One of the well-known cities in Italy, Milan is one of the most popular fashion capitals of the world and home to the historic Duomo. The city is not as common a part of the tourist circuit of Italy but with the huge variety of things to do in Milan, it is a city worth including on your bucket list. If the many iconic places in Milan are not on your tourist radar, here are some reasons why they should be, and why everyone should plan to visit the second-largest city in Italy at least once.
A ‘Landmark’ Tour
The top tourist places in Milan are among the primary reasons why you should plan a visit to this Italian city from majestic churches to Roman ruins, there’s a lot in store for the history buff. The gigantic medieval fortress, Castello Sforzesco, built by the Duke of Milan in the 15th century, is one such example. Today, the castle houses over 10 museums, where you can admire Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpieces. Other landmark tourist places in Milan that you can explore include Colonne de San Lorenzo, Cimitero Monumentale, Renaissance Santa Maria delle Grazie, Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio, Sempione Park, Teatro alla Scalla, and the monumental gateways of the city, like Porta Venezia, Porta Garibaldi, and Porta Ticinese Medievale.
The Timeless Art
Another thing that Milan is famous for is its art. The city houses several precious art collections and museum displays, many of which are showcased in elegant townhouses and former monasteries. The top places in Milan where you can witness awe-inspiring displays of art include Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia (National Museum of Science & Technology), Pinacoteca di Brera, Palazzo Reale di Milano, Palazzo Marino, Museo del Novecento, the Ambrosian Library, Poldi Pezzoli Museum, and the Natural History Museum.
The Historic Beauty of the Duomo
Every European city has at least one architectural site that is known the world over. Where Rome has its Colosseum, and Paris, its Eifel Tower, the top architectural site for sightseeing in Milan has to be the Duomo. Located physically and culturally in the heart of the city, the crowning glory of Milan is not only a work of art to behold but has a story to tell as well. The construction of this gothic cathedral began in 1386 and required thousands of workers, a new canal system for transporting the pink-tinged white marble from Candoglia, and 6 long centuries to complete. Replete with 135 spires and 3400 statues, the Duomo’s rooftop is open to visitors and offers sweeping views of Milan. The places to visit that you can add to your itinerary here include the statue of Madonnina, the Duomo Museum, Chiesa di San Gottardo, and the baptistry, with a combined ticket that is valid for 72 hours.
A Gastronomic Adventure
One of the top things to do in Milan for any tourist is to try the numerous delicacies of the area. Whether you are a foodie or not, the food in Milan will take your tastebuds on an adventure that will leave you wanting more. Milan is famous for its cuisine, which takes inspiration from the surrounding coasts, lakes, mountains, and farmlands, to create rich and hearty dishes with meat, rice, and pasta as their foundation. Some traditional dishes that you can try alla Milanese include Risotto, Minestrone, Polenta, Costolleta, Ossobuco, Cassoeula, Arrostino Annegato, Mondeghili, Micheta, and much more. However, the food scene in Milan is not limited to traditional dishes as it is brimming with creativity and offers curated ‘global food experiences’, both in terms of the food as well as the ambience.
Witness the Infinite Genius of Leonardo Da Vinci
Da Vinci was born in Florence but for 17 years, it was Milan that he called home. His distinctive mark can be seen across the city, as can his masterpieces. There are several things to do in Milan that let you get up close and personal with this genius’s work. You can see his fresco of entwined branches of mulberry at Sala delle Asse, or head over to gaze at the world-famous ‘Last Supper’, or you can visit the recreation of the vineyard that Da Vinci as given by Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan and Da Vinci’s patron. For those who wish to see the priceless sketches and scribblings of Da Vinci, along with scale models of his inventions, a visit to the Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia and the Leonard3 exhibition should top your list of things to do in Milan.
The Fashion Extravaganza
One of the fashion capitals of the world, for any tourist, Milan is a treasure trove of the best designers, fashion exhibits, as well as shopping opportunities. With the popularity that the fashion weeks of Milan enjoy, it’s no wonder that an entire neighbourhood is one of the places in Milan dedicated to fashion. The Quadrilatero della Moda, also called the Quad d’Oro houses a concentration of haute couture, including the flagship stores of Fendi, Gucci, Prada, and many more well-known names. On the other hand, for shopping, which is another one of the most popular things to do in Milan, you can head to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Via Dante, Corso Buenos Aires, etc. Other places to visit in Milan for some ‘flea market shopping’ include Chinatown, Viale Papiniano, Mercatone dell’Antiquariato, the Isola weekend market, and many more.
Learn about Italy’s Modern History
Rome may be the place where the country’s ancient history comes to life, but for modern history, one of the best places to visit is Milan. Counted among the top spots for sightseeing in Milan today, the Royal Palace and Sforzesco Castle are actual reminders of the oppressive regimes that once dominated Milan and offer an insight into the age of the commune when medieval dynasties ruled and feuded over Lombardy and beyond. Then you have the Museo del Risorgimento, which is among the places to visit in Milan to learn more about Italian Unification, the period that stretched from Napoleon Bonaparte’s first campaign of 1796 to 1870 when Rome was annexed into the kingdom of Italy. Even in the imposing architecture that spreads across the city, you can find traces of the fascist regime of Mussolini.
The Oldest Trams in the World
Even today, one of the best ways to reach the best places to visit in Milan is by riding the tram system. The Milan tram line has 17 urban lines that run through the streets of the city. While many have been modernised, line 1 still features some of the oldest, yellow and cream trams in the world, which were manufactured between 1928 and 1932. Of the 502 Tram Type 1928 cars, 150 are still running, carrying passengers across the city to date. Given the many modern alternatives like the metro or even the many buses that you can get, the tram system may not be the fastest way to travel, but it goes without saying, that it is one of the most indulgent. The trams allow you a glimpse into Milan’s history as you travel on the vintage but comfortable wooden benches. In fact, all Milanese trams have different distinguishing characteristics, like their colours, seats, etc., which are quite unique and recognisable, based on the era in which they were manufactured.
A perfect destination for beginning your north Italy tours and full of amazing attractions itself, Milano is a city for one and all. With so much on offer, it isn’t hard to see why Milano should be visited by everyone at least once in their lifetime.