Picture of busy street with Castello Sforzesco

Milan – Five things to do in the city

Milan has a mystical status in the world of style, luxury and soccer – and that’s just for starters. When you sip some coffee in one of the many cafes, watching the flash cars and city rush past all around, you will see why Milan is up there with the other great European cities of London, Madrid, Munich and Paris.

Milan is the powerhouse of Italian industry and finance. It is also the world’s capital for style and fashion, which means it is no wonder that Milan has an outsized reputation. Home to Gucci, Armani, D&G and Versace, as well as some of the most successful soccer teams in Europe, and based in a truly historical city, then you have a place that is a pleasure to spend a few days in.

One thing you will notice when in Milan, however, is not the industry or soccer stadium, but the beautiful buildings. These include the superb Duomo in the heart of the city, as well as small centuries-old churches that adorn its narrow streets.

Here are my five great things to see in Milan.

top of El Duomo looking down at the entrance to Galleria Vittorio1. El Duomo and the Piazza

El Duomo is one of the most spectacular sights in Europe and is the world’s third largest church. It is the centerpiece of Milan and the piazza (square) in front only adds to the grandeur.

This huge cathedral is full of spires as if trying to puncture the sky, 135 of them to be exact! The 14th century cathedral took more than 500 years to complete and with over 3,500 statues it is no wonder. Every nook and cranny has some strange looking gargoyle or saint looking back at you.

As impressive as it is from the piazza out front, it is even more impressive when you take a walk up to the roof and see the spires, gargoyles and even the Alps on a clear day.

2. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and La Scala Opera

One of the oldest shopping malls in the world is located beside one of the oldest operas. This is only a stone’s throw from El Duomo and is why the center of Milan is so pleasant to walk around.

The Gallery was opened in 1867 and is a beautiful mixture of glass and metal. Today, it houses some of the world’s most exclusive stores. Unless you own your own boat, you probably won’t be able to afford to buy anything in the shops (well, maybe a ridiculously priced coffee), but it is still worth a browse through to see how the other half live.

Just outside one of the exits of La Galleria is Piazza della Scala, which has a statue of Leonardo Da Vinci and of course Teatro La Scala. This famous theatre is over 200 years old and still is one of the world’s premier theatres.

3. The Last Supper

You more than likely know the painting of Jesus with his twelve disciples at his last supper. Well, this iconic painting by Leonardo da Vinci is in Milan in the Santa Maria della Grazie church.

Arguably the greatest painting of the Renaissance is a huge piece of work measuring 4.6m x 8.8m (15ft x 29ft) and has survived being used as target practice, being part of a military barracks and World War II (where the other half of the church got blown up). How it is still around is a miracle in itself.

To see the painting, you need to book a viewing time at the church, which is easiest when incorporated into a city tour.

4. Castello Sforzesco

This behemoth of a 14th century castle is another architectural wonder. This red-bricked citadel today houses eight different museums, including Michelangelo’s last sculpture and Da Vinci’s ‘Codex Trivulzianus’ manuscript.

The scale of the castle is breathtaking. It includes a now dry moat, 70-meter-high towers, and walls that are nearly three kilometers long, 31 meters high and four meters thick. Even if you don’t head into Piazza d’Armi, you can still enjoy the surrounding park of Parco Sempione.

5. The San Siro

As mentioned earlier, Milan is the powerhouse of Italian industry and football. As heading to a factory might not be that interesting, heading to a football match most certainly is.

Italy is one of the world’s best soccer nations and in the 85,000 seater stadium of the San Siro they have the home of both AC-Milan and Inter Milan (Internazionale) which are some of Italy’s and Europe’s top clubs. They have both won the European Cup (Europe’s best club competition) multiple times.

The season runs from September to May each year and with both of them playing at home on alternate weekends there is always a game to go to. If you can get your hands on tickets to the Milan derby between the two you are in for one rousing evening.

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I’m Ross and love travelling and experiencing different sites, cultures and languages. I am currently working for ‘the man’ while making time to travel whenever I can. I try to share my experiences of 70+ countries so that others can enjoy their holidays a little better.

Categories: Italy, Road Trips

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