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Milan in a day

There are many wonderful things to see in Milan. Here’s a quick look at the most relevant.

Duomo

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Since 1386, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Nascente, founded by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, has represented the heart of Milanese spirituality, with over 4 million visitors a year.

From an architectural point of view, the Cathedral represents a precious testimony of Lombard Gothic even if the construction of the cathedral lasted for over 5 centuries, so much so that it is usual to distinguish 6 successive phases of construction: Viscontea (1387-1447 ); Sforzesca (1450-1520); Borromaica (1560-1650); 17th-18th centuries (1650-1800); Nineteenth century (1800-1900); Twentieth century (1900-today). This very long time span also explains the high number of statues: over 3000 both inside and outside.

The 135 spiers that decorate the exterior of the Cathedral, together with the Relic of the Holy Nail (according to the legend it would be one of the nails of the cross of Jesus), constitute two of the major elements of charm of the Milan Cathedral.

Also not to be missed is the ascent to the roof terraces and the visit of the underground with the archaeological remains of the original Basilica of Santa Tecla.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

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There are those who have rightly called the Galleria a station without rails, tracks and trains. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a real shopping center with boutiques of the major high fashion brands alongside historic cafes and fast food chains. Together with the so-called “Quadrilatero d’Oro”, the gallery, was designed in 1865 by architect Giuseppe Mengoni.
  

Quadrilatero della moda

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In Milan it is impossible not to shop. The so-called “Quadrilatero della moda” (via Montenapoleone, via della Spiga, via Manzoni, via Sant’Andrea) is the temple of Milanese shopping. Ferragamo, Prada, Valentino, Gucci, Krizia, Dolce & Gabbana, Trussardi, Chanel, Moschino, Versace and other big brands are practically all present in such a concentration that is not matched anywhere else in the world, even in New York.

Castello Sforzesco

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The Sforzesco Castle, is located not far from the Duomo. And, just like the city cathedral, the construction of this fortress is due to Gian Galeazzo Sforza who, continuing the initial work of his predecessor Galeazzo II Visconti, built the lodgings for the troops, simultaneously rearranging the park and the whole moat.

 
After the Visconti it was the Sforza’s turn: first Francesco Sforza and then Ludovico Maria Sforza, known as il Moro. The latter gave great prestige to the Milanese fortress by calling, among others, artists of the caliber of Leonardo da Vinci and Donato Bramante to court.
 
From the 16th to the 18th century the castle went through a very turbulent phase, passing into French, Spanish and Austrian hands.
 

There are two reasons why the Castello Sforzesco is one of the main tourist attractions in Milan. The first is because, right behind it, there is the beautiful Parco Sempione, an oasis of peace in the city center. The second reason is the presence, inside the building, of several museums. First of all, the Museum of Ancient Art, with the section dedicated to Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini, but the Museum of Musical Instruments, the Prehistoric Museum and the Egyptian Museum are also worth a visit.

Pinacoteca di Brera

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The first thing that catches the eye of the Brera palace is the (bronze copy of the) statue of Napoleon Bonaparte in the courtyard preceding the entrance. And Napoleon is also involved with the highlight of the Brera palace, namely the famous Pinacoteca with hundreds of paintings from the Middle Ages to modernity.
 

Just to mention a few: the Pietà by Giovanni Bellini, the Dead Christ by Andrea Mantegna, the Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael and the Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio. In short, the Pinacoteca di Brera is another obligatory stop on a visit to Milan, especially since the collection, as mentioned, does not end only in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries but also hosts significant contributions of Flemish art, without forgetting some of the the best interpreters of Italian painting at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Cenacolo Vinciano

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In terms of notoriety, Leonardo’s Last Supper is second only to the Mona Lisa. Ludovico Il Moro commissioned the painting, 4 meters high and 9 meters long, who strongly pushed for the representation of the announcement of the betrayal that Jesus addressed to the apostles before being arrested. A scene to which Leonardo managed to transfer all the drama of the biblical story, painting on the faces of the apostles the disbelief for listening and the contemporary fear of being pointed out by the prophet.
 
From 1977 to 1999 Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper was the subject of one of the longest and most complicated restoration campaigns ever experienced.
 

To see the Last Supper, a reservation is required. be done either by phone (calling 02 92 800 360) or online from the following site: www.vivaticket.it. Not to be missed!

Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio

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Second in importance only to the Duomo, the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio is undoubtedly another obligatory stop on a visit to Milan. The basilica of the patron saint is worthwhile from an architectural point of view. Art historians, in fact, agree in considering it the most shining testimony of the Lombard-Romanesque, a source of inspiration for the construction of many other churches around the region. Not to he missed, the Sacello di San Vittore in ciel d’Oro, a small chapel near the altar and the Golden Altar created by the master Vuolvinio. The older of the two bell towers, built by Benedictine monks, dates back to the same period. The other, the higher one, was built three centuries later by the canons as a result of a long conflict between the parties about the use of the church altar.

I Navigli

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The Navigli, about half an hour’s walk from the Duomo, are one of the most interesting areas of Milan. They are both for the historical importance covered in the past and for the tourist present that began in the 1980s and definitively exploded after Expo 2015.
 
Walking along the Naviglio Grande and the Naviglio Pavese, it may seem to be in Amsterdam. Indeed, the Navigli were born precisely to make up for the absence of a main waterway by drawing on the small Seveso, Lambro and Nirone to provide the city with a river port that would favor trade.
 
To fully understand the historical value of this great work of hydraulic engineering, to whose realization Leonardo da Vinci also contributed, just think that the marble blocks used for the construction of the Cathedral were transported entirely along the canals.
 
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the prevalence of road and rail transport led to a slow but inexorable decline of the district. At the end of the 1900s, however, the decline of industry, to the benefit of the service sector and finance, accompanied a further transformation of the area, frequented by artists and the new city bourgeoisie.
 
With the new millennium, the definitive tourist consecration with the opening of bars and restaurants that have made the Navigli one of the key areas of Milanese nightlife.
 
Click on the image below to book a fabulous guided tour of Milan with a 5% discount!
 

 
 
 
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