The second largest and biggest Italian city lies somewhere there, to the north-west. It is an economic and financial centre of the country as well as one the world’s most prominent capitals of fashion and design. The historic and cultural heritage and the blend of various epochs turn it into one of the most famous tourist destinations and a preferred place for art-lovers and tourists with strong inclinations to cross-century travels. All these facts combined have coined the city’s name – the Moral Capital of Italy.
M I L A N O
For sure, most of the city tours start from the emblematic Duomo di Milano. The Milan Cathedral was built in the course of only six centuries 🙂 and is an exceptional architectural Gothic masterpiece. It’s extremely spacious inside and as far as I know, it ranks among the five largest cathedrals in the world. Its opulent decoration gives you the feeling of being in another world. But, there is no doubt that the most attractive and special place of Il Duomo is its roof. It’s not the typical roof the other cathedrals have – tiny, overcrowded and with no space to step and indulge in the breathtaking views.
No … The roof resembles terraces with pinnacles and spires close-up among which you enjoy the most marvelous views of the city of Milan (by the way, on clear days the mountains might be seen on the horizon). If you have already got tired and you need a rest, take a break along the alleys hugged by statues on the roof or if you are already in front the Duomo, sit on the stairs for a while gazing at the passerbyers in Piazza del Duomo.
Normally, tourists prefer the stairs of the Cathedral because they are accompanied by Mr Panzerotto. Maybe you think he is a human being that is an attraction of the city. Yes, he somehow attracts