Milan – world’s fashion capital, but is it only?

Everyone around the world knows Milan for its fashion week in September. But did you know you can find here pieces of art from Michael Angelo or Leonardo Da Vinci? You can admire the contemporary architecture like the Three Towers or Vertical Garden? Not to mention the fact that you can enter one of the largest churches in the world? Milan in fact has a lot to offer.  


Milan airport is the largest one in northern Italy, so you can easily fly. Once you land, choose either bus, train or taxi to get to the center. Bus goes every 20 minutes and is operated by four bus operators: Terravision, Malpensa Bus Express (Autostradale), Malpensa Shuttle (Air Pullman) and Caronte. The same goes for train, it leaves every 30 minutes and is operated by Malpensa Express Trenord. We arrived to Milan from Bergamo by train. It’s 50 minutes ride.  


Milan has 5 metro lines, which connects important sights: M1: red line, M2: green line, M3: yellow line, M4: blue line and M5: purple line. Of course in the historic city I rather suggest to walk and use metro for the more remote spots like the futuristic CityLife district or charming and vibrant area of the city: Naviglio Grande.  


In Italy you can pay with Euro. Don’t worry about the cash as basically everywhere you may pay with card. Italy is not that expensive, it’s comparable to other European cities. For a pizza you’ll pay around 15 EUR, coffee cost around 3 EUR, ice-cream scoop 2,50 EUR or a standard drink around 6 Eur. And let’s not forget about my favourite one: Pistachio croissant is for 2 EUR.  



The greatest sight in the city is Duomo di Milano. This gothic cathedral rising in the center of Piazza del Duomo is the symbol of Milan. Construction of the building began in the 14th century and took as long as 582 years. It’s made of pink hued marble. It took 78 architects, thousands of artist, sculptures and worker constructions to finish it. Because the built took so long, the cathedral is a blend of variety of different styles: neoclassic, baroque and gothic. The building is magnificent, it’s decorated from the very bottom to the very top, and it’s really detailed. The interiors are dominated by the massive columns. Your attention will also attract the colorful and huge stained glass, it’s a piece of art on its own.  

Let’s talk about numbers: It has 3400 statues, 135 gargoyles, 135 spires, each one is topped with a statue of a biblical figure.  

And vital point of exploring the cathedral is the rooftop. You simply cannot miss it. You can either climb the stairs or use the elevator depending which ticket you bought. Climbing the 250 stairs was an obvious choice for me, as I saved 5 Euros for a coffee. After a hefty climb, you’ll get rewarded with the most incredible view ever.  


Dress code: You need to follow the strict rules that are written on the Cathedral signs. But basically it’s that your arms and knees should be covered. Take with you something to cover you up, otherwise you will have to pay for the “painter” suit or buy yourself a scarf.

Items: Obviously you cannot bring knives or any other sharp objects. Your bag will be checked before entering the Cathedral. Keep in mind that glass bottles are also not allowed, so if you use one, don’t take it with you this time.  

Ticket: Buy it online, and I mean it. You don’t want to waste your time and stand in the long queue when you can do it comfortably from your home. The ticket you buy is for a specific time slot. Meaning you should enter the cathedral at that time. It’s not obeyed that strictly, so no worries if you arrive 15 minutes sooner or later.  Buy your ticket from the original source, ideally the official cathedral webpage. There’re several different options to choose from. I do recommend a combo ticket for the Cathedral, Museum and a Rooftop. I paid 17,50 EUR.

Time: If you have the chance to enter the cathedral in the morning, do it. It’s slightly more loose. In the afternoon on the other hand the queue is getting longer. Take your time to explore it as it’s so worth it.  


