Milan

If you are in Milan for the first time, an absolute must-see is the Milan Cathedral, also known as the Duomo, the intricate facade which is ornamented by 2,000 sculptures, 135 pinnacles and 96 gargoyles. Tourists eagerly visit its roof in order to get a great view of the city’s panorama.

If you are in Milan for the first time, an absolute must-see is the Milan Cathedral, also known as the Duomo, the intricate facade of which is ornamented by 2,000 sculptures, 135 pinnacles and 96 gargoyles. Tourists eagerly visit its roof in order to get a great view of the city’s panorama. Next to it is one of the world's first shopping malls. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a historic commercial arcade with a glass roof and dome, which delights visitors with its floor mosaic and walls covered in bas-relief sculptures. The symbol of Milan is also Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco), built entirely of red bricks, as well as its picture gallery which contains paintings by

Canaletto, Tiepolo and Michelangelo. Straight from the castle one emerges into elegant Sempione Park (Parco Sempione), the site of long-ago parties for the Sforza royal family and their guests. Historical documents indicate that Leonardo da Vinci attended these. There are more traces of Leonardo da Vinci in Milan. The most well-known is 'L'Ultima Cena' (The Last Supper). This fresco is in the convent of the Santa Maria delle Grazie Church. In order to visit this, a ticket must be reserved in advance.

Those who have already been to Milan or who wish to see something that has not been immortalized on a postcard should go to Brera. This neighbourhood located close to the city centre is full of cosy cafes, galleries and contemporary art exhibitions. If you have half a day (or night) of free time, you can get on a metro and go to the district of Navigli, where there are numerous intersecting canals. In recent years this has been the most popular meeting place for young people. There are shops here with niche design and vinyl records, specialist bookshops and small bars with live music.

Milan can also be visited for its fashion, both high and low. The Fashion District is marked out by three squares: Piazza del Duomo, Piazza Cavour and Piazza San Babila. Entrance to Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino and Versace boutiques is carefully monitored - not everyone is allowed to enter. But for fashion-lovers, the window displays themselves are a real feast for the senses. For less affluent customers, there are unique flea markets with vintage clothes and markets with Chinese fabrics.

If you return to Milan, sample something typical of Lombardy. The city is famous for its Milanese risotto (rice cooked in bouillon with grated grana padano cheese and saffron), osso bucco (veal shanks in sauce), vitello tonnato (slices of veal covered in a tuna-caper sauce), cotoletto (similar to a pork chop) and ravioli di zucca (dumplings with pumpkin and sage). Where to eat? The best is to eat far from the centre. Look out for small restaurants where many Italians are sitting at the tables. It’s important to remember that for table service you must always pay what’s called a 'coperto' (usually about 2€), and between 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. most shops and bars are dosed. Italians eat a one-course lunch at about 1:00 p.m. and then return to work. For supper, which is usually quite large here, it's necessary to wait. But anyone who has got a taste of Milan confirms that it's worth it. 

Tags: Italy