City Guide: Milan
Milan, the second most populous comune in Italy, was our choice for my birthday in March. The city is not only the capital of the fashion world, but also the second richest city of the European Union.
Not only its soft spot for design, but also its cuisine and historic landmarks attract millions of visitors each year.
In this city guide of Milan I will introduce you to some of the most beautiful and interesting sights. We started off our sightseeing on day one near the historic quarter.
Basilica of San Lorenzo and Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio
As a predominantly Catholic city you can find lots of old churches in Milan. These two Basilicas, located in the Basilicas Park, stemming from Roman times are one of the prime examples for this. The Basilica of San Lorenzo is among the oldest churches in Milan and is estimated to have been built between the fourth and fifth century. It has since then unsurprisingly underwent a series of restoration and rebuilding efforts.
The Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio which is of similar age, used to be a pilgrim stop, because it was believed that the tomb of the Three Kings was situated here. During the 12th century these remains were taken to Cologne and only given back in the beginning of the 20th century.
Porta Ticinese and Darsena
Porta Ticinese used to be the city gate of Milan. The area surrounding the city gate is known to be the historic quarter of Milan. It hosts various landmarks from Roman history and has also developed into a nice shopping and nightlife area.
The small canal near the Porta Ticinese is referred to as Darsena. It represents the remains of the Roman canal system that used to cross through the city of Milan. You will find more pictures of this area in Moritz’ running guide.
On the next day, we moved to the Palazzo Parigi. From there on we decided to visit the city. For this part we also used the izi App that my mom’s colleague suggested to use. It is a free audio guide that offers walk-arounds and information to the sights in various languages.
Brera Palace and Botanical Garden
We started off the tour at the Brera Palace, which has quite a rich history of evolvement. Once a Jesuit college, it nowadays incorporates a variety of cultural institutions.
Its ‘backyard’ is a small botanical garden.
Milan Opera House (Teatro alla Scala) and Leonardo da Vinci
The Milan Opera House is among the most famous in the world. It was designed by the architect Giuseppe Piermarini, after the previous opera Teatro Regio Ducale had burned down in 1776. For its construction the Santa Mara alla Scala Church was taken down and the new opera set up within 23 months.
Across the street of the Opera House you can find the Leonardo da Vinci statue as well as a museum.
Milan Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
This is one of the oldest shopping malls you will be able to find in the world. It was built in the end of the 19th century. The arched passage connects the Piazza della Scala and the Piazza del Duomo.
In the central octagon there are mosaics. According to an old legend, it brings luck if a person spins three times with a heel on the testicles of the bull from Turin. This tradition has however left clear damage on the mosaics.
Duomo of Milan
The Duomo of Milan is one of the most popular touristic attractions. Tons of people can be seen queueing up to visit its inside and plenty more are taking pictures and selfies from outside.
Milan Szforza Castle and Arch of Peace
The Szforza Castle is just a short walk away from the Duomo of Milan. The Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, had this fortification built in the 15th century. In the following centuries it was enlarged and became one of Europe’s largest Citadels. Inside you can find a number of museums.
Behind the castle, you can find a huge park. If you walk through there you find the Arch of Peace at the end.
Our overall impression of Milan
We both really enjoyed our visit to Milan. As we had great weather we could walk around the entire time, enjoying the great Roman architecture as well as catch a glimpse of great design and furniture shops. The only downside were the big amounts of tourists as well as the sometimes rather arrogant locals.