The shopping mall situated right next to the cathedral is world-known. Although not everyone can afford buying signature louis Vuitton bag, everyone can at least go through the gallery and admire the building itself, which was opened in 1867. And imagine it’s the oldest shopping center still in operation. Just look up and get overwhelmed with this neo-classical arcade, with its numerous glass windows, domes and the most beautiful frescoes. Grab yourself a cheap burger with breathtaking view on the cathedral. Or if you can afford, enter one of the restaurant’s and enjoy your meal. In the gallery, you’ll also find the World of Leonardo da Vinci museum. If you’re into his genius mind, why don’t you visit? 


Within a walking distance you may also see Milanese castle. It was occupied by the Sforza family. who acquired the Duchy of Milan in the mid-15th century.  

This medieval fortification was built in the 15th century by Fransesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, on the remnants of a 14th-century fortification. Red brick where used, which make it an unique object around this landscape. Later renovated and enlarged, in the 16th and 17th centuries it was one of the largest citadels in Europe. Today, you may find here several museums among them Museum of Antique Art, Applied Art Or Musical Instruments. But it’s the famous Michaelangelo’s unfinished sculpture and Leonardo da Vinci’s art that people want to visit it.  Entrance to the castle courtyard is free of charge. 


Don’t run away so fast, instead take a walk through the main city park called: Simplon and you’ll find another piece of art worth seeing on the other side. It’s the Arch of Peace, also called the gate to Milan. It was built in XIX century, in the heart of a wide round square known as Piazza Sempione (“Simplon Square”). It’s massive with it 25 meters high and 24 meters wide, decorated with statues and number of bas-reliefs as well as the Corinthian columns. It’s around 10 minutes on foot from the castle and you may go check out the panoramic views encompassing both the Arch and the Sforza Castle.


The reason I’m mentioning this church, it’s because it houses the most iconic work of Leonardo da Vinci: Last Supper. Not everyone knows that Last Supper is not a painting, it’s fresco, which was painted on the wall in the dining room of the monastery between 1494 and 1498. Leonardo da Vinci used a dry painting technique that was, obviously innovative for the time. Dan Brown tries to solve the symbolism and mysteries about Leonardo’s work in his novel, but is he successful? 

In order to see this impressive fresco, you need to buy a ticket in advance and make a reservation. Only ten people are allowed at a time with a limited time of 15 minutes. This is all in order to keep this work surviving for years to come, so our grandchildren can see it for themselves as well.  


The Brera Art Gallery (Pinacoteca di Brera), one of Italy’s most important museums, is a highlight of Milan’s fashionable Brera neighborhood. This impressive collection of medieval and Renaissance paintings includes masterpieces by Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Tintoretto, Piero della Francesca, and Andrea Mantegna. 


Milan, similarly to Vienna is also home to some architectonic futuristic gems. The whole CityLife district, designed by architects Arata Isozaki, Daniel Libeskind and Zaha Hadid is nothing like the rest of Milan. The area is green, modern and innovative. It’s the tree towers and the Vertical Forest that are visible for tourists when arriving to main train station. In order to give it a closer look, use the purple metro line and step off at the Isola stop.  


Use the metro red or green line and take off at: P.TA Genova FS and walk alongside the canal. Get to know another part of the Milan, charming and vibrant. Along the canal, there is mixture of quaint, small restaurants souvenir shops or street sellers selling some DIY.  


Even though I’m not a huge fan of Starbucks, this spot came recommended and I don’t regret experiencing it. There’re 6 Starbucks reserve roasteries around the world and only one in Europe. So when visiting Milan, it’s kind of a must see. It was opened in 2018 inside the historic Postal building in Piazza Cordusio, 5 minute walk from the Cathedral Duomo. Except a huge choice of coffee, drinks and cocktails, visitors may also see, hear and learn about coffee’s journey.


Even though fashion pays a huge role in Milanese culture, it’s the architecture and uniqueness of this city that brings visitors here. It’s obviously nice to sit down in one of the cafes and watch people pass by to get inspired by their look, but seeing 500 years old Cathedral gives you a different taste of Milan. It’s definitely not overrated to and I do recommend visiting.

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