Milan Travel Guide
The mere mention of Milan tends to call to mind images of skyscrapers, fashion shows, glitz, glamor, entertainment, nightlife, and most of all, shopping. One of the fashion and design capitals of the world, it is also the country’s main business district, as well as one of its biggest international hubs thanks to the Malpensa International Airport. With its modern and progressive atmosphere, this cosmopolitan city is the place to be when it comes to anything chic, trendy, and happening.
However, it’s not all about modernism and fashion, as Milan also offers a taste of both the old world and the new, and it is one of the few places in Italy where one can find steel and glass skyscrapers just a short distance away from historic piazzas and churches. It may not have the sheer abundance of Renaissance art and architecture as other cities such as Florence, but it still does has its own collections of artwork to boast of.
To name just a few classical points of interest, there’s the Duomo of St. Ambrose with its marble façade, stained glass windows, and a history that goes as far back as the 13th century. Then there’s the world-renowned opera house, the La Scala Theater where a lot of Italy’s greatest musical and theatrical artists have performed, and where many younger performers dream of staging their own shows someday. The area that the Scala is in also serves as home to a museum and a theater academy.
Meanwhile, there’s the Castello Sforzesco which is a 15th century building and now serves as home to several museums and Renaissance period art collections, as well as the Pinacoteca di Brera, an art museum that contains important Italian works of art and shares its grounds with Palazzo Brera. Leonardo’s Last Supper can also be viewed at the Santa Maria delle Grazie church, and there’s also Branca Tower, which offers bird’s eye views of the city and the Alps beyond.
And then there’s the shopping. Both high-end fashionistas and bargain hunters flock to Milan to try to snag the latest and trendiest clothes and accessories from world-renowned fashion designers and brands. For the avid shopper, the places to go to would be the Rinascente Mall where upscale clothing, household and beauty products can be found; the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is one of the world’s oldest malls also houses luxury retailers as well as restaurants, bars, and cafes; and best of all, there’s Via Montenapoleone which is Italy’s equivalent of Fifth Avenue in the United States. It is the most important street in Milan’s fashion district and is lined with high-end boutiques and stores, as well as shops from which exclusive Italian shoemakers conduct business.
For those who wish to stay within a budget, you can head over to Papiniano Market or the Via Fauché Market, both of which are twice-a-week events. Here, you can find designer items at low, low prices, but keep in mind that there will also be cutthroat competition from all the other bargain hunters who are there for the day. Also, all the items will just be those that are on hand, and it may take some luck to find an item that comes in the perfect size or color. Antique-lovers and collectors, on the other hand, can visit the shops along the Canale Grande in the Navigli district.
Once evening falls, and after a full day of shopping and touring, don’t be afraid to let your hair down, get social, and relax with an aperitivo at one of the many bars and restaurants in the city!