Things to see in Milan

Before being the fashion and financial capital of Italy, Milan is a city full of things to discover and do. There are many places to visit in Milan, and we are not just talking about the Duomo!
Milan is a pulsating city, it is a city where every day ends with something more than it started in the morning, Milan is made to measure for the Milanese and the Milanese made to measure for Milan. Milan is the city of the aperitif, the Navigli, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, but also of the murals at the Fabbrica del Vapore and the ‘Milan Street Hi-story’. Milan has a thousand faces. All to be discovered!
So… what to visit in Milan?

  • The Duomo

The Duomo is certainly the symbol par excellence of the city and must be at the top of your list of places to visit in Milan. The construction was ordered in 1300 by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, of the historical family of the same name, and combines Gothic and Lombard styles. While the main spire ‘houses’ the famous Madonnina (a 4-metre high gilded copper statue… doesn’t look like it from down there, eh?!), the Duomo is adorned with no less than 3500 statues! Take advantage of your visit to Milan to enter the Duomo: climb to the top and watch the sunset over the city and admire the view of the Alps. Because Milan is Milan.
Address: Piazza del Duomo
Admission: 2€; including terraces 9€

  • Navigli

The Navigli have a system of locks that was designed by Leonardo Da Vinci himself in the 15th century (still visible today) and housed numerous merchants’ and craftsmen’s workshops, this being a flourishing point for trade. Today, some historic shops are still there, but the Navigli is above all the place where the nights of the Milanese and young people visiting the city begin.
To go back in time, don’t miss the Vicolo Lavandai, where the atmosphere typical of 1950s Milan still lives on.

  • Sforzesco Castle

Built in the heart of the city by Francesco Sforza on the ruins of the Porta Giova Castle, commissioned by Galeazzo II Visconti and destroyed during the Ambrosian Republic (later rebuilt), today it houses several museums such as the Museum of Ancient Art, the Picture Gallery and the Museum of Prehistory and Protohistory and the Egyptian Museum.
Address: Piazza Castello
Admission: Free (museum entrance 3€)

  • Murals

The art scene in Milan has always been vibrant and active. Obviously, the same can be said of Milanese ‘street art’: although there is no real dedicated area, the ‘pieces’, as they are called in jargon, are spread all over the city and the best thing is simply to walk around Milan and be surprised at every corner you turn.
If you don’t have much time in the city, you could start in the centre, in particular at the Basilica of San Lorenzo (Corso di Porta Ticinese, 39), near the columns of the same name (a meeting point for young Milanese) where the ‘Milan Street Hi-story’ took place: a wall of over 40 metres adorned with the works of some of Italy’s most talented writers will surprise your eyes!
Another focal point of the Milanese art scene is certainly the Isola-Garibaldi area where the Escoadisola project (reproposed for the Greco station) has embellished the subway of Via Pepe and given rise to an artistic redevelopment of the area’s street art. Moving a bit to the suburbs, don’t miss the Martesana Park!

  • Garibaldi area

Since the central railway station was moved from Piazza della Repubblica, many spaces in the city centre were left empty and were therefore redeveloped through the Porta Nuova project that involved the central districts of Garibaldi, Isola and Varesine.
Head to Piazza Gae Aulenti to admire the Unicredit Tower (Italy’s tallest skyscraper) and the nearby Bosco verticale. Pass also via Farini and via Borsieri to visit the Brand New Gallery, the Figural Observatory and Les Mots bookshop.

  • Sinigaglia Fair

Every Saturday from 8am to 6pm, the Fiera di Sinigaglia, one of Italy’s largest flea markets, takes place in the Ticinese quarter. Here you can find everything from vintage to modern antiques. Take advantage of it to look for bargains and show off your bargaining skills.
Address: Ripa di Porta Ticinese
Admission: Free

  • La Triennale

The Triennale di Milano, housed in the Palazzo dell’Arte Bernocchi, collects works of art and design, works of architecture, fashion, cinema and hosts the Triennale Design Museum (since 2007) and the Teatro dell’Arte (since 2011). Although the cost is quite high, we definitely recommend a visit.
Address: Viale Emilio Alemagna, 6
Ticket: 15€

  • Prada Foundation

This is an excellent example of Milanese patronage where, thanks to the company of the same name, the Sis distillery (where Cavallino Rosso brandy was produced) has been converted into a cultural and artistic space with over 19,000 square metres of exhibition space. Also worth a visit are the Bar Luce, which we told you about in this article on where to eat in Milan.

  • Brera

The Accademia delle Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts) and the Pinacoteca (Art Gallery) are the two spearheads of this district somewhere between bohemian and chic. The Pinacoteca (Via Brera 28; Ticket: €10) houses one of the world’s finest and richest early 20th century collections with the likes of Modigliani, Morandi and Braque in a wonderful 18th century building. But (most importantly?) this is where you must come to sample some of the city’s best aperitifs!

  • Hangar Bicocca

Another example of Milanese patronage is Hangar Bicocca, an art space converted from an industrial factory in 2004. At 15,000 square metres, it is among the largest exhibition spaces in Europe. In addition to numerous temporary exhibitions, Hangar Bicocca permanently houses Kiefer’s Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015 and Melotti’s The Sequence (in the outdoor garden).
Address: Via Chiese 2
Ticket: Free
What to visit in Milan?

  • Duomo
  • Navigli
  • Sforzesco Castle
  • Murals
  • Garibaldi area
  • Sinigaglia Fair
  • La Triennale
  • Prada Foundation
  • Brera
  • Hangar Bicocca

Many thanks to Harmishhk, Filip Maljković, Alexandre Dulaunoy, asbruff, Bruno Corfioli, Davide Oliva and Luca Viscardi for the beautiful photos on Flickr!

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