Milan, Lombard capital that stupefies for the emotions only it can offer, is a culture, modern, and lively city that is rich in beauty and artistic masterpieces.
The Duomo, or Cathedral, with its luminous marble (from Candoglia) façade and late-Gothic architectonic style, is the monumental symbol for this metropolis in Northern Italy. From its heights, reaching to the feet of the famous Madonnina statue, visitors can enjoy a unique panoramic view dominated by the church’s 135 pinnacles pointing towards the sky and reigning over the entire city.
In the heart of the city rises the Palazzo Reale, the seat of the Communal Government of Milan, and the historic halls of which host frequent and important art exhibits. Next to the Palazzo is the uber-modern Museum of the 20th Century, boasting a number of artworks from the 1900s only. And nearby is another of the city’s well-known icons, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, fundamentally a pedestrian street intersection covered by glass-vaulted arcades. Inside are historic restaurants, bars and fashion boutiques, as well as its lovely mosaic flooring.
For music lovers, Piazza della Scala is the obligatory go-to point, where one will find one of the most important opera houses in the world: Teatro La Scala. The Milanese theatre tradition resides not only here at La Scala, but also in a few other around this magnificent city – including Teatro del Piccolo, founded in 1947, and Teatro degli Arcimboldi, the local Cabaret theatre.
The Sforzesco Castle - built as a defence in the mid-14th Century and today transformed into a painting gallery - houses art masterpieces of singular value: e.g. the Pietà Rondanini by Michelangelo. From the Castle’s courtyards, pedestrians can venture all the way to Parco Sempione, whose 47 hectares are landscaped similarly to an English garden. Historic monuments and structures dot the park, from the Arco della Pace (1807) – an imposing triumphal arch in the neoclassical style that commemorates the Napoleonic victories – to the Palazzo dell’Arte, in which Milan’s La Triennale is installed for the purpose of modern art exhibits and design collections.
Of course, Milano is also known for being the Italian capital of design, especially in terms of fashion. Numerous sector fairs, shows and events run in this Lombard city throughout the year.
On the opposite side of the Park is located one of Milan’s prettiest neighbourhoods, Brera, coloured by numerous restaurants, bars, antique dealers and other characteristic shops and locales.
It is here that one finds the Pinacoteca di Brera and its collection of some of the most important works of art in the country. Among the artists featured: Raffaello, Andrea Mantegna, Piero della Francesca, and Caravaggio. Another historic district in Milan is that of Navigli, a hub and meeting point for artists and the young; until the 19th Century the area was a zone of canals, and by now is characterised by its typical art and artisan workshops.
This “Capital of the North” also bears a significant religious aspect, with its many historic churches also esteemed for their particular artistic attributes. Among these is the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio; one of the city’s oldest churches, Sant’Ambrogio was built in the 300s and is the height of the Lombard Romanesque. Also of great artistic importance is the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Leonardo da Vinci painted his breathtaking The Last Supper between 1495 and 1497. (This masterpiece can be admired as long as reservations are made in advance.)
Finally, the Basilica of San Lorenzo, a place of worship for Paleo-Christians situated near Porta Ticinese. The San Lorenzo area of Milan is known for its homonymous Columns from the Roman Age. In time it has become the haunt of young Milanese and is a glitzy stop-off on the nightlife circuit.