Milan

The city of biggest churches, oldest shopping malls and the most famous operas in the whole world: Milan. Get to know our guide to make the best out of your day in Milan! Head to the astonishing Duomo di Milano (open daily from 7am to 8 pm). It is the most admirable and Gothic cathedral in Italy. It took nearly six centuries to complete it in 1965. It is also worth mentioning that it is the third largest church in the world (right after St. Peters Basilica in the Vatican City and Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil). Still active and serving as the seat of the Archbishop of Milan, it is located on Piazza del Duomo. Which was obviously named after the church. Both mark the very city centre of Milan in a geographic and artistic, cultural and social point of view. Shop and Dine Like Royals Right on the left or right (depends from which side you are looking) is located the worlds oldest shopping mall: The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It was named after a very important guy for Italy with an extremely funny beard. The first king of the Kingdom of Italy: Victor Emmanuel II. Locals frequently call it il salott di Milano (Milans drawing room). It derives from the fact it is a home to many luxury retailers selling jewellery, haute couture, paintings and books. Moreover, it serves as an important Milanese meeting and dining place: one of them, exactly Biffi Caffč was founded in 1867 by pastry chef to the monarch. I do not think you will not do it while you are there, but remember to look up. The gallery is covered by an astounding iron-glass roof. If you have money to burn, you may be interested in the fact that a five-star hotel is located there. Do Not Forget to Spin! Last but not least, remember to get your good luck from the Galleria. In the middle of its floor, you can find a Turin bull mosaic. It is said that if you place your right heel on the testicles of the bull (do not be shy, so many people have already done that that now there is a hole instead of them) and you quickly spin 3 times and not tripping, you will have good luck and your wish will come true. After spinning, make sure to grab the best slice of Spontini pizza in Milano: in Pizzeria Spontini. The crust of this one differs from typical Italian one. It is much thicker and fulfills you much faster! Don't forget about the dessert! And what is better than truly local gelato? Move to Gelateria Odeon to taste this delicious ice-cream. Right by McDonalds in front of Duomo. Having had to choose one out of so many flavours is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. But it is definitely worth it. La Scala: Probably the Most Famous Opera House in the Whole World Having walked through the whole gallery one can to the once again something that biggest, greatest or most famous, the most famous opera house in the world: La Scala. Some of the most acclaimed operas were first performed here like Verdi?s Otello. It might seem funny, but all operas must end before midnight. Traditions, oh traditions. Artsy Neighbourhood If you like hip places, of course you do, the Brera District is a place to go. It takes its name from the Brera Academy of Fine Arts and the Brera Art Gallery. You can also find there a botanical garden, an astronomical observatory and a library. It is a great place to grab a dinner as the atmosphere in the evening is just lovely. Go and see the used-to-be-one-of-the-largest citadels in Europe I mean the Sforza Castle. Castello Sforzesco, a home to the noble Visconti family in the 14th century, was demolished by the people who were rebelling against the familys tyranny. After that, in 1450, Francesco Sforza became ruler of Milan and rebuilt the castle. Since then the building served as a defence fortress, military barracks, a residence and has been ruled by Spanish, French and Austrians. Cool fact: it was also a model for the Moscow Kremlin. Today it hosts 12 civic museums featuring everything from ancient art to Egyptian artefacts. It is worth mentioning that inside the castle one can find the Rondanini Pietą, a marble sculpture by Michelangelo that remained unfinished when he died. The castle is surrounded by a wonderful park. Parco Sempione, to be precise. It is right behind the Castello Sforzesco and, crossing it, you will encounter the Arch of Peace, another symbol of the city. You can even find an Aquarium there! Come here to watch the spectacular species of fish and different exhibitions. Do not forget about the rooftop. From there you have a lovely overview of the surrounding park. Church Santa Maria delle Grazie This Dominican convent is included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites list. You can find here The Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci. Bear in mind to book your visit some time in advance, because the waiting list is extremely long! Find out how to do it here. The Financial Centre of Italy Piazza degli Affari is one of the most famous and important squares in Italy. It is because of the main building located in the centre: the stock exchange. You might be surprised to find a very peculiar statue here. It is a piece of art created by the artist Maurizio Cattelan, called the Finger of L.O.V.E: an acronym for Libreta, Odio, Vendetta, Eternita (Freedom, Hate, Revenge, Eternity). With all, except for one, fingers cut off, the monument represents the old Roman salute, used by Nazis. Interesting fact: the Italian word affari means business. Saint Patrons Get the Best Churches I am not sure about how it is in other cities, but St. Ambrose for sure earned his. The saint patron of Milan is buried in the crypt of the beautiful and ancient Basilica di Sant Ambrogio. Pay attention to its marvellous portico outside and the golden altar once you enter. Also keep an eye out for the stunning mosaics in the south aisle, and frescoes in one of the chapels. The legend says that the Devil tried to tempt Ambrose, but lost the battle and pierced his horns into a column just outside the church. This spot is now called Devils Column. Head to Navigli District for Aperitif Milan used to be the city of water and the Navigli (translated into canals) is the most obvious evidence for that. That is why this area is referred as the Venice of Milan. The canals, build in the 12th century, were built to connect Milan to Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, the Po river and the city of Pavia. Thanks to inventions of these Water Ways and ability to transport food, goods and even entire armies, the capital of Lombardy grew and developed more and more. Leonardo da Vinci was responsible for the construction of the canals. He designed a system with the purpose of making Milan accessible from Ticino and Adda regions. Cool fact: Duomo was built with the aid of the ships. The introduction of cars abandoned the usage of the canals. After many years of neglect, these ancients waterways were rediscovered and started to flourish once again. Today the area of Navigli is the bustling and bohemian neighbourhood of Milan, filled with vibrant restaurants, bars, ethnic markets and trendy shops. Come here to explore Milan from a different perspective and immerse yourself in the Italian culture of aperitif. What Is Aperitif? It is a simple idea and a very social and fun way of meeting up with friends, having a cocktail, and enjoying hors doeuvres or a buffet. Many restaurants run special Aperitivo deals, with free or a reduced price of often buffet food when you buy a drink. But traditionally, this is not happy hour or an excuse to drink into oblivion. Aperitivo time serves to kick-start the digestive metabolism and get the juices flowing with a light, dry or bitter tonic with some bite to it. Without this preparation, Italians believe they risk digestion troubles, so be careful not to skip this wonderfully Italian custom. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, as they say. When in Italy, go for Aperitivo! Tips and Tricks 1. A free wifi (yay!) is available for all in the city centre. Look for Open Wifi Milano. 2. If a show to La Scala is not sold out, you can purchase the tickets starting from one hour before the performance for 25% off. 3. Wander around the Brera district. You will not be disappointed 4. Have a dinner in Trattoria: a casual and traditional Italian restaurant. You can find here delicious local dishes which are more affordable than the ones in a normal restaurant. 5. Be aware of coperto: the service fee that can vary between 0.5 EUR up to 4 EUR and more. Drink your espresso at the counter while standing. Not only you will more Italian, but also save your money and have access to the restroom. 6. You may also notice servizio on your bill. It?s a charge for the staff expenses, but it does not go to the staff like a tip would. It ranges from 10%-20% of the total bill. Cool Facts 1. If you love fashion and eating, or eating fashion, head to the top floor of La Rinascente at Piazza Duomo. This gourmet area serves designer accessories made from food. 2. Most of the residents of Milan have migrated here from other Italian cities. 3. The city has plenty of academic options to offer. It is home to 6 universities and many other higher education institutions with a total of 160,000 students. 4. Because of the business service, trade, telecommunications and food industry, Milan is known to be the wealthiest city of Italy (Italian Institute of Statistics). 5. The car brand Alfa Romeo was founded in Milan in 1910. 6. The highest tower made of Lego Blocks was built in Milan in June 2015. It needed 18,000 workers, 5 days of work, over 1 million bricks and reached 30 meters. The Lego company donated 7 EUR for each centimetre. The money was used to protect and develop the green areas of the city. 7. Milan is the second most populated city in Italy and has more canals than Venice. Personalities of Milan 1. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519): inventor and artist, worked in Milan between 1482-1499 2. Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901): musician and opera composer, who lived and worked in Milan 3. Benito Mussolini (1883-1945): politician, journalist and leader of the National Fascist Party, executed and hung for display next to his lover at the Piazzale Loreto in Milan 4. Dario Fo (1926-2016): actor, director, stage and costume designer born in Milan, won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1997 5. Silvio Berlusconi (1936): ex-prime minister born in Milan, owned the Italian football club A.C. Milan