Updated: Jan 14
Milan is the fashion capital of the world, making it a very modern and up-to-date stop in the highly historical and cultural country of Italy. Milan is beautiful, high-scale, and sure to make you feel like you're on a movie set.
Milan is the second highest populated city in Italy and it is greatly focused on business and design. Rivaling cities such as New York City and Paris, Milan offers a variety of sophisticated fun. Here is a look inside some of the best things to do in Milan.
1. Milan Cathedral
The largest church in Italy lives up to the hype. The design defines the Gothic era, and it is complete with 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles, and 700 figures. The church is home to the famous statue by Marco d'Agrate, the Saint Bartholomew Flayed, which depicts a man carrying his own skin over his shoulder. The stained glass windows are a very impressive touch to the building as well.
2. Museum of the Milan Cathedral
The Museum of the Cathedral is pretty self-explanatory. Basically, it is a museum full of work that has been taken out of the cathedral or work that refers to the church. It is an opportunity to view the same type of sculptures close up that are present on the cathedral. Different details are uncovered in the museum that help visitors better understand the majesty of the church.
3. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Located right across from the Milan Cathedral is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a large and luxurious shopping mall which houses Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Versace among others. Apart from the fashion inside the shops, the building is fashionable as well, with an iron and glass roof and four mosaics which portray Milan, Rome, Florence, and Turin.
There are many restaurants inside the gallery, ranging from aperitivo stops and dining for the elite. The Ristorante Galleria is a popular destination for gourmet cuisines offering the best of Milan.
4. The Last Supper
It would be a shame to travel to Milan without seeing Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper painting in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church. Unfortunately, it is entirely possible to miss the painting all together without proper planning. Tickets for The Last Supper sell out very quickly, and only 30 people are allowed in the room at a time. The only way to assure a visit to The Last Supper is by booking a date and time online several weeks beforehand. When I say several weeks, I cannot stress this enough. If you know your travel dates early, book the tickets early.
The reason for the difficulties behind visiting The Last Supper is the extensive damage the painting has suffered. Leonardo da Vinci did not paint The Last Supper onto wet plaster, or fresco-style, causing it to flake very early on. Restoration projects have also added layers of destruction, and environmental changes have taken a toll on the painting as well.
5. Santa Maria delle Grazie
After checking out The Last Supper, you should venture into the remainder of the Santa Maria delle Grazie church, which is connected to the right-hand side (facing the church) from the entrance. The church's design is a conduit for showing off Milan's Renaissance mastery. The building was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1980.
Where should I stay?
Your location in Milan depends on what you're trying to see while you're there. Assuming you're staying around the cathedral or the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, here are some examples of lodging in the area.
Economy: London Hotel.
The London Hotel is extremely affordable and is only a 8 minute walk to the Milan Cathedral. It is only a 2 star hotel, but it has relatively good reviews. It is probably the highest quality hotel around that is both affordable and within walking distance to the major attractions.
Mid-Range: Duomo Luxury Loft.
This hotel is located in central Milan and is only a 6 minute walk away from the Museo del Duomo. This modern hotel may be 13 minutes away from the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, but the sights will be well worth it in the fashion-based city.
Luxury: Sweet Inn Ciovasso.
This high-end hotel is an 11 minute walk to the cathedral and is located within central Milan. These rooms are more like apartments and are ideal for families, as they include two or more bedrooms and a kitchen.
Additional Tip: Milan is the most expensive city in Italy, so be prepared to spend more than usual on food, lodging, and entertainment. Also, if you're planning on purchasing anything from one of the high-end stores that the city is known for (Gucci, Prada, etc.) be sure to come VERY prepared. The best sales in Italy happen during the first few weeks of January, if that helps you make a decision of when to visit.
A trip to Milan guarantees a look into the luxurious: Lamborghinis, Versace bags, busy streets, and sleepless nights. Be ready for the time of your life.
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