Milan - Anything other than fashion? Italy

Milan - Anything other than fashion?

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Forgotten by too many travellers when visiting Italy as it is more commonly known for its fashion and rather than its culture, Milan is somewhere you should stick on your itinerary. Granted, it can be slightly more brazen than other Italian cities, but it also has some breathtaking architecture and intriguing museums.

Day 1  - The largest Gothic Cathedral in the world

Like all Italian cities, you can get around Milan on foot and by sticking to the footpaths and steering clear of the metro and buses you will see more of Italy’s wealthiest city. Standing proud in the centre of the city, and undoubtedly its number one attraction is Il Duomo, the city’s famed cathedral. 500 years in the making, work began on this wondrous place of worship in 1386 and wasn’t finished until 1837. Today, it is the world’s largest Gothic Cathedral.

Just outside the cathedral is Piazza deil Duomo, the true heart of Milan. Constantly populated by a mix of locals and tourists, it is one of the best places in the city to people watch. In the centre of the square stands the imposing statue of Vittorio Emanuele II. The square is one of the city’s most vibrant hubs thanks to the shops, museums, bars and restaurants which surround it.

Museo Teatrale/Teatro alla Scala, which is just around the corner from Milan’s central square, is a must for those passionate about opera. Built in 1381, the museum chronicles the history of the museum, while if you want to witness a performance in one the world’s most renowned opera houses, you can pick up tickets for as little as €10.

South-east of Milan’s city centre is the Navigli district. The streets around this area are peppered with an impressive fusion of bars and restaurants and it is worth jumping on a bus to visit the area at night.

Day 2  - Napoleon's personal art gallery

While Milan’s Brera district is one of the city’s more upmarket areas, it is still worth taking the time out to see how the city’s more upper-class locals dwell. This is, at the end of the day, Italy’s wealthiest city. Right in the middle of the district’s main thoroughfare is the Brera Picture Gallery (Pinacotea di Brera), Milan’s best art gallery. Opened by Napoleon back in 1809, he used this building to house paintings he stole from churches and other places over the years. Similar to the Louvre in Paris, this gallery is enormous and you need to dedicate a full half day to see be able to truly appreciate it.

The Brera Picture Gallery is planted in between Milan’s two city centre parks – Parco Sempione to the west and Giardini Pubblici to the east. Both are nice places to unwind for a few hours but the latter has more charm, is better maintained and doesn’t seem to attract as many ‘shady’ characters.

At the northern tip of Brera is Porta Garibaldi. Like Navigli, this part of town also has a good selection of traditional bars, wineries, and nightclubs.

Day 3  - The Last Supper

While the Brera Picture Gallery is Milan’s best art gallery, it doesn’t house Milan’s most famous painting – this honour is held by Santa Maria delle Grazie where you will find Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. This is the painting he famously spent years lying on his back painting. It has deteriorated since it was painted due to the surface in which Da Vinci painted on but thankfully it has been restored over the years.

Considering its status as (arguably) the fashion capital of Europe, walking around Milan’s premier shopping streets is a great way to do some people watching. Best known of all is an area known as Quadrilateral which is formed by Via Montenapoleone, Via Sant’Andrea, Via Monzani and Via della Spiga. When window shopping through the shops which cater for Milan’s wealthier fraternity becomes slightly frustrating, make your way over to the Ticiese area where shops deal in more affordable goods.

If you are looking for a way to spend your evening which doesn't involve bars, nightclubs or tavernas, try to catch a show in Teatro alla Scalla if you haven’t already. Otherwise, take a stroll around the centre as it is just as pretty at night as it is during the day, particularly the Duomo.

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