Known for Fendi and Prada, gallerias of fine art and Leonard's “The Last Supper,” Milan is a delightfully sophisticated introduction to the best of northern Italy.
Although Milan is Italy’s northern capital of high style and fine living, as a modern busy city it is not often the focus of extended tourist visits. However, there are many great works of art that can be appreciated by the family with two to three days in town, in addition to lots of fabulous Italian cuisine.
Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie
Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie, 2
02/89 42 11 46
This church is the site of Leonardo’s famous mural “The Last Supper.” Restorations have attempted to alleviate damage done when Napoleon’s troops used the wall for target practice. The church’s other highlights are often overlooked by its hordes of visitors, the most prominent of which are an exceptional dome and architectural work by Bramante. (Open Monday-Friday 9am to 6pm; Saturday 9am to 2pm.)
Galleria d’Arte Moderna
Via Palestro, 16 20121
02/76 00 28 19
Napoleon and his stepson Eugene lived and administered their Italian kingdom from this villa that now contains an excellent collection of 19th-century art. Works by Cezanne, Gauguin and Pellizza da Volpedo are included. (Open Tuesday-Sunday 9:30am to 5:30pm; closed on Monday.)
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Piazza del Duomo 20121 (Just off Piazza del Duomo and Piazza delle Scala)
02/72 52 43 01
Conveniently located in between the Duomo and La Scala, the shopping in this cross-shaped shopping mall/arcade makes for a great break from stuffy Renaissance museums. Built in the late 19th-century, the Galleria also provides a great opportunity for tourists to sit back and observe modern Milanese culture first hand. Most shops are open daily 9:30am to 7pm, and closed 1 to 3pm for siesta.
Piazza del Duomo 20123
The construction of this gothic cathedral took five centuries to complete, and the end result was the third largest church in the world rising right out of the center of the city. The adornment of the Duomo is magnificent as well, with 135 marble spires, more than 2,000 statues along the exterior, and indoor seating to accommodate a congregation of 40,000. The Museo del Duomo (02/72-02-26-56) is situated just across the plaza in the Palazzo Reale. (Open daily 8:50am to 6:55pm.)
Museums for the Kids (and You!)
Piazza Castello 20121
02/88 46 37 00
An exciting fortress-like castle for kids, and a monument to Renaissance culture for adults, this large structure is a testament to two of Milan’s most powerful families, the Viscontis and the Sforzas. It is these distinguished families that commissioned the frescoes created by Bramante and the rooms designed by Leonardo da Vinci. The miles of salons that surround the palace house works by Bellini, Correggio, Magenta and the last, unfinished piece created by the 90-year-old Michelangelo. Also found among the salons is the Museo d’Arte Antica, which contains an excellent collection of Egyptian funerary objects and prehistoric relics from Lombardy. (Open daily 7am to 6pm/winter; 7am to 7 pm/summer.)
Museo Nazionale della Scienza e delle Tecnica Leonardo da Vinci
Via S Vittore, 21 20123
02/48 55 51
This museum of science and technology housed in a former Benedictine monastery will engage the interests of the whole family with its reconstructions and models of Leonardo’s airplanes, submarines and other engineering masterpieces. The museum is also filled with life-sized carriages, planes, optical devices, typewriters and other exhibits that make up one of the world’s leading collections of mechanical and scientific achievement. (Open Tuesday-Friday 9:30am to 5pm; weekends and holidays 9:30am to 6:30pm.)
Museo Civico Archeologico
Corso Magenta, 15
02/86 45 00 11
Fascinating collections of artifacts from past civilizations adorn this 16th-century monastery. The exhibits include Greek, Etruscan, and Roman pieces found throughout Italy, as well as an excellent collection of the jewelry of Roman Milan. (Open Tuesday-Sunday 9:30am to 5:30pm; closed on Monday.)
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