About Milan

quick links: Milano / the Duomo / Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II /
La Scala / Castello Sforzesco / L'Ultima Cena / I Navigli / Shopping


A modern city with an ancient history.
Discover the history of a city that has always been considered the economic and moral Capital of Italy, the leader in practically all business sectors, in the world of professionals and technological innovation. The current day Milan has it roots planted in a past that has bestowed on us a patrimony of art and culture; which isn't rare for towns in Italy, but not all of them have so much to offer.
The world famous "L'ultima cena" by Da Vinci, the Opera House - La Scala, the numerous museums and art galleries: many of Milan's treasures are hidden to the less attentive eyes of its inhabitants, but it's all there, waiting to be discovered.
Milan is situated in the North of Italy, in the middle of the vast area of the Padana plains, in a truly strategic position for the paths that lead to the heart of Europe. Nowadays, Milan can be considered on the edge between the Northern and Southern part of the world. It is a gateway to the companies that are seeking to enter the national and European business market. It is also a portal for a large number of immigrants that arrive from emerging countries searching for job opportunities and hoping for a better future. And for numerous others, for example, those whom intend to continue their studies in the many avant-garde scientific and educational structures that the city has to offer.
Milan is truly one of the few "complete" Italian cities, able to reconcile economic and social realities. It is active in many fields of culture and research. It is a busy and advanced Metropolis that attracts millions of people every year, offering a multitude of opportunities in the fields of education, employment, entertainment and tourism.


The Duomo

The Duomo, which traditionally symbolizes the city of Milan, is the most extraordinary example of Italian late Gothic art. It ranks third in terms of dimension after the Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in Rome and Seville's Cathedral. Located in the very heart of the city it represents both the core of the city and the unavoidable destination of countless visitors from Italy and abroad. The construction of the Duomo began in 1386 promoted by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, lord of Milan, and continued for centuries. The Duomo is entirely covered from its base with pinkish-white marble. In the facade five large portals are inserted carrying high-reliefs illustrating sacred and historical scenes such as "The life of Sant'Ambrogio". Wide slabs of marble make up the roof of the Duomo which can be reached by a steep external staircase, consisting of 919 steps, carved between the left side and the transept. The effort of "climbing" the Duomo is highly rewarded by the magnificent view of the surrounding plain up to the Alps; should the weather be ungenerous it will still be possible to enjoy the vision of the "Madonnina" , the golden statue of the Virgin Mary, the 135 lace-like spires and the many statues which decorate the roof. On entering the majestic interior of the cross-shaped cathedral, the sight is captured by the polychrome stained glass windows depicting scenes from the life of the saints. The eight naves of the Cathedral are divided by 52 gigantic pillars topped by a series of niches with statues.

Public transport:
Underground: line 1 - Stop: Duomo
line 3 - Stop: Duomo
Opening hours:
The Cathedral is open
everyday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Holy masses:
Working days: morning - 7:99, 7:30, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 11:00 a.m. afternoon - 12.45, 5:30, 6:15 p.m.
Holidays: morning - 7:00, 8:00, 9:30; 10:00, 11:00 a.m. afternoon - 12:30, 5:30 p.m.
Ascent to the Madonnina Statue from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00/6:30 p.m. depending on year period
Admission fee: By lift: € 6,00 By stairs: € 4,00.
Tickets can be bought at the bookshop.
Bookshop: From9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The renowned Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the first buildings in Europe built in glass and iron, was inaugurated in 1867 by King Vittorio Emanuele II himself.

It is called il salotto di Milano (Milan's sitting room) because it is the traditional meeting place of the Milanese; indeed it offers a wide range of cafés, restaurants such the historical restaurant Savini as well as fashion boutiques and the most important bookshops in the city. It is on the plan of a Latin cross with an octagonal centre, the famous Ottagono regarded by every single Milanese as the heart of the city and is dominated by a central dome expanding into four branches one of which overlooking Piazza Duomo. The main branch connects Piazza Duomo with Piazza Scala and is the preferred promenade for La Scala amateurs who love strolling around with their fashionable evening dresses before enjoying a performance at La Scala Theatre.


La Scala

Its history, acoustic and the outstanding level of its performances have made La Scala Theatre one of the best known temples of lyric and classical music in the world. The theatre was founded under the auspices of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria to replace the Royal Ducal Theatre, destroyed by fire in 1776. On 7 December 2004 the season was opened at La Scala after a three-year break due to complex restoration and renovation works. During the restoration the artistic activity took place in the Arcimboldi Theatre. The most evident aspects of the works undergone are the modernization of the service mechanical plants and the new stage tower now sitting at the back of the building. The 7 December première is one of the most awaited cultural and social events in the year and gathers the most prominent personalities from the fields of culture, politics, industry worldwide as well as the most popular TV and cinema stars. La Scala Theatre is home to the best opera singers and conductors and offers a broad repertoire which attracts thousand of visitors and opera buffs.
How to get there: By underground: red line - stop Duomo / yellow line - stops: Duomo, Montenapoleone By bus: no. 61 By tram: no 1 and 2


