Weekend in Milan

Weekend in Milan

Milan is the city of fashion and business, but also of art, culture, design and good food. The city offers an endless number of attractions, ideal for those looking for a weekend of museums and exhibitions, for food lovers, and for those willing to have a two-days shopping break.

Here’s our two-days itinerary:

First day

You must begin the Milan’s tour visiting the main symbol of the city: the Cathedral. Works began in 1386 and were concluded only at the end of 1800, creating a majestic Gothic cathedral, famous for the 135 spires and the beautiful and huge stained glass windows. In 1773 there was installed the famous “Madonnina”, a Vigin Mary’s statue covered with pure gold, still the most beloved symbol of the Lombard city. It is worth going inside the Cathedral to admire its impressive interior, but especially going up on the beautiful terraces, where you will enjoy a priceless view over the city. In the summer, do not miss the film festival and the concerts organized on the Terraces.

Duomo in Milan

Duomo in Milan

In Piazza del Duomo there is also the wonderful Museo del Novecento – on the last floor there is an impressive luminous ceiling designed by Fontana – and Palazzo Reale, that often house important exhibitions.
Overlooking the Cathedral, the Neo-Renaissance Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the Milanese bourgeoisie hangout, is one of the first examples of shopping centers. Go through it, admiring the glittering shop windows, and do not miss the tradition that is said to bring good luck: rotate three times with the heel of your right foot on the bull portrayed in the octagon of the gallery’s ground. Once you’ve crossed the gallery, you’ll get to Piazza della Scala, where there is the wonderful opera house La Scala, one of the most important theatres in the world. The theater it’s worth a visit and, if you can, try to attend a concert.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele [Photo credit kuhnmi]

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele [Photo credit kuhnmi]

If you need a break from this cultural immersion, you can lose yourself in the Quadrilatero della Moda, full of luxury boutiques and jewelers: Via Monte Napoleone – the fifth most expensive street in the world according to the ‘Main Streets across the world ” index – via della Spiga, via Manzoni and Corso Venezia. If you’re not so into those luxury brands, you can shop in the far more democratic Corso Vittorio Emanuele, via Torino and via Dante, major streets hiding buildings and must-see sights such as the Church of San Carlo in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, inspired by the Pantheon, or the magnificent Casa Ferrario, art nouveau example near via Torino.
Walking through via Torino, you will meet the Columns of San Lorenzo, one of the rare survivors of the Imperial period, near the Porta Ticinese Medievale, many young people’s favorite meeting point. Right behind the columns, there a not so well known but very charming park: the Pope John Paul II Park, known by local people as Parco delle Basiliche, framed by Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore and the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio, very popular with locals. Crossing the park you get to the Navigli area, on the Darsena, the ancient port of Milan, the meeting point between the Naviglio Pavese and Naviglio Grande, completely renewed during EXPO 2015 with piers, restaurants, bars and temporary stores, now a favorite location for cocktails, shopping and entertainment. Here, you’ll have to see the historical Vicolo dei Lavandai, used until the end of the 1950 by women to wash clothing and linens.
If you have time, you can have a tour of canals discovering the old Milan, alternatively, you can end the day with a drink or dinner in one of the many clubs in the Navigli area, always very popular with citizens and tourists.

Navigli [photo credit Rodney Topor]

Navigli [photo credit Rodney Topor]

Second day
The second day’s tour begins in the modern area of Porta Nuova, which includes Porta Garibaldi, Porta Nuova and Porta Nuova Isola Varesine, full of skyscrapers and modern buildings. The symbols of the area are the Unicredit Tower, 231 meters tall, the tallest skyscraper in Italy, and the Bosco Verticale, which won the award for best skyscraper in the world thanks to the International Highrise Award. Once you’ve crossed Piazza Gae Aulenti with its water features, during the summer you’ll assist at an unusual event right in the middle of a city: the wheat harvest. “Wheatfield” is an environmental work of art inaugurated in Porta Nuova in 2015, a real cornfield where every day you can walk around looking at the grain growth. The camp is located in the Isola neighborhood (“Island” in Italian), another young and redeveloped district, filled with art galleries and local, so called because in the past it was divided from the rest of the city by rail and connected to Corso Como with a pedestrian walkway.

Piazza Gae Aulenti, Milano

Piazza Gae Aulenti, Milano

For those wishing to take a little detour, not far you will find the Monumental Cemetery, a Gothic, Byzantine and liberty cemetery, a real open-air museum, where lie the Alessandro Manzoni, Salvatore Quasimodo and other’s important artists remains, along with chapels and wonderful sculptures.

Continuing on Corso Como, the heart of the Milan nightlife, you should arrive close to one of the most popular areas of the city: Brera. The story of the Brera district has been marked over the years by the Academy of Fine Arts, which attracted artists and writers turning it into one of the most characteristic neighborhood of Milan. The Academy, together with the National Library and especially the Pinacoteca di Brera – which, among others, houses the Dead Christ by Mantegna, The Kiss by Hayez, the Virgin and Child by Piero della Francesca, and many others – are full of priceless treasures. Brera is not only famous for its art: the cobbled streets, often full of weekly markets, offer picturesque views, and plenty of shops selling household items, flower shops and cafes, popular for Sunday brunches. Behind the Palace of Via Brera there is the little-known “Botanical Garden”, an oasis of peace in the very center of the city.

Pinacoteca di Brera, Milano [photo credit everbruin]

Pinacoteca di Brera, Milano [photo credit everbruin]

After having had a cup of tea in one of the many cafes in the area, continue your walk with direction Sempione, reaching the park.
Sempione Park is a huge Romanesque style English park, the most important of the city, and It contains important historical buildings and institutions. The park, built by Visconti and enlarged by the Sforza, was a forest composed mainly of oak and inhabited by exotic animals. Including streams, lakes, hills and trees, and it’s one of the favorite local’s places for the weekend, even for the many bars and clubs that allow to spend an afternoon in the green.
The Sforza Castle, in the middle of the park, is one of the most beautiful castles in Italy, home of the power of the Visconti and Sforza, and includes many museums, as the Art Gallery, the Egyptian Museum, the Museum of Ancient Art, the Museum of Musical Instruments, and others. In addition to a tour of the museums, you can also go to discovering the secret paths hosted by the battlements, which offer an unusual point of view of the Castle and the Park. Within Sempione Park 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, exhibitions and touring exhibition. Not everyone knows that in Sempione there is also the Civic Aquarium: it is the third oldest aquarium in Europe, built in 1906 for the Universal Exhibition, and housed in a beautiful Art Nouveau building.

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

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

Your day can end with a dinner in the Arch of Peace area, a monumental sculpture dedicated to peace between European nations reached in 1815 with the Congress of Vienna, also known for its vibrant night life and many good pubs and restaurants.

 

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