Milan is a business city as opposed to a tourist city, with not much more than a few good shopping malls and a big, impressive cathedral. There is an old castle/fort with a beautiful garden for relaxing, but mostly it’s a city for business. There are, however, 2 airports and you can usually find a pretty cheap flight into this hub.
Historic City Center
The Duomo di Milano is Milan’s most famous structure. The Gothic cathedral took almost six centuries to complete. It’s the largest church in Italy and the 5th largest church in the world. Also in this plaza, you can find the Statue of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of Italy in 1861.
Down Via Dante, you will find Castello Sforzesco and the Piazza Castello. The news station films right in front of the castle with glass windows so you can catch a peek of the anchors during filming. A beautiful fountain guards the gate to the castle, and once inside the castle walls there is a wide open reception area followed by the castle itself (small compared to normal castle standards). Keep walking through the castle to come to the gardens in the back, a nice hangout spot for the Milanese to let the stress of the day wash away.
Of course, Milan is one of the fashion capitals of the world, along with Paris, New York, and London. Many famous designers have come from Milan or to Milan, and many brands now sport the “Made In Milan” label. In 2009, Milan was declared the “fashion capital of the world,” however it has since fallen out of the top 10. Still, there is plenty of shopping to be done in Milan, and both high-end stores and discount stores can be found on every corner. The Galleria Vittorio Emmanuel II is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls dating back to 1865. It is built within a four-story double succession of arches, a feature of Romanesque architecture that was taken into Gothic architecture.
Located inside the Piazza Brera, the Pinacoteca di Brera is a public art gallery for paintings in Milan. The Brera Academy shares the space inside the Piazza. The Teatro alla Scala is one of the leading opera and ballet theaters in the world, dating back to 1778. Many of Italy’s greatest opera singers have performed here. Today, it is home to La Scala Theater Chorus, La Scala Theater Ballet, and La Scala Theater Orchestra.
Two restaurants are worth mentioning in Milan: Ristorante Pizzeria Sabatini and Pizzeria Piccola Ischia. Though both are pizzerias, they are incredible (and I’m not even a pasta person).
First, Sabatini makes all its pasta fresh, with thick noodles. It has a unique, original taste that no other restaurant in Italy could match. Pizza isn’t served until 7pm, but the pasta is worth a lunch trip. The desserts are absolutely wonderful too!
Second, Piccola Ischia has four locations. We happened to be wandering an off-street looking for a local place for dinner in the modern section of the city when we came across a small hole-in-the-wall that had a line out the door. We walked in and it was full of local Italians and very few people spoke English; this was definitely a local spot. We sat down and ordered our first pizza in Italy. They had a wood-fired oven for amazing pizza, and it’s customary for each person to order their own pizza. We also ordered the bruschetta for an appetizer and the tomatoes were the freshest I’ve seen in a long time. The place was great and well priced, and if the locals eat there, you know it’s good!
My Overall Impression Of Milan
Overall, Milan is a business city geared toward career life. There isn’t much to see in the way of touristy historical things, so it’s not a very touristy city. The cathedral was beautiful and the castle gardens were nice, but on a trip to Italy, Milan can be skipped.