Famous for its football, fashion, furniture, food and unparalleled frescoes, Italy’s most dynamic city combines history and culture with high-octane living and style. Essential things to do in Milan include visits to Leonardo’s Last Supper, the Duomo rooftop and La Scala Opera House. If the timing is right, catching a match at the world-famous San Siro football stadium (home to Internazionale FC and AC Milan) might be an option; and there will certainly be time for hunting down the best discount fashion outlets in town.
In the run-up to the food-themed Universal Exposition (to be held from May 1–Oct 31, 2015), Milan is buzzing with new museums, skyscrapers, restaurants, bars and shops. Long-standing monuments – from the 500-year-old Duomo to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade – are getting a spruce up, top chefs are opening gourmet restaurants (as well as more affordable alternatives) and there’s a veritable frenzy of big-brand flagship store openings in the aforementioned Galleria and the glitzy designer shopping district known as the Golden Rectangle.
Happy hour (a chance to down cocktails while grazing on generous buffet snacks) has long been a tradition in Milan and there are numerous notable new bar openings in the Porta Venezia, Brera and Navigli zones.
Essential Milan attractions
There are a host of new architectural and artistic attractions, in addition to old favourites that have been around for centuries, worthy of your attention in Milan. On the cultural front, the shiny new Museo del Novecento in piazza del Duomo houses 20th-century artworks by everyone from Morandi to Modigliani. Close to the La Scala opera house, the (free) Gallerie d’Italia opened in 2011-2012 in three frescoed and stuccoed palazzi, with bas-reliefs by Canova, contemporary art exhibits and a chic, if somewhat pricey, café.
In the Navigli (canal) area, David Chipperfield’s Museo delle Culture (Museum of Cultures) is expected to open in March 2015, with ethnographic displays in a revamped former factory complete with glass-topped courtyard. Not to be outdone, Rem Koolhaas’ Fondazione Prada contemporary art centre opens on 9 May 2015 in an ex-distillery, providing a home for the Milan-based fashion house’s collection of contemporary artworks, as well as a bar designed by Wes Anderson.
Long Milan’s most immediately recognizable symbol, the Duomo now has a rival: the Torre Garibaldi, aka the Unicredit building, designed by Argentine starchitect Cesar Pelli and erected in 2011 in the Porta Nuova zone, it’s the city’s tallest skyscraper. In a deliberate echo of the 500-year-old Gothic cathedral, the 231-metre high bank-owned building is topped with an illuminated spire. Locals wander up to the adjacent piazza Gae Aulenti to enjoy nighttime viewing from below and to play games of outdoor table football in the surrounding square.
Sights and attractions details
Duomo Piazza del Duomo. +39 02 7202 2656.
Teatro alla Scala Piazza della Scala/Largo Ghiringhelli 1. +39 02 8879 2473.
Stadio San Siro Piazzale dello Sport 1.+39 02 404 243.
Expo 2015 Expo Gate (information point), Via Beltrami. No tel.
Museo del Novecento Palazzo dell’Arengario, Piazza del Duomo. +39 02 8844 4061.
Gallerie d’Italia Piazza della Scala 6. +39 80 0167 619. Admission free.
Museo delle Culture Via Tortona 56. +39 02 8846 372.
Fondazione Prada Largo Isarco 2. +39 02 5467 0515.
Unicredit Piazza Gae Aulenti. No tel.