My father trying to teach me the Italian names of flowers is my dearest childhood memory. It is no wonder that I have developed a passion for one of the world’s most fascinating cultures. My semi-nomadic lifestyle allowed me to enjoy the beauty of all Italian cities, but Milan has conquered my heart and soul forever.
Is Milan worth visiting? The answer to this question is an outright yes. Located in the picturesque region of Lombardy (Northern Italy), the city is the country’s financial hotspot which sets the trend in international fashion. Its historical past and impressive cultural heritage make it a top European destination for tourists worldwide.
Art galleries, Gothic constructions, Renaissance palaces, super-cool clubs, and sophisticated designer shops rival for the visitors’ attention.
Once you have walked its vibrant streets, drunk its coffee and tasted its mouth-watering cuisine, you will understand why so many people return to this place year after year.
6 Top Milanese Attraction to Fall in Love With
To come up with a Milan must-see list is not an easy task for a traveler. The abundance of monuments, parks, and museums makes the selection arduous but pleasant.
Here are the places I headed for when I toured this Italian metropolis for the first time:
Milan Cathedral or “Il Duomo”
This iconic structure, built in a Gothic style displays the skill and mastery of long-forgotten Milanese sculptures and builders. The 2245 marble statues are an impressive sight even for veteran excursionists.
While inside, you can admire its massive pillars, the stained-glass windows, an oversized bronze chandelier, and San Carlo Borromeo’s reliquary covered in jewels and gold.
The Borromeo Chapel also serves as the resting place for Gian Giacomo Medici, a highly influential Renaissance figure.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper
You have seen its replica in lots of unexpected places so you might have the impression that you know all its details by heart.
Believe me when I tell you that the encounter with the influential and puzzling painting will leave you in a state of wonder. Leonardo’s masterpiece is housed in Santa Maria Delle Grazie Church. Despite being massively bombed during World War II; the construction stands up proud.
Good to know: be prepared for a painting on the wall and not for a canvas.
Tip: purchase your ticket in advance; the custodians allow only 20 visitors every 15 minutes.
Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II
Packed with luxurious boutiques and dashing cafés, “La Galleria” is favored by fashionistas and prime Hollywood stars. It is a splendid structure made of iron and glass. Built in the 19th century, it spreads a serene and peaceful atmosphere, which determined the locals to nickname it “il salotto”.
Tip for bookaholics: spend at least several hours in “Libreria Rizzoli Galleria” with its three large floors.
Tip for shopaholics: take a few steps out of the Galleria and enter “La Rinascente”, an arcade area with fashionable and trendy stores.
Its medieval walls protect and host twelve museums and art galleries. You can contemplate a vast array of paintings by Correggio, Bellini, Foppa, Tintoretto, and other virtuosi.
Good to know: Michelangelo’s last unfinished sculpture is put on display here; the artist died before giving his final touch to “La Pietà Rondanini”.
Tip: a full ticket costs only €5.
Pinacoteca di Brera
The construction of the imposing palace took more than a century. Finished in 1773, it became available for the public at large in 1809. Here, you will find more than 500 works of art signed by Titian, Caravaggio, Raphael or De Chirico.
Traveler’s Tip: The Brera Neighborhood is renowned for its bohemian character; street artists will entertain you while fortune tellers will read your destiny in the palm of your hand.
Teatro alla Scala or simply La Scala
Composers and musicians dream to perform on the famous La Scala stage. The construction can welcome an audience of 2,800 people.
the season begins in early December and ends in May
book your tickets online
Do not skip the exhibit of costumes worn during emblematic performances
Milan does not reveal all its secrets at once. The more you look, the more you will fall for its priceless beauty.
3 Off the Beaten Track Sights
Do not be afraid to explore the maze of streets and boulevards. You never know where a narrow alley might lead.
My wanders took me to:
The Mysterious San Vittore al Corpo Church
Located at a stone’s throw from the National Museum of Science and Technology, this sanctuary has marvelous painted arches. The interior is sumptuous with exquisite canvases.
Tip: metro MM2 will take straight to the basilica
Which hiding point is better than the one located in plain sight? Leonardo’s Vineyard is a unique museum placed in the city center. It is an oasis of peace and relaxation where tourists contemplate Leonardo’s vines.
Good to know: a tour will take 25 minutes of your time
The precise Japanese cuisine meets fervent Brazilian dishes in this hip restaurant. The place ranks high among young Milaneses who want to treat their taste buds with something different.
Tip: order sushi with a glass of caipirinha.
Accommodation for All Budget
Whether in Milan for business or pleasure, you will find accommodation to live up to your standards. Luxurious, boutique or budget hotels are almost everywhere.
Prices vary from 22.50 euros to 64.50 euros per night for a 3-star hotel. Costs level up for 4- star hotels where you have to pay from 50 to 192.00 euros a night.
Lavishing interiors, pampering, and holistic spa treatments are available at Bulgari Milan Hotel.
Tip: Babila Hostel is cheap but charming; it is not far from the city’s main attractions plus it offers live performance during the weekend.
Where and What to Eat in Milan?
First-time visitors want to try authentic pasta and pizza. But the Italian cuisine has more to delight you with. Ossobuco, risotto alla Milanese, polenta or panzerotti are some of the dishes worth risking your weight.
It is not uncommon to discover a traditional trattoria close to a gourmet restaurant. Piazza del Duomo or the banks of the Navigli canals are popular among food-minded tourists.
Give a chance to:
Start your mornings the Milanese way, with a freshly baked panzerotti. Somewhere between a donut and a Panini, this tasty local pastry is nutritious and healthy. The best Panzerotti is served at Luini’s, near the Dome. The bakery has been attracting customers for over fifty years now. Panzerotti with mozzarella and tomatoes is the star of the house.
Good to know: hundreds of famished people go to Luini’s every day, so be prepared to stand in a line.
It is not difficult to find a top rated restaurant in Milan. Refined and sophisticated, El Brellin has a superb view of the Naviglio Grande Canal.
The hip and the posh appreciate its impeccable service. It is a stroke of luck to get a table here. But once you are in, sip an old wine and order a plate of langoustine ravioli. Other specialties include risotto with pumpkin flowers or “cotoletta alla Milanese” (veal ribs).
Trattoria Albero Fiorito
Away from the bustling crowd, “la trattoria” has a serene atmosphere and a delicious traditional Milanese menu.
Good to know: all the ingredients are bought from the local market; thus, the dishes change from one season to another.
It would be a pity to leave Milan without having a bite of:
Risotto alla Milanese
The Italians have managed to turn a common food like rice into a delicacy with the help of two simple ingredients: butter and saffron. By mixing them, you get the creamiest and tastiest risotto ever. Chef Cesare Battisti masters the “risotto art” like no one else. To try his dishes, you should book a table at “Ratana”.
Cotoletta alla Milanese
This super-savory veal cutlet is pan-fried in butter. To make sure that the dish is a success, chefs use only meat from a milk-fed veal. Go to Trattoria del Nuovo Macello to indulge in Giovanni Traversone’s cotoletta. It is rosy, juicy, thick, and above all palatable.
Cassouela is a savory pork and cabbage stew. It contains pig ears, tail, feet, and nose which give this dish a special taste. Matteo Fronduti, a talented chef at Manna Ristorante cooks all these separately, roasts them and then adds a touch of vinegar.
How to Move Around Milan?
As a tourist, you’d better take advantage of the MilanoCard. It is valid up to 72 hours and it allows you to travel without a ticket on all means of public transport.
You even receive your own driver for one taxi ride. Plus, you get free access to numerous attractions and discounts in various restaurants and shops.
Reaching your destination is not a problem in the Italian metropolis. Here are the options you have:
Although it has got only 4 lines, it stretches over a surface of 63 miles.
Its 18 lines function till late at night, even after midnight.
There are over 80 local bus lines in Milan.
Cheap and comfortable, taxis can help you get out of a jam.
Good to know:
they rarely stop when somebody hails them in the street
you need to walk to a taxi stop or book in advance
When is the best time of the year to visit Milan?
The city is ravishing no matter the season. Summer months come with high temperatures and burning sun. However, the streets are jammed with visitors. Another busy month is December when people rush into shops and enjoy the winter fairs.
The months of March and April are a bit quitter since there are no fashion galas. Late autumn brings rain, lower temperatures, and fewer visitors.
May and early autumn are the most suitable for city tours because the weather is pleasant and you do not have to stand in very long queues.
What are the visa requirements for Italy?
Visitors coming from other European Union countries, the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand can enter the country without a visa. This condition is applied only if your vacation does not exceed 90 days. In case you plan to stay longer, you must apply for a Permit to Stay.
European Union citizens are allowed to cross the border with their ID card. Those coming from non-EU counties have to show their passports. These need to be in good condition and valid for a minimum of six months after departure from the county of origin.
When you come to Milan, leave movie stereotypes aside. People here enjoy having fun but they also work hard for what they have. Be prepared for cosmopolitan vibes and a fast-paced lifestyle.
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