Italy’s fashion capital has recently become one of top destinations in Italy! Your first stop (mandatory for anyone visiting town) is Milan’s Cathedral, affectionately called Duomo (Piazza Duomo) in the city center. Admire at one of Italy’s finest examples of Gothic architecture and be sure to visit the rooftops (via stairs or elevator) for a wonderful view and close up of Milan’s Madonnina – the golden statue that tops the cathedral and is the symbol of the city of Milan.
Piazza Duomo is the center of it all, here you can find two of the city’s main museums: Palazzo Reale and the Museo del Novecento. You’ll also find Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II, one of the oldest ‘shopping malls.’ Make your way down the arcade to the central area (topped by the dome). On the marble floor search for the image of Turin’s bull – usually surrounded by a crowd. Here you’ll have to keep with tradition and place your heel on the bull’s testicles and spin around three times clockwise for good luck.
Take a break at one of the many local eateries includingLuini’s panzerotti (fried calzone), Spontini’s historic pizza by the slice, the trendy new il Mercato del Duomo and Cioccolati Italiani for a yummy dessert! Continue along via Dante towards the XV century Sforzesco Castle built by Francesco Sforza Duke of Milan. Spot for a visit in the many galleries housed in the museum including the Museo della Pietà Rondanini, where you’ll find Michelangelo’s last artwork. After a tour through the castle take a stroll through Parco Sempione (former castle grounds). In the park you’ll find Milan’s design museum, the Triennale di Milano (Viale Alemagna 6). Exit the park opposite the castle where you’ll stumble upon the Arco della Pace and take your pick from one of the many bars along Corso Sempione to top off your first day with an authentic Milanese experience – aperitivo! Aperitivo or happy hour, usually takes place after work, when locals go out for a drink and can enjoy a bite (or buffet that accompanies your drink).
Day two begins at Piazza Gae Aulenti (Porta Nuova), Milan’s trendy ‘new’ hotspot. Proceed towards Corso Como, another trendy spot, popular with Milan’s fashion crowd lined with a few unique shops. Take a peak inside 10 Corso Como an art gallery, boutique and café; great to grab a bite or an aperitivo on the rooftop garden. You’ll also find more design items at High Tech (Piazza XXV Aprile 12). Next stop is the Brera district with its narrow streets, unique boutiques, cafés and the famous Brera Art Gallery where you’ll find works by Raphael, Canova and Hayez to mention a few. Enjoy lunch in one of the many nearby restaurants. Continue along Via Borgonuovo towards Via Monte di Pietà where you’ll end up in Milan’s exclusive shopping district – quadrilaterodellamoda, composed of four main streets (Via Manzoni, Via della Spiga, Corso Venezia and Via Montenapoleone) that make a square here you’ll find all the top luxury labels.
If shopping is not your thing, hop on the picturesque Tram #1 (towards Piazza Castelli) for a short scenic ride. You should get off the tram at Cadorna station – the one with the statue of a huge needle with green and red thread. The next stop is Santa Maria delle Grazie (Corso Magenta), home of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper, located off of Via Carducci. It is advisable to book your visit to the Last Supper in advance, however you may be lucky and be allowed last minute entry. Resume the journey for another Da Vinci experience at the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e Tecnologia (Via San Vittore, 21). Complete day two with a stop at Mercato Metropolitano ( Via Valenza 2), (near the museum, get on the metro at Sant’Ambrogio to Porta Genova. From there, it’s a short walk to the market), one of the many new venues around town that opened with the arrival of Expo, get lost amidst the many stands with delicious offerings. After you have had your fill, feet permitting, take a stroll along the Navigli (canals) and call it a (very long) day!
written by Vanessa Viara