but as soon as the man lifts the veil that hides her face, he discovers a skull with empty eye sockets. At this point the Black Lady does not try to hold back the men who flee from her frightened, she knows well that they will return because they have incurred her curse, that is, they have been condemned to know a love so strong that they lose their senses and they will spend the rest of their lives trying to find the great villa where they had danced with the Dark Lady.
9 MONUMENTAL CEMETERIES, THE MUSEUM OF MEMORY
The monumental cemetery is one of the most special attractions of Milan, a real open-air museum. It is a wonderful neo-Gothic building made of marble and bricks that houses the tombs of some of the most illustrious families of the city as well as the remains of some VIPs such as Alessandro Manzoni and Salvatore Quasimodo.
Piazzale Cimitero Monumentale
10 THE BOSCO VERTICALE, A METROPOLITAN REFORESTATION PROJECT
The Bosco Verticale (vertical wood) represents the true rebirth of Milan, the green face of the city in the new millennium. The Bosco Verticale, inaugurated in 2014, consists of two tower-shaped residential buildings located in the Isola district: these buildings are covered with as many as 15,000 plants of 90 different species, the equivalent of a small forest! It is fascinating to see the wonderful seasonal colours on the facades of the buildings, from the bright greens of spring to the warm tones of autumn. After admiring the beautiful vertical forest, I recommend a short walk to Piazza Gae Aulenti and Corso Como, to enjoy a classy aperitif in the shadow of the city's most famous skyscrapers.
Via Gaetano de Castillia, 11
11 VIA PAOLO SARPI THE MILANESE CHINATOWN
This neighbourhood, formerly known as Borgo degli Ortolani, has become in recent years a real Chinatown in the heart of Milan. Via Paolo Sarpi, the main artery, stretches for about a kilometre and is dotted with oriental stores, from clothing to markets, from bars to street food. The neighbourhood has recently been redeveloped and if you are lucky enough to be here during the Chinese New Year you can watch the colourful parade that fills the streets with oriental music and traditional costumes.
Via Paolo Sarpi
12 THE BASILICA OF SANT'AMBROGIO, THE PATRON OF MILAN
This ancient basilica takes its name from the city's patron saint and is a truly unmissable attraction during a tour of Milan. A first church dedicated to the saint was built on the same site in 386, the current basilica was completed in 1099. The exterior of the church is very particular with its arcades, arches and two bell towers: it is undoubtedly an artistic jewel little known to the crowds of tourists, but very dear to the locals. Inside you can admire the sarcophagus of Stilicone and the crypt where the Saints Ambrose, Gervasius and Protasius rest.
Piazza Sant'Ambrogio, 15
13 IDROSCALO, THE SEA OF MILAN
Milan's Idroscalo (seaplane port) was established in the 1920s as an airfield on the water. Later, with the decline of seaplane transport, it became a centre for recreational activities and sports, especially on the water, so much so that it was given the name "The Sea of Milan". Today at Idroscalo di Milano you can enjoy many sports activities such as rowing, sailing and kayaking, there are swimming pools and water games for children but also temporary exhibitions, bars and a series of events for guests of all ages.
14 "VENICE" METROPOLITAN HOTEL DAY
The “Hotel Day Venezia" is one of the best-preserved daytime baths in Italy. It is an underground structure in Art Deco style inaugurated in 1926 with the purpose of providing various services for citizens and travellers. Imagine that you have just arrived in the capital of Italy after a long journey on a steam train during a very hot summer at the beginning of the century: at the "Hotel Day Venezia" you would have had the prospect to fresh up with a luxury bath and take advantage of body care services such as manicure, barber, hairdresser, laundry; moreover, in this ante litteram commercial centre there were also travel agencies, photographers and many other services! Today the metropolitan "Hotel Day Venezia" can be visited by FAI guided tours.
15 SAN BERNARDINO DELLE OSSA, THE CEMETERY OF THE INNOCENTS
The chapel of San Bernardino alle Ossa will surely remind the Cemetery of the Innocents in Paris: is a sacred space occupied by thousands of skulls and bones that were recovered in the foundations of the church after the bell tower collapsed in 1964. The human remains were used to form an art work, macabre but at the same time suggestive, in rococò style. Legend has it that the bones of San Bernardino all belong to saints and martyrs, but more likely they are the remains of the dead from the nearby Ospedale Maggiore.
Piazza Santo Stefano
16 PIRELLI HANGAR BICOCCA, URBAN ART
The Pirelli Hangar Bicocca is a free museum of contemporary art created after a major industrial redevelopment project that transformed spaces used for the production of agricultural vehicles, locomotives and large machines into a building with vast exhibition spaces. Do not miss the incredible installation The Seven Palaces that is located inside the structure called "The Cube" that pays homage to the ancient Hebrew treatise Sefer Hechalot, the Book of Palaces: the work symbolizes the spiritual path of approach to God.
Via Chiese, 2
17 COLUMNS OF SAN LORENZO, NIGHTLIFE OF YOUNG PEOPLE
The columns of San Lorenzo are located at the Porta Ticinese district and they are what remains of a porticoed atrium placed in front of the homonymous basilica on the way to Pavia, the city of Ticino. Today, under the sixteen columns with Corinthian style capitals, young people gather to spend their evenings drinking beer and listening to music all night long: here the youngest Milanese movida gathers.
Corso di Porta Ticinese
18 WOOD IN THE CITY, NATURE IN MILAN FOR FAMILIES
The Bosco in Città is a public park created in 1974 thanks to the collaboration of families in the neighbourhood, boy scouts, students and Milanese citizens who have worked together to create this green lung in the heart of Milan. Here you can enjoy pleasant walks through the woods, meadows, streams, ponds, wetlands, about 200 gardens assigned to citizens who cultivate them with great love.
Via Novara, South Agricultural Park
19 MONTANELLI GARDENS AND CORSO BUENOS AIRES, A FIFTH AVENUE IN MILAN
The Indro Montanelli Public Gardens, dedicated to the famous journalist who used to spend his free time here, are an ideal location to relax walking along the tidy paths and to observe the foliage in autumn among the redwoods, cedars and horse chestnuts. The park looks like an English garden where you can discover small botanical and architectural gems before diving into the famous Corso Buenos Aires, one of Milan's pulsating arteries. Here you will find many clothing stores for all budgets as well as several hotels and restaurants.
Via Palestro, 14
20 BASILICA OF SANT'EUSTORGIO, A HIDDEN JEWEL
In the Porta Ticinese area there is the Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio, a late Roman imperial building. According to tradition still today, here it begins the procession with which every new bishop of Milan enters the city. According to the myth, the Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio held the relics of the Three Kings which were stolen and taken to Cologne by Frederick Barbarossa, today only a few fragments remain in the niche above the altar.
Piazza Sant'Eustorgio, 1