Milan at first glance
While the city’s metropolitan area stretches far and wide, Milan’s centre is quite compact and can be crossed quickly. The public transportation network is efficient, whereas the traffic is usually intense, but well-regulated. Walking all the way across the centre could take less than an hour, but it is worth taking more time to have a look around.
Piazza Duomo, the wide square where the city’s cathedral stands, is unquestionably the most famous Milanese spot worldwide. The golden statue of the Virgin Mary, locally known as Madunina, has become the city’s de facto symbol, “overlooking Milan”, as a popular song goes. Incidentally, the stunning view from the Duomo top is not to be missed.
Just like any Italian city, Milan is dotted with beautiful churches, some of which are very ancient. Sant’Ambrogio, dedicated to the city’s patron saint, or Santa Maria delle Grazie, hosting Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting The Last Supper, are just the most famous examples.
However, secular architecture is by no means less interesting. Piazza Duomo is also the main access point to the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a 19th century architectural masterpiece recalling the Parisian passages, connecting the square to Teatro La Scala. A 10 minute walk from Piazza Duomo will take you to Castello Sforzesco, another major Milanese landmark. Formerly the residence of the Sforza family, this vast citadel now hosts several museums and borders Parco Sempione, the largest park in central Milan and the perfect nature spot to relax.
The northern side of the city hosts modern skyscrapers (the 231-metre-tall Unicredit Tower is the tallest skyscraper in Italy), whereas the southern part of the centre offers a glimpse of popular architecture along the banks of the city’s canals, known as Navigli, to date one of the city’s most vibrant areas.
Bottom line: what makes Milan so fascinating is the frequently elusive character of its beauty. It takes, indeed, a good deal of curiosity and attention to the smallest details to fully appreciate the city. Many delightful gardens, buildings, churches or museums often go unnoticed, unless you find out about them.
No time to get bored
Milan and its residents are often depicted as hectic, restless, always on the move. For sure, the city offers as much entertainment as you could hope for, both during the day and at nighttime.
One of the world fashion capitals alongside Paris and New York, Milan hosts many of the most important ateliers in Italy. Twice per year, the Fashion Week event anticipates the upcoming season’s trends and calls many celebrities to the city. Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga are home to the most luxurious boutiques, whereas cheaper brands can be found in corso Buenos Aires, Via Vittorio Emanuele and Via Torino.
Those who prefer museums to binge shopping will be spoilt for choice, as well. Piazza Duomo and its immediate surroundings, just like Castello Sforzesco, host an incredible variety of artistic and historical collections, some of which are private, and/or need to be booked in advance. Make sure you do not miss out on the Pinacoteca di Brera in the arty namesake district. Science lovers, on the other hand, can head to the Natural History or Technology museums.
Last but not least, the Milanese nightlife has nothing to envy from other big cities worldwide. No matter if you are more of a clubber or an opera connoisseur, or if you would rather opt for live music, you will find the perfect event to fit your expectations. However, Milan is just unbeatable in Italy when it comes to the theatre scene, be it opera, ballet, or prose.