Our top attractions, highlights and insider tips
You don’t know European style and class until you’ve made a trip to Milan. Explore the classical splendor of the Brera neighborhood’s cobbled piazzas, where apartment buildings with gilded doorways meet frescoed Romanesque churches. Sip an espresso at a corner cafe in the Quadrilatero della Moda as the Milanese peruse the windows of Fendi, Prada, and Bulgari. End your day in the hip Navigli neighborhood eating luxurious saffron risotto canalside. Style is infectious in Milan—ever wanted to feel like a supermodel?
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The Last Supper
When you travel to Milan, your first port of call should be Milan Cathedral. Over 600 years in the making, the cathedral was finally completed in 1965. Inside, keep an eye out for the chilling statue of the flayed Saint Bartholomew and the multicolored stained-glass windows. Climb 250 stairs to the roof—don’t worry, there’s also a lift. Look out to the city from your perch among the spires and gargoyles.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is more than just a mall: it’s Milan’s cathedral of fashion. Stop here for a morning espresso or an afternoon Aperol Spritz in one of the many old-school cafes that line this iconic arcade and watch the fashionistas go by. Make sure to stop at the mosaic bull underneath the central dome and spin around on its testicles—legend says this will bring you good luck.
When it comes to opera, La Scala is the center of the universe. Take a look at the gold-leafed wallpaper and Corinthian columns of the foyer, used as the social epicenter for the Milanese upper crust since 1778. Catch the latest evening performance among the plush splendor of the public galleries, where the hardcore Loggionisti opera aficionados aren’t shy to make their opinions heard.
Every Milan trip should involve seeing The Last Supper. Visit the Santa Maria della Grazie convent to see Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, where the painting has stood in the refectory for over 500 years, surviving Napoleon’s troops and Allied bombing raids. You’ll have 15 minutes to study the anguished faces of the Apostles, so look out for Judas’ bag of silver before exploring the rest of the convent.
This magnificent 15th-century citadel is a cornucopia of history and art. Walk the ramparts, up to 23-foot thick, and ascend the Filarete Tower for a great view over Milan’s center. See medieval weapons in the armory, or head into one of the museums to enjoy the work of some of Italy’s great artists—think Caravaggio, Titian, and Michaelangelo.
If you want to feel like you’re in the Lombardy countryside while visiting Milan, look no further. Do as the Milanese do and explore the park’s 95 acres of manicured lawns, an oasis of calm in the high-speed city center. Cross the Mermaid’s Bridge, where young lovers come for good luck, towards the Porto Sempione, a neoclassical triumphal arch at the northwestern end of the park.
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