Discover Milan and its attractions
Places not to be missed, in and around Milan
Just around the corner from Palazzo Parigi, Milan shows its most fascinating and catching side. History, culture, arts, architecture and fashion live side by side here and can be enjoyed at their fullest. And at just a few miles from the city you can visit stunning places, such as the Lake of Como, the Lake Maggiore or ancient little towns.
The true emblem of the city, founded in the 14th century and dedicated to Saint Mary Nascent, its majestic marble presence towers over the piazza of the same name. In late Gothic style, this is the third major Catholic church in the world, after Saint Peter in Rome and the cathedral of Seville: it is 518 ft. long, 305 ft. wide and 354 ft. high (height of the main spire), with an internal area of over 126,000 sq. ft. Its decorations are absolutely amazing, with over 3,400 statues, mostly distributed among its 135 steeples. Besides the stained-glass windows, the monument to Gian Giacomo Medici is also of great value.
Quadrilatero della Moda (Fashion District)
Via Montenapoleone, Via Borgospesso, Via Santo Spirito, Via Gesù, Via S. Andrea and Via della Spiga enclose the area known as "quadrilatero della moda", literally, the "quadrilateral of fashion", a network of ancient patrician streets which are now one of the most incredible concentration of exclusive boutiques in the world, a true, stylish shopping heaven, with the presence of the most renowned Italian and international brands in fashion and jewellery.
Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square)
A truly imposing rectangular piazza surrounding the Duomo, which marks the centre of the city. Overlooking the square, beside the cathedral itself, are Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Palazzo Reale and Palazzo dell'Arengario.
Nicknamed "il salotto di Milano" (Milan's drawing room), this arcade connects Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Scala. Built by Mengoni (1865-1878), its peculiarities are two glass-vaulted arcades intersecting in the centre to form an octagon. The Galleria is acknowledged as the world's oldest shopping mall, forerunner of the modern American ones: still today, under its vaults it hosts boutiques by some of the most famous Italian and international brands.
Together with the Duomo, this is among the most representative buildings of the city - an extensive, majestic stronghold dating to the Renaissance. On its grounds, you can visit the castle's Museums: Milan's collections of ancient arts, archaeology and numismatics, a picture gallery and Milan's applied arts collections. Of particular interest, Michelangelo Buonarroti's Rondanini Pietà marble statue.
Pinacoteca di Brera (Brera Picture Gallery)
At Via Brera, not far from Palazzo Parigi, you will find the Brera Art Gallery, among the most important Italian picture galleries, with hundreds of masterpieces including Raphael's The Marriage of the Virgin and Piero della Francesca's so called Brera Madonna.
Santa Maria delle Grazie and Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper
Among the major Renaissance buildings of Milan, the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie boasts a dome by Bramante at his best. Left to the church, a wall of the ancient dining hall of the Dominican friary features the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, the famous fresco painted by the artist between 1495-97, when he worked at the court the Sforzas, then dukes of Milan.
A neoclassical palace by architect Piermarini (1778), which since its building has hosted a series of sovereign, including Maria Theresa of Austria, Napoleon Bonaparte, Ferdinand I and the Savoia kings of Italy. Renowned artists celebrated the glories of kings and emperors by embellishing the palace with beautiful works of art, from paintings to furniture. Today it hosts the Milan's Museum of Contemporary Art, besides shows and touring exhibitions.
This is the most important cemetery in the world with regards to the works of art it hosts (statues, chapels, funerary shrines), a true gallery of late 19th and 20th century Lombardy sculpture and architecture.
Borromean Islands, Lake Maggiore
About 30 miles west of Milan, on the Piedmont side of the Lake Maggiore, between Stresa and Baveno, there are three small and utterly charming islands: Isola Bella (beautifal island), Isola dei Pescatori (fishermen's island) e Isola Madre (mother island). Isola Bella is the most picturesque of the three: its small area is almost entirely taken over by Palazzo Borromeo, a majestic Baroque building surrounded by a scenic park with an enchanted landscaped garden. On Isola Madre, besides another Borromeo palace, the botanic gardens are of particular interest, rich in exotic plants and flowers. Isola dei Pescatori is renowned for its quaint village of small houses, narrow roads and winding inclines.
Lake of Como
25 miles from Milan, since the 18th century the Lake of Como has been an international tourist attraction, thanks to its amazingly beautiful landscape. On its shores stayed Napoleon, Franz Listz, Queen Victoria, John Kennedy, Alfred Hitchcock and many, many others. It boasts the highest density of historic villas on a lake in the world. Among them, Villa Carlotta at Tremezzo stands out: once owned by Princess Carlotta of Nassau and now turned into a botanic garden of extraordinary value, it also hosts Neoclassical works of art by Canova, Thorvaldsen and Hayez. Among the most renowned towns: Cernobbio, Lenno, Tremezzo, Cadenabbia, Menaggio and Bellagio on the Como bank, and Varenna on the Lecco bank.
Museo del Novecento (Museum of the 20th Century)
Opened in 2010, the museum is located inside Palazzo dell'Arengario and hosts around 400 works of art ranging from Futurism to Metaphysics, from Spatialism to Transavantgarde. Here you can marvel at works by Boccioni, Modigliani, De Chirico, Sironi and Fontana. Also to be admired, the famous painting Il quarto stato (The Fourth Estate) by Pellizza da Volpedo (1901) and the small statue by Boccioni Forme uniche della continuità nello spazio (Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 1913), which is reproduced on the Italian 20 cents Euro coin.
Overlooking the square of the same name, this church is the major example of the Romanesque-Lombardy style. The basilica is preceded by a mystic rectangular portico with an arcade featuring decorated pillars and bands, overlooked by the imposing hut-style facade, displaying two orders of loggias. The church's interior boasts fine works, including pulpit, tabernacle, antependium and the golden altar.
Museo della Scienza e della Tecnica (Science and Technology Museum)
Not far from Sant'Ambrogio, hosted by a former monastery located between Via Olano and Via S. Vittore, this museum was opened in 1953 to document science and industrial technology.