Weekend in Milan, what to visit

Weekend in Milan, what to visit

Milan, the city of fashion and business, but also of art, culture, design and good food. The Lombardy capital offers an endless series of attractions, beauties and entertainment, ideal for who is looking for a weekend of museums and exhibitions, both for those who want to have fun in the many clubs of Milan nightlife or to devote themselves to shopping and to the good food. Here is an itinerary with the unmissable places of Milan.

The visit to the city can obviously begin with the emblem recognized all over the world: the Milan Cathedral. The works for its construction began in 1386 on the fifteenth-century Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, and were completed only at the end of 1800, giving rise to a majestic Gothic cathedral, a style that is found especially in the 135 spiers and in the wonderful stained glass windows. In 1773 the famous Madonnina was installed, covered with sheets of pure gold, the most beloved symbol of the Lombard city. It’s worth visiting the inside of the Cathedral, to admire its majestic interior, but above all to climb on the wonderful terraces where, among spiers, statues, and a stone’s throw from the gilded Madonnina, you can enjoy a priceless view over the city.

Duomo in Milan

Milan Cathedral

In Milan Cathedral’s Square, the wonderful Novecento Museum is worth a visit – the top floor of the museum is unmissable, whose glassed-in room, enriched by a luminous ceiling created by Fontana, offers a privileged view of the Piazza – and the Palazzo Reale, often theaters of important exhibitions.
Also overlooking Milan Cathedral’s Square there is the neo-Renaissance and impressive Vittorio Emanuele Gallery, called “the living room of Milan” because it’s a meeting place for the Milanese bourgeoisie, one of the first examples of a shopping center in the world. Cross it, admiring the shining windows, and don’t miss the tradition that is said to bring good luck: rotate three times on yourself with the heel of the right foot planted on the bull portrayed on the ground in the tunnel’s octagon. Continuing along the path you will be facing Piazza della Scala, where the marvelous La Scala theater rises, one of the most important in the world, in front of Palazzo Marino. The theater is worth a visit, and you can try to attend a concert or a ballet.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele [Photo credit kuhnmi]

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele [Photo credit kuhnmi] 


If you need a break from this cultural immersion, you can get lost in the Quadrilatero della Moda, where luxury boutiques and jewelers dominate Via Monte Napoleone – the fifth most expensive street in the world according to the index “Main streets across the 
world “- via della Spiga, via Manzoni and Corso Venezia. If the luxury signatures of the Quadrilatero are not to your liking, you can do the much more democratic shopping of Corso Vittorio Emanuele, via Torino and via Dante, important city streets have always been shopping destinations, but also hide palaces and unmissable sights, such as the Church of San Carlo al Corso in Vittorio Emanuele, inspired by the Pantheon, or the magnificent Casa Ferrario, an example of Art Nouveau style near via Torino.
Continuing along Via Torino, you will come across the Colonne di San Lorenzo, one of the rare survivors of Imperial Milan, in front of the Basilica of the same name, near the Porta Ticinese Medievale, a favorite meeting point for many young people in the capital. Just behind the Colonne, stands a park not very well known but very impressive: the Pope John Paul II Park, known by the citizens as Parco delle BasilicheNamed this way because framed by the Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore and that of Sant’Eustorgio, every day it’s frequented by dozens of Milanese who enjoy the sun at lunchtime or spend an afternoon in the green in the company. Crossing the whole park you arrive at the Navigli, on the renewed Darsena, the ancient port of Milan, a meeting point between the Naviglio Pavese and the Naviglio Grande, with various piers, restaurants, bars and temporary stores, today a favorite destination for aperitifs, shopping and entertainment. The walk can end on the canals, where you can not miss the historic Vicolo dei Lavandai, used until the late ’50s by women to wash clothes and linen, and the Parish of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Navigli [photo credit Rodney Topor]

Navigli [photo credit Rodney Topor]

Do not miss the modern area of Porta Nuova, which includes Porta Garibaldi, Porta Nuova Varesine and Porta Nuova Isola, an area completely redeveloped and very similar to a “little New York” in the middle of Milan. The symbols of the area are the Unicredit Tower, which with its 231 meters is the tallest skyscraper in Italy, and the Palazzo del Bosco Verticale, which won the prize for the best skyscraper in the world thanks to the International Highrise Award. Once you cross Piazza Gae Aulenti with its water features, you are on the outskirts of Isola, another young and fully qualified neighborhood, full of art galleries and clubs, so called because in the past it was divided from the rest of the city by the railway and connected to Corso Como with a pedestrian walkway.

Piazza Gae Aulenti, Milano

Piazza Gae Aulenti, Milano

For a small detour, not far, you will find the Monumental Cemetery, a cemetery characterized by a Gothic style, Liberty and Byzantine, a real open-air museum, where there are the remains of Alessandro Manzoni, Salvatore Quasimodo, together with wonderful chapels and sculptures.
Leave Porta Nuova behind you, continuing on Corso Como, the heart of the “Milano da Bere”, and passing through Porta Garibaldi take the road of the same name, which will take you to one of the most popular areas of the city: Brera. Named in this way by the word braida which means “uncultivated land”, the history of the Brera district has been marked by the Academy of Fine Arts over the years, which has attracted artists and writers into one of the most characteristic of Milan. The Academy, together with the Braidense National Library and especially the Pinacoteca di Brera – which, among others, contains the Dead Christ of Mantegna, the Kiss of Hayez, the Virgin with the Child by Piero della Francesca, and many others – are wonderful chests full of priceless treasures. Brera is not only famous for its art. The cobbled streets, often the scene of characteristic markets, offer charming views, and are full of shops for household items, florists and restaurants, very popular with the Milanese Sunday brunches. Behind the Palazzo di Via Brera, you can visit the little known “Botanical Garden”, an oasis of peace and greenery in the beautiful city center.

Pinacoteca di Brera, Milano [photo credit everbruin]

Pinacoteca di Brera, Milano [photo credit everbruin]

From here, you can continue the walk towards Sempione, reaching the homonymous green area. Parco Sempione is a huge park of English-style Romanesque, the most important one in the city, which contains important historical buildings and institutions in Milan. The park, built by the Visconti family and enlarged by the Sforza family, was a forest composed mainly of oaks and inhabited by exotic animals introduced by man. Among streams, ponds, hills and trees, the city’s green lung is one of the most popular places on the weekend, even for the numerous bars and clubs that allow you to spend an afternoon immersed in the greenery.
The Sforza Castle, in the middle of the Park, is one of the most beautiful castles in Italy, seat of the power of the Visconti first and the Sforza then, and includes many museums, including the Pinacoteca, the Egyptian Museum, the Museum of Ancient Art, the Museum of Musical Instruments and others. Besides a tour of the museums, you can also go to the discovery of the secret paths hosted by the battlements, which offer an unusual point of view on the Castle and on the Park. Inside Parco Sempione there is La Triennale di Milano, the most important Italian institution for architecture, decorative and visual arts, design, fashion and audiovisual production, which organizes conferences, film festivals, traveling exhibitions and exhibitions . Not everyone knows that here there is also the Civic Aquarium, little known but noteworthy: it’s the third oldest aquarium in Europe, built in 1906 on the occasion of the Universal Exposition, and housed in a beautiful Liberty building. Near the Sforza Castle there is the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which houses Leonardo’s famous Last Supper.

Arco della Pace, Milano [photo credit nico.cavallotto]

Arco della Pace, Milano [photo credit nico.cavallotto]

The walk can end with a dinner in the area of the Arco della Pace, monumental sculpture dedicated to peace among European nations reached in 1815 with the Congress of Vienna, also known for its vibrant nightlife and wealth of local and excellent restaurants .

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