Fashion, design, luxury, art and history, Milan is a many-faced city in the northern region of Italy. Thanks to such international events as the Milan Fashion Week or the Milan Furniture Fair, this city has been recognized as the global capital of fashion, design and business.
In this article I am going to discuss the top five landmarks and activities you can’t miss from your list while visiting Milan. Let’s see what this city can offer to its visitors!
Duomo di Milano / Milan Cathedral
The Duomo is not just the emblematic landmark of the city of Milan, it is the largest church of Italy as well. But did you know that it took six centuries to complete this monumental cathedral? The groundbreaking was in 1386, but officially the Duomo was completed only in 1965.
Once you arrive at the Piazza del Duomo you will notice the immense crowd standing in a line to get into the cathedral. Actually, there are two lines: the one at the front entrance leads to the interior of the cathedral and the other one at the left leads up to the rooftop. To get to the end of the lines takes some time, maybe hours, so be smart and start with the rooftop line! There is an elevator from the rooftop with direct access to the inside of the cathedral, so this way you can skip waiting hours again in the other line as well.
Getting to the rooftop is a must, you can see how different styles of architecture meet and mix into an exciting balance. Also, don’t forget to visit the Piazza del Duomo at night, the lights of the cathedral are just amazing!
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
In the center of the city, right next to the Duomo you can find Italy’s oldest active shopping mall. This four-story double arcade building is the perfect place to wear that fancy dress you packed for the trip! Walking under the truly amazing iron-and-glass roof, you will find several luxury retailers selling clothes, bags, shoes, jewelry, painting and many others.
In case you get tired of visiting the expensive stores of luxury brands, you can enjoy a meal or a drink at one of the oldest and finest cafés, bars or restaurants of Milan. On a side note, in 2012 a McDonald’s restaurant was prevented by the city of Milan to renew its lease agreement. McDonald’s vainly sued the city, the restaurant was eventually replaced by the second Prada store of the Galleria.
San Bernardino alle Ossa
When stepping into the church of San Bernardino alle Ossa, forget about all your memories and previous experiences of visiting other churches. Although there is nothing special or strange about the outside of the church, this visit will be totally different. The church is famous for its ossuary, a small chapel decorated with human bones and skulls. Sounds creepy, right?
The chamber was built in 1210 to house human bones from the close cemetery, and then in 1269 a small church was added as well. The decoration dates to 1679, when Giovanni Andrea Biffi started restoration work on the chapel and decided to decorate the walls with bones, skulls and tibiae. While checking out the collection of bones on the walls, don’t forget to look up to the skulls looking down at you from the ceiling.
The Last Supper / L’Ultima Cena
In case you’re ready to see one of the most recognizable paintings of the world, you’re in the perfect place! The city of Milan houses Leonardo da Vinci’s world-famous painting, The Last Supper. It is located in the city center, in the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
The painting has a biblical theme, it represent the last supper of Jesus with his twelve apostles just before he was crucified. The masterpiece went through several damages and unsuccessful attempts of restoration. For example a doorway was cut through the painting, later bricked up, but this damage can still be seen.
Today, The Last Supper is highly valued and protected. You will have to pre-book your visit. They let a group of 25 people enter the convent solely with a guide and you will have exactly 15 minutes to admire the painting, then you will be kindly asked to leave.
The Retro Trams of Milan
When in Milan, don’t hesitate to hop on the trams, they are absolutely charming! You will not just be able to see the city while getting from point A to point B, but you will have an amazing travel experience as well! The inside area of these trams make you feel like you are in an old movie. The wood-paneled seats and the old-fashioned lamps gives that specific retro feeling you can’t find anywhere else in this modern city of fashion and business.
Those who have visited such Italian cities as Rome, Venice or Florence, will easily notice how Milan is different and more European than the other cities of Italy. Milan with its crowded shopping streets and luxurious restaurants has got that “big city feeling” no other Italian city can give the visitors. Visiting Milan gives the opportunity to explore more of the Italian lifestyle, so don’t hesitate, go see for yourself!