Castello Sforzesco

Built for purely defensive reasons by Galeazzo II Visconti around 1368, the Castello lost its initial destination as a fortress to assume that of a kingly dwelling but only to resume its original role of efficient fortress in 1450 under Francesco Sforza, the new Lord of Milan. His successor, Ludovico il Moro, turned the Castello into one of the most sumptuous courts of Renaissance Italy and a point of attraction of the most talented artists of the time. With the sixteenth century began the slow and fatal decline of this massive building. In the eighteenth century the Castello was taken over by the Austrians who, with the exception of the French rule by Napoleon between 1796- 1814, kept it until the liberation of Lombardy by Vittorio Emanuele II. Its reconstruction was carried out by the famous architect Luca Beltrami who, starting in 1893, brought the Castello back to its former model. Among the many interesting centres of attractions of the castle, it is worthwhile mentioning the impressive Tower of Filarete, the huge Piazza d'Armi Courtyard, the Rocchetta Courtyard and the small Courtyard of the Fountain.


L'ultima cena

This famous painting, commenced by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1495 and completed in 1497, is considered one of the most significant art creations worldwide. The painting shows Jesus announcing to his twelve Apostles that one of them was going to betray him. Da Vinci painted his masterpiece using strong tempera on a dry wall instead of a wet one; this is the reason why it begun to fade soon after its completion. In time, the fresco has undergone a number of restoration interventions, of which the most recent was begun in 1978 and finished in 1999. The work has made original pictorial excerpts re-emerge and has shown more of Da Vinci's sense of color and drawing techniques. After the restoration, a sophisticated air filtering system was installed to impede the entry of dust, damp, vapor and polluting substances.


The Navigli

The area characterized by the Navigli is certainly one of the most picturesque in the city. Its core is constituted by Porta Ticinese, one of the ancient city gates and the Darsena, the famous dockyard of the past which is no longer in use. Here, every Saturday morning the Fiera di Senigallia takes place, the bustling flea market where second-hand goods and antiques may be found at very colourful stalls. At the great basin of Darsena Dockyard meet the Naviglio Grande and the Naviglio Interno: the former carries the waters of Lake Maggiore and the latter the waters of Como Lake. A third one, the Naviglio Pavese flows towards River Ticino and joins after a while River Po. Nowadays along the Canals, boutiques, ateliers, craftsmen's workshops and antique shops which build up one of the most exclusive shopping areas in the city, display their beautiful creations and products. Along the canal banks many opportunities of nightlife entertainment are offered by the district's countless bars, pubs, wineries, osterie, traditional restaurants and discos.



In Milan, nearly all shops are shut on Sundays. Non-food shops are closed on Monday mornings as well: food shops are open on Monday mornings but closed on Mon afternoon. For Sunday shopping, there are the multimedia stores in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Piazza Duomo, Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Torino, a few fashion stores on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, and, near Garibaldi station, Corso Como.
The range of retail outlets in Milan runs from the high fashion boutiques, to small shops, department stores, supermarkets, discount outlets, and street markets. Some parts of the city have a specific character as regards shopping.

Via Montenapoleone and the adjoining streets (within the area bordered by Via della Spiga, Corso Venezia, Via Bigli and Via Manzoni) are the high fashion area.

There are furniture and lighting shops in Corso Matteotti, Corso Monforte and Via Durini.

Piazza San Babila, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Piazza Duomo (including Galleria Vittorio Emanuele) and Via Dante form a continuous pedestrian precinct with many shops, mainly clothes, but also books and media.

Other important, less central shopping streets include Corso Buenos Aires (near the station), Corso XXII Marzo, and Corso Vercelli. Via Torino is strong on fashion for young people.

The Brera district, around the like-named academy and gallery, was once the reign of artists: there are still a number of private galleries in Via Brera, Via del Carmine and Via Solferino, but these streets are now great for shopping.

Via Fiori Chiari, Via Madonnina and Piazza del Carmine form another attractive pedestrian precinct with small, interesting shops, and in the evening the area is kept lively by virtue of the many bars and cafés.

Corso di Porta Ticinese, particularly in the stretch between the churches of San Lorenzo and Sant'Eustorgio, has many trendy, ethnic-type shops for clothes, furniture etc., and it has also become a focal point for young nightlife.

It is close to another characteristic shopping and nightlife area, the Navigli canal district (Ripa di Porta Ticinese, Via Ascanio Sforza). On the Naviglio Grande canal, on the last Sunday of each month, there is a large antiques market with stalls selling everything from postcards to furniture.

Via Paolo Sarpi is the home to Milan's Chinatown (actually just a few streets), and so here there are many shops selling their specialities, in particular leatherware.