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El Duomo is the icon of the city of Milan.
The original castle was built by the Visconti family, like the Duomo, but it was replaced by this Renaissance palace when Francesco Sforza became the new ruler in the mid-15th century. The palace itself is filled with rooms of furniture, frescoes, antiquities and artworks including a sculpture by Michelangelo.
Location: Piazza Castello
Metro: MM1 Cadorna, Cairoli; MM2 Cadorna, Lanza
Teatro alla Scala
This world-famous opera house was built in 1776 on the site of an old church, the Santa Maria della Scala, built in 1381. Each year the opening of the opera season is celebrated on December 7th, the feast day of Sant’Ambrogio, Milan’s patron saint. Enjoy seeing the sumptuous interior by attending a performance. 200 standing tickets are released 30 minutes before every performance especially for visitors to Milan. Alternatively, visit the Museo del Teatro which has costumes and sets from past performances, sculptures, paintings and theatrical items dating back to Roman times. The museum also gives a wonderful view of the auditorium with its gilt boxes, huge chandelier and trompe l’oeil three-dimensional paintings.
Location: Piazza della Scala
Metro: MM1 Duomo/Cordusio
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Even those who detest shopping will be impressed by the architecture of this magnificent shopping arcade. Beneath the 155-foot high domed glass roof there are beautiful bookshops, cafés and restaurants with old fashioned bow-fronted windows and magnificent mosaic floors. The mosaics represent four continents: Europe, America, Africa and Asia along with the signs of the zodiac. Visitors can step on the genitals of Taurus the Bull for good luck! The shopping arcade was built in 1865 and named after the king, Vittorio Emanuele II.
Location: Piazza della Scala
Metro: MM1 Duomo
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the famous gallery that connects Piazza Duomo with Piazza della Scala.
This building was the seat of administration in the 11th century, when most of Europe was still struggling in the Dark Ages. It was rebuilt in the 1330s as the headquarters of the Lords of Milan and later became Milan’s first theatre. The city now uses the building for offices and museums, including the splendid modern art collection in the Civico Museo d’Arte Contemporanea (CIMAC) on the third floor. The Palazzo Reale is also the home of the Museo del Duomo which charts the history of the Duomo from its building in the 14th century to the latest 20th century changes.
Location: Piazza del Duomo
Metro: MM 1, Piazza Duomo
These public gardens are the largest in the city and were designed by Piermarini. They are a great place to sit quietly after a heavy night out! It has three peaceful lakes, countless monuments and the 18th century Palazzo Dugnale housing Milan’s Natural Science Centre.
Location: Bastioni di Porta Venezia
Metro: Porta Venezia
For a walk with a difference, visit this cemetery which has magnificent tombs and shrines produced by Italy’s best sculptors. There is a free map to guide visitors around the 250,000 square metre site. The Famedio House of Fame is a striking reproduction of the Pantheon and there are many other ornate buildings on a miniature scale that accommodate spectacular shrines of the wealthy families of Milan.
Location: Piazzale Cimitero Monumentale
Metro: MM2 Garibaldi FS
Situated in northeast Milan, this ornate palace has a brocade facade and ornate balconies and windows. It has two entrances, supposedly so that each of the Cusano brothers could have their own access. The palace was used by the Ministry of War in the 19th century.
Location: Via Brera
Metro: MM1 Cairoli
An abundance of luxury on Via Montenapoleone.
Shopping in Milan
Designer apparel and high fashion is synonymous with Milan. Whether you are looking for designer jeans or some excellent pasticcerie (pastries) to take home, you will find them in the city centre. The Fashion Quadrilateral for designer gear is between Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga, Via Manzoni and Via Sant’Andrea. The areas of Brera and Navigli are filled with antique markets. For gourmet food gifts, visit Peck on Via Spadari 9 which is the equivalent of Harrods in London.
The cozy neighborhood 'Navigli'
Getting Around Milan
It is easy to get around Milan on foot for those who are young and fit. For longer distances the bus network is good. Buses and their signs are orange and most bus stops are on islands in the centre of the street. Tickets should be purchased from ticket machines, newsstands and tobacconists before getting on the bus. The Metro subway has three lines numbered 1-3, and is the easiest, cheapest and quickest way to get around. It runs from 06.00 to 00.30 and stamped tickets can also be used on other modes of public transport. There are always plenty of taxis in Milan, although they can be expensive.
The tram is an important type of transportation in Milan (Piazza Cordusio here).
Luxury Car Factory Tours in Bologna
If you have time to stay longer, Bologna is about 200km from Milan and is home to several car factories which offer tours and museums. The Ferrari Factory Tour is fascinating but you need to pre-arrange it through a local dealership. Other tours include Italian sports car and motorbike manufacturers Lamborghini, Maserati, Pagani and Ducati.