Milan is the undisputed fashion capital of Italy but, mixing with designers-clad Italians, tourists will discover that the city offers more than boutiques and ateliers. Although most of the main sights can be explored on foot, Milan’s Metro covers the city and the suburbs too.
It’s a short metro ride from Milan Central Station to Piazza Duomo, the heart of the city. The imposing Cathedral dominates this vast square and tourists (and some locals too) are often seen feeding the many pigeons that crowd the area. The Cathedral is beautiful both outside and inside and, it is worth to queue up for the lift that goes to the top where there are terraces with views of the city, the square below and the triumphal arch at entrance to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
Looking up from the Cathedral terraces “La Madonnina” can be seen; a golden statue of the Virgin Mary, it’s the symbol of Milan.
Back in the square, next to the Cathedral is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Nicknamed “Il Salotto di Milano” (Milan’s living room), it is the place to see and be seen. The covered structure houses a number of shops, restaurants and a seven (yes, seven!) star hotel.
The Galleria connects Piazza Duomo with Piazza della Scala, where one of the most famous theaters in the world is located: La Scala theater. Over the years all major opera singers have performed here, including Maria Callas and the much-loved Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti; tickets for the opera season are very sought-after and, well-to-do Milanesi turn up in their finest to (literally) voice their approval or dislike of the performances.The building opposite the theater is Palazzo Marino, Milan’s Town Hall.
For fashionistas, a trip to Milan should include a walk down Via Montenapoleone (and its side streets) where it is back to back designers stores; all the major Italian names like Armani, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and many others can be found here. Well-heeled customers, often seen cruising up and down the street in their very expensive cars or, walking carrying a number of bags from the stores, are a common sight in this part of town.
To take a break from the shopping frenzy, a place to go is Parco Sempione, the park is very popular with families and joggers, especially in the summer months. At the entrance of the park is the Sforza Castle, a famous Milan’s landmark. It houses a number of museum where many artworks can be seen including the famous marble sculpture Rondanini Pieta’ by Michelangelo.
And art enthusiasts on a visit to Milan should include on their itinerary a trip to the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie where the famous “The Last Supper” painting by Leonardo Da Vinci is on display; booking well in advance is essential. Milan is also famous for its football teams A.C. Milan and Inter Milan (just Inter for Italians supporters), with fierce rivalry between the teams. Attending a match could be an experience not to be missed but, the stadium of San Siro can also be visited on non-match days with a tour of the facilities.
Milan, like the rest of Italy, offers endless possibilities to try traditional Italian food: from the omnipresent pizza and pasta in all shapes and sizes, to local dishes like Risotto alla Milanese (Saffron Risotto) and Cotoletta, a breaded veal or pork cutlet, fried in a sea of melted butter, not for the faint-hearted or people watching their figure!
A number or restaurants line the Navigli neighbourhood: with art galleries all along the canals, it is a destination that comes alive in the evening, famous for its night-life
A visit to Milan can be combined with day trips to the lakes: Lake Garda, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore are all a short train ride away; international destinations can be accessed from Milan Central Station with Switzerland and France not too far away.
A weekend away to Milan it is a must during the sales, to snap up that coat or handbag at reduced prices or, at the time of Milan Fashion Week when, the world’s top fashion designers descend on the city to show their latest collections; many celebrities are often attending the catwalk shows to make sure they are up to date with current and future fashion trends.