Visit Milan. What to see and do. We will admit when we were wrong or when situations change. I have probably visited Milan about 20 times in my life, most times only visiting the Duomo and taking a train to other parts of Italy. I had some friends that lived in Milan and stayed for a bit, but even still, Milan was not a tourist destination in my mind. Reconsidering the city, I find that Milan is indeed an interesting city and worthy of exploration. It delivers whether you are looking for art, history, sport or just a good time out at a great restaurant or club. If you have ever wondered what to do in Milan, here are some must-do things to make your stay in Milan unforgettable.
Visit the Duomo of Milan and Its Museum
Let’s start this list of must-sees in Milan with its flagship monument, the emblem of the city, the Duomo. The Duomo is the cathedral of Milan, located in Duomo square in the center of Milan. For the record, the cathedral was built in 1386 by Gian Galeazzo Visconti in the place of two old churches that were destroyed to make way for the cathedral. The remains of these churches are still visible under the cathedral and one can see them during a visit to the cathedral. The Duomo of Milan has dizzying dimensions, is the third largest in the world with 12,000m² of surface area and can accommodate more than 40,000 people. The cathedral is richly decorated with magnificent stained-glass windows as well as a large number of statues (about 3400).
In addition to it, the terraces of the cathedral are also worth seeing. Climb the roof via the stairs or the elevator and get a closer look at the gargoyles or other sculptures on the roof. On top of that, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of Milan and its surroundings.
The third stage of the visit to the cathedral is its museum. Located on the right of the cathedral, when looking at it from the square, the Duomo Museum retraces its history and exhibits many pieces: sculptures, paintings, stained glass windows, gargoyles and a model.
Visit La Scala
Let’s continue now with another monument to visit in Milan: The La Scala theatre. The construction of this theatre began in 1776. Its name, Alla Scala, is due to the location chosen for its construction. It is also built on the site of an old church from the XIVth century. This church bore the name of its creator: Beatrice Regina Della Scala. It is, therefore, a tribute to this monument which was destroyed to make way for this magnificent performance hall.
La Scala is located in Piazza Della Scala. Despite a very sober exterior, you will have to go inside to become aware of the grandeur of the place and its beauty. The tour begins with a visit to the La Scala Museum. It retraces the history of the theatre and the main characters who passed through La Scala during their career. Among other things, you can admire a room presenting the portraits of many celebrities who have marked La Scala, such as Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi, the two most famous singers here.
The rest of the visit continues with the reception room, which is dazzling by its decoration. But the most awaited moment is to be able to access the dressing rooms of the theatre to admire the splendid performance hall. The dressing rooms are all carpeted in red and give a pleasant, subdued atmosphere. As for the hall, it is grand and easy to imagine the greatest operas being held here. The decorations are taken care of down to the smallest detail.
Parcourir the Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery
The Vittorio Emanuele II galleries, located between Duomo Square and La Scala Square, are among the must-sees to visit in Milan. These galleries are among the most beautiful in the world!
These galleries are in the shape of a cross and measure 14.5 m wide for 105 m long for the shortest axis and 196 m for the longest axis. The Vittorio Emanuele II galleries now house many luxury boutiques, such as Prada or Armani, and some restaurants.
Visit Sforza Castle
Built around the 1360s by Galéas II Visconti, the Sforza Castle, originally a fortress, is one of the monuments not to be missed in Milan. Almost a century after its construction and after the death of Galéas II Visconti, the Ambrosian Republic decided to destroy the fortress. It is on these ruins that the castle was built by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan.
First used as a ducal residence, then as a fortress with the addition of new fortifications during the Spanish occupation, the castle was, a few centuries later, doomed to destruction under the Napoleonic occupation. The destruction, which began with the demolition in 1801 was stopped against the will of the Milanese, who wanted the construction of a new residential district.
The castle has been damaged several times over the centuries, especially during the Second World War and was renovated again. It was in 2005 that the last restoration work was completed.
Visit the Ambrosian Pinacoteca
Let’s continue this article with a second art gallery to visit in Milan, which is also remarkable. This is the Ambrosian Pinacoteca. Just like the previous art gallery, this one also occupies a building steeped in history. The Ambrosian Palace was commissioned in 1603 by a Milanese cardinal to create a cultural project. It is open to all and above all, free. In this project, the cardinal integrates a library, which is the first in the world to be open to the public. A few years later, this same cardinal decided to exhibit his personal collection of works of art and opened the first museum in Italy. Over the years, the collection has been enriched. It is now considered one of the most beautiful private collections in Italy.
During the visit to this art gallery, you can admire both the works and the interior of the different rooms, from floor to ceiling. Remarkable paintings are exhibited, such as the Portrait of a Musician by Da Vinci or the Fruit Basket by Caravaggio.
Visit the Stade Giuseppe Meazza – San Siro
Now let’s move on to a must-visit for all football fans, a visit to Milan’s iconic stadium, the Giuseppe Meazza stadium, better known as the San Siro.
Let’s start by clearing up this last point regarding the name of the stadium. Since 1980, this has been called the Giuseppe Meazza stadium, named after an illustrious Italian footballer who played for the two clubs in the city and has won two World Cups with Italy. The name San Siro comes from the neighborhoods in which the stadium is located.
The Milan stadium has a rare feature in Europe. The stadium is home to the city’s two clubs: AC Milan and Inter Milan. Two clubs which play at the highest level have each won several Italian titles and European cups. When visiting the stadium, this peculiarity will strike you. Each of the two teams has its own dressing room. In addition to the visitors’ changing rooms, this brings the number of changing rooms to 3!
Each of the two teams has half of the field, and the supporters have their separate stands. Similarly, the stadium museum, like the shop, is divided into two parts, one for AC Milan and the other for Inter. During the tour, you will learn about the history of the stadium, its many renovations, expansions and the history of these two historic clubs.
For the record, the stadium first belonged to AC Milan before the city bought it and then, a few years later, decided to also place Inter Milan there.
Our Final Word
If you explore Milan, you will not be disappointed. With art, history, architecture, shopping and great restaurants, Milan has become a destination rather than just a stopping point. Next time you are in Itay, consider a couple of days in Milan. You will love it.
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