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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Milan

Milan (Milano), capital of Lombardy and Italy's second largest city, lies in the northwest of the Po plain at the junction of several important traffic routes from the Alps.

Milan is Italy's principal industrial center, its most important railroad junction and its leading banking and commercial city. The main industries are textiles, the manufacture of cars, machinery and rolling-stock, chemicals (the Montecatini group) and papermaking.History

Milan is a city of predominantly modern aspect. Even the old town center around the Piazza del Duomo, though it still has many narrow old streets, is traversed by wide arteries radiating in all directions. Between the old town and the outer ring of bastioni, on the line of the Spanish ramparts built in 1549, is a zone of more modern streets, and farther out are the city's steadily expanding suburbs including "Milano 2" and "Milano 3". Since the Second World War large modern buildings, including tower blocks, have been erected in every part of the city.

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Piazza del Duomo

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II View slideshow
The life of Milan centers on the Piazza del Duomo, flanked on the north and south sides by palatial buildings, designed by Mengoni and erected from 1876 onwards. Near the west end is an equestrian statue of Victor Emanuel II (1896). Under the square are the foundations of the Basilica di Santa Tecla (fourth-fifth and seventh century; "winter church") and the fourth century baptistery (Battisterio di San Giovanni alle Fonti), which were discovered during the construction of the Metropolitana (access from the cathedral). Adjoining the Piazza del Duomo to the northwest is the Piazza dei Mercanti, beyond which is the Piazza Cordusio. From the cathedral to the Piazza Cordusio extends an underground passage, with numerous shops.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.
On the north side of the Piazza del Duomo, giving access to the Piazza della Scala, is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, designed by Giuseppe Mengoni and built in 1865-77. It was then the largest shopping arcade in Europe (195m/215yd long, dome 48m/158ft high; restored in 1988-89). It is known to the inhabitants of Milan as "il salotto" (the salon).

Cathedral of Santa Maria Nascente

Cathedral of Santa Maria NascenteCathedral of Santa Maria Nascente View slideshow
The massive Cathedral of Santa Maria Nascente is among the largest in the world, and able to accommodate up to 40,000 people. It was begun in the 14th C and expanded over the centuries.
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Palazzo Reale

Palazzo RealePalazzo Reale
On the south side of the cathedral is the Palazzo Reale, the former Royal Palace, built in 1788 on the site of an earlier palace which had belonged to the Visconti and Sforza families.

Museo del Duomo

On the ground floor of the Palazzo Reale is the Museo del Duomo (Cathedral Museum).
Address: Palazzo Reale, Piazza del Duomo 14, I-20100 Milan, Italy

Museo d'Arte Contemporanea

The rooms on the second floor of the Palazzo Reale house the Civico Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, the City's Art Museum, with works by modern Italian painters.
To the rear of the palace stands the old palace church, San Gottardo in Corte (c. 1330), with a fine tower (campanile). To the east the Archbishop's Palace (remodeled by Pellegrino Tibaldi, 1570 onwards) has a fine colonnaded courtyard.
Address: Palazzo Reale, Piazza del Duomo 14, I-20100 Milan, Italy

Palazzo del Turismo

Adjoining the Palazzo Reale on the west is the Palazzo del Turismo, to the south of which is the Piazza Diaz, surrounded by modern buildings, including a 16-story office block.

Ospedale Maggiore

Southeast of Piazza Diaz, in an area rebuilt since the Second World War (with the Torre Velasca, a 99m/327ft high office block erected in 1958), is the old Ospedale Maggiore, a brick building 285m/312yd long, the town's first hospital, begun in 1456 by Antonio Filarete and continued from 1465 onwards in Gothic and Renaissance style. It now houses the Rector's Office and two faculties of the State university.

Law Courts

500m/550yd east of the Ospedale Maggiore, between the broad Corso di Porta Vittoria and Via San Barnaba, rises the massive Palazzo di Giustizia (Law Courts), completed in 1940.

Castello Sforzesco

Castello SforzescoCastello Sforzesco View slideshow
The Castello Sforzesco, held successively by the Viscontis and the Sforzas, was built in 1368, demolished by the people of Milan in 1447 and rebuilt from 1450 onwards. The Torre de Filarete, on the nearside (70m/231ft high), is a reproduction (1905) of the original gate-tower.

Musei del Castello Sforzesco

The Castello houses the Musei del Castello Sforzesco, with a collection of sculpture which consists mainly of medieval and modern works together with some Early Christian material and graves. Its greatest treasure is the "Pietà Rondanini", Michelangelo's last masterpiece, brought here in 1953 from the Palazzo Rondanini in Rome. Other important items are the unfinished tomb of Gaston de Foix of Bambaia and the large tomb, with an equestrian statue, of Bernabò Visconti (d. 1385) by Bonino da Campione. There is also a collection of decorative art, as well as pictures by old masters (including Bellini, Correggio, Mantegna, Bergognone, Foppa, Lotto, Tintoretto and Antonello da Messina), prehistoric and Egyptian antiquities, a collection on musical history and an armory.

Park

Between the two rear courtyards of the Castello is a passage leading to the park, laid out in 1893-97, once the pleasure garden of the dukes of Milan and later a military training ground. In the northeast of the park is the Arena, an amphitheater constructed in 1807 for sporting and other events. To the southeast is an interesting Aquarium.

Santa Maria delle Grazie

Santa Maria delle GrazieSanta Maria delle Grazie View slideshow
This Gothic church shows fine Early Renaissance features, along with a Baroque chapel.

Teatro alla Scala

Piazza della ScalaPiazza della Scala
In Piazza della Scala is a monument to Leonardo da Vinci (1872). On the northwest side of the square stands the Teatro alla Scala (1775-78).
La Scala is among the most-celebrated opera houses in the world. It was originally built on the site of the 14th century church of Santa Maria della Scala. The theater seats 2,800 and attracts one of the most demanding audiences in Italy. The season begins in early to mid-December and runs through May but tickets are often difficult to come by. Check with your hotel concierge or visit the box office. You may get lucky and find some seats available up in the gallery.
If you are in Milan out of season you can still visit the Museo Teatrale alla Scala in the same building from where you can view the inside of the opera theater. The museum honors the greats who performed and whose works were performed at La Scala including Verdi, Rossini and the great conductor Arturo Toscanini.
Address: Corso Magenta 71, I-20123 Milan, Italy

Poldi-Pezzoli Museum

At Via Manzoni 12, in an elegant old patrician house, the Museo Poldi-Pezzoli contains pictures by Botticelli, Mantegna, Piero della Francesca, Guardí and other artists; there are also Flemish and Persian carpets, tapestries, jewelry, silver, bronzes and weapons.
A very rare embroidery designed by Botticelli is also to be found in the collection at Museo Poldi-Pezzoli. It is one of the very few museums to have it's entire collection published in a series of specialized volumes.
A very large lace collection is also present.
Address: Via Manzoni 12, I-20100 Milan, Italy

Palazzo di Brera

Brera Picture GalleryBrera Picture Gallery Olivier Bruchez
West of Piazza Cavour and northwest of Piazza della Scala, in Via Brera, is the Renaissance Palazzo di Brera (1651-1773), originally a Jesuit college, which has been occupied since 1776 by the Accademia di Belle Arti. In the courtyard can be seen a monument to Napoleon I by Canova (1809). The palace contains a library (800,000 volumes) founded in 1770 and an observatory.

Brera Picture Gallery

The Brera Picture Gallery is one of the best in Italy. Much of the art has been acquired through churches, and there is a strong collection of works by northern Italian artists.

Sights in the South

Sights in the south of Milan include San Lorenzo Maggiore and Sant'Eustorgio.

San Lorenzo Maggiore

Columns of San Lorenzo in Milan.
Southeast of Sant'Ambrogio, in the Corso di Porta Ticines in Milan, San Lorenzo, a fine building on a centralized plan, dates from the Early Christian period; it has a Renaissance dome (1574) and the chapel of St Aquilinus (fourth century mosaics). In front of the church a portico of sixteen Corinthian columns, the largest surviving monument of Roman Mediolanum, has been re-erected.
Address: Corso di Porta Ticinese, I-20100 Milan, Italy

Sant'Eustorgio

500m/550yd south the church of Sant'Eustorgio, a Romanesque basilica (12th-13th centuries) has a fine campanile (1297-1309) and a facade which was added in 1863. Beyond the choir is the Cappella Portinari (by Michelozzo, 1462-68), the earliest example of Renaissance architecture, with frescoes by Vincenzo Foppa. In the chapel is the marble tomb (1339) of St Peter Martyr, a Dominican monk murdered in 1250.

Toy Museum

A toy museum (Museo del Giocattolo e del Bambino) was opened in 1989 at Via Ripa Ticinese (No 27). On display are some 200 games and toys dating from 1700 to 1950.
Address: Via Pitteri 56, I-20100 Milan, Italy

Surroundings

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Chiaravalle Milanese

Southeast of Milan is Chiaravalle Milanese, noted for its Cistercian abbey church, a fine brick edifice with a tall tower; it was founded by St Bernard of Clairvaux in 1135 and remodeled between 1170 and 1221 and has magnificent Baroque choir-stalls of 1640, an elegant little cloister and a cemetery.
Address: Via Sant'Arialdo 102, I-20139 Milan, Italy

Metanopoli, Italy

Southeast of Milan, in the commune of San Donato Milanese, is Metanopoli (188m/620ft), also called "Captital of Methane" or "Oil City", a satellite town which has grown up since 1940 with the headquarters or branch establishments of the leading Italian oil companies, such as ENI (Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi), SNAM (Società Nazionale Metanodotti), AGIP (Azienda Generale Italiana Petroli, with departments of mining and atomic research) and ANIC (Azienda Nazionale Idrocarburi).

Monza, Italy

Detail of Monza Cathedral.
Northeast of Milan, on the River Lambro, is the industrial town of Monza (162m/535ft; pop. 124,000), which together with Pavia was the place of coronation of the Lombard kings from the 11th century. In the Piazza Roma stands the old Town Hall ("Arengario") of 1293, and close by the cathedral, founded in 590 and rebuilt in the 13th and 14th centuries in Lombard Gothic style, with a beautiful facade and a harmonious interior. In the Cappella di Teodolinda are frescoes and the famous "Iron Crown", said to be the royal crown of the Lombards, with which the German emperors were crowned as kings of Italy. Under the little cloister on the left side of the cathedral the Museo Serpero contains the rich Cathedral Treasury. To the north of Monza stands the Villa Reale, built 1777-80 in Classical style by G. Piermarini (formerly a royal castle; small picture gallery). Nearby is the main entrance to the Parco Reale, through which flows the River Lambro. In the extensive park are the Mirabello racecourse and the well-known motor-racing circuit, as well as golf-courses and polo pitches.

Formula One

Possibly the most famous, and important italian car race of the year is the Monza Formula One. The event takes place in early September.

Lodi, Italy

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