The Duomo, the Galleria and Piazza della Scala are essentials of any trip to Milan, but you’ll be spending a lot of time walking along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, a bustling pedestrian and porticoed streed where all the stores of major global brands are located, in addition to movie theaters, department stores, media stores, and lots more.
Once you arrive at Piazza San Babila (M1 S. Babila), take a left and you’ll find the start of via Montenapoleone and the surrounding fashion district (M3 Montenapoleone). If you lose yourself in the internal streets, you’ll discover shops that sell clothes from fashion shows at discounted prices, often visited by fashionable eccentrics in search of new ideas: have fun trying on bizarre garments coming from Milano’s most daring fashionistas!
The Duomo is surrounded by many landmarks: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Palazzo Reale the city’s most important exhibition venue, Museo del ‘900, a major collection of Italian Modernist paintings, La Rinascente, Milan’s historic department plus the surrounding shopping streets, displaying opportunities for every budget. And if you start feeling you need some food after all this, there are plenty of traditional and modern eateries around, whether you are looking for a Milanese risotto or a mouth-watering panzerotto.
The Duomo is Milano’s magnificent cathedral. Set in the exact center of the city, it is a late-Gothic masterpiece that remains etched in the memory of all those who visit Milano. As you exit the subway station, you can see it standing in front of you, topped by a golden statue of the Virgin Mary wearing the starred halo and carrying a spear: it is the beloved Madonnina, which gives Milano its anthem song and is often used to refer to the city itself (e.g. derby della madonnina to refer to the AC Milan – FC Inter Milan pitched fights on the soccer field). It took almost half a millennium for the Fabbrica del Duomo (the Duomo Factory, still in existence) to complete the second most important Italian church. Construction started in 1386, commissioned by the Duke of Milano Gian Galeazzo Visconti: the Duomo was meant as a symbol of the glory and grandeur of the city which was emerging as an Italian potentate at the time.
The Duomo is the largest Gothic building in the world. You will also find yourself looking upwards in awe at its countless spires, statues and gargoyles, which conjure the effect of a forest of marble. as it is the only church in the world that has sky-high statues on the pinnacles of its columns. Take the elevator in the back to the right of the façade to visit the roof terraces look at this masterpiece more closely. You’ll able to admire the whole panorama of the city and the Alps that rise from the plain in the distance.
GALLERIA VITTORIO EMANUELE
To the left of the Duomo's elaborate façade, is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the original shopping arcade inaugurating the liberty era, designed by architect Giuseppe Mengoni. Taking a stroll in the Galleria is a popular pastime and is a way of entering the heart of the city, since this splendid covered arcade links the Duomo to Teatro alla Scala. It immediately became a showcase for high-end shopkeepers, the place for a leisurely socializing walk and an aperitif or a relaxed dinner after the Opera.
THE SCALA THEATER
La Scala is the most famous opera house in the world and an unmissable destination for melomaniacs and anybody who loves music and culture. Opera singers, dancers and directors made history here: Verdi and Puccini, Maria Callas and Pavarotti, Carla Fracci and Luchino Visconti have all trodden this hallowed stage. A Scala performance is a mesmerizing experience that goes way beyond the excellence presented on stage. The enchanted atmosphere, the acoustics, the prevalence of the sumptuous red and gold that are a trademark of the great theatres of the world: all adds up to a celebration of the power of music, an essential part of the history of Milan and the whole world. A very important moment marking the calendar of city life is the opening of the Scala opera season. Since 1951, it falls on December 7, day of St. Ambrose, Patron Saint of Milan.
CORSO VITTORIO EMANUELE
The Duomo, the Galleria and Piazza della Scala are essentials of any trip to Milan, but you’ll be spending a lot of time walking along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, a bustling pedestrian street with porticoes where all the stores of major global brands are located, in addition to movie theaters, department stores, media stores, and lots more. Once the Corse ends in Piazza San Babila (M1 S. Babila), take a left and you’ll find the start of via Montenapoleone and the surrounding fashion district (M3 Montenapoleone). If you lose yourself in the internal streets, you’ll discover shops that sell clothes from fashion shows at discounted prices, often visited by fashionable eccentrics in search of new ideas: have fun trying on bizarre garments coming from Milano’s most daring fashionistas!
THE SFORZA CASTLE (Castello Sforzesco)
The Sforza Castle is one of the largest manors in Europe. It was built by Francesco Sforza, a 15th century captain of venture who married into the ruling Visconti family and then seized power with a coup, overturning the short-lived Ambrosian Republic he had vowed to defend. For his ability and cunning, he was celebrated by Machiavelli in The Prince. At the end of the fifteenth century Leonardo da Vinci was engaged here, under the patronage of Ludovico il Moro, the last of the Sforza dukes, and, after extensive renovations, his Sala delle Asse is now open to the public and part Leonardo's itinerary. Today this imposing complex hosts Milano’s civic museums, which host the harrowing Pietà Rondanini, the timeless work of art that Michelangelo sculpted in his old age. The Castle’s grounds are captivating for the large courtyards, massive walls, moats, towers, bridges, leading to the green expanse of liberty-era Parco Sempione.
THE LAST SUPPER
Milano is the location of one of most famous paintings of the world, the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. The cenacolo vinciano is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and can be admired on the wall of the refectory of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (M1/M2 Cadorna FN). Celebrated by novels and movies, the Last Supper can only be rivalled by the Monna Lisa as the most beautiful painting of the world. Leonardo was engaged on the work from 1494 to 1497. The mural painting is extremely fragile and requires meticulous conservation: for this reason visits are limited and must be booked well in advance. Seeing the Last Supper is a must when visiting Milano.
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