Stylish, modern, a land of fashion and design, the city of Milan is full of surprises. Book a flight to Milan to admire the new futuristic skyline of Porta Nuova and Piazza Gae Aulenti, go shopping in the most upmarket boutiques and sip cocktails in the trendiest bars.
But there is much more to Milan than this: between aperitifs in the Navigli neighbourhood and window shopping on Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga, you can also admire masterpieces of ancient architecture such as Milan Cathedral, the Royal Palace, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the prestigious La Scala theatre and the majestic Sforzesco Castle, or perhaps lose yourself in the narrow streets of the Brera artistic quarter. Below you will find a few suggestions of the most interesting things to see during a trip to Milan.
PIAZZA DEL DUOMO
It is the historic centre of Milan, the location of the magnificent Gothic Milan Cathedral, which is made from white and rose marble and was commissioned by the Duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti. The cathedral's construction took five centuries and the work of countless architects, sculptors and artists. On its dome, keeping watch as a protector of the city, is a bronze statue of the Virgin Mary sculpted by Giuseppe Perego in 1774 – the famous Madonnina, the symbol of Milan. On the right hand side of the square you will find the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade, stylishly decorated and full of historic bars, luxury boutiques and restaurants, and which leads to the Piazza della Scala and its famous opera house.
Built by Duke Francesco Sforza in the 15th century on the remains of a previous fortress, the Sforzesco Castle is another Milan icon. Long hated, as it was considered a symbol of foreign domination, it survived all planned assaults and attempts to destroy it. With Italian unification, it lost its intimidating character and became one of the most loved symbols of the people of Milan. It was overhauled to be used as a cultural centre and today hosts various civic museums, as well as numerous educational courses and events.
The city's artistic quarter. Picturesque and bohemian, characterised by cobblestone streets and spacious courtyards, Brera is dotted with bars and restaurants packed full of students, painters and the inevitable tourists. The neighbourhood's main attraction is the Palazzo Brera, an historic convent from the 14th century that houses the Pinacoteca di Brera gallery, as well as the Academy and Botanical Garden. In the gallery you can admire masterpieces from Italian artists including Caravaggio, Raphael, Bellini, Bramante, Mantegna, Tintoretto and Modigliani, as well as international artists such as Rubens and Rembrandt.
It is the most romantic and evocative neighbourhood in the city and a popular destination for aperitifs and nightlife thanks to the presence of countless bars, restaurants and discos. It takes its name from the two canals (navigli) that pass through it, the Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese, two of the few remaining waterways from the ancient system of navigable canals that once passed through the entire city. The project involved more than a few engineers and architects over the years, including a certain Leonardo da Vinci. A unique neighbourhood, to be visited during the day to admire and at night to live it.
PIAZZA GAE AULENTI
Starting from the new smart district of Porta Nuova, an enormous urban regeneration project in the name of sustainability and progress, the Piazza Gae Aulenti is the central symbol of a new Milan that looks to the future. At the centre there are three infinity fountains and a 105-meter bench-sculpture, with two futuristic skyscrapers on either side. Near to the square and visible from there rises another famous architectural piece from the new Milan: the Bosco Verticale, a perfect synthesis of living space and sustainability.
The best time to book a flight from Hamburg to Milan Linate is probably in the spring, when the mild sun and temperatures mean you can enjoy the best of the city. This is also the time of the Design Week, with Milan Furniture Fair and the contemporary FuoriSalone, a week packed full with events, parties and exhibitions. Another great time to visit Milan is the Christmas period, when you can enjoy festive window displays and countless markets, where you can find original souvenirs. Milan Fashion Week is also held in the fashion district in January and February and September and October and features the latest autumn/winter and spring/summer collections.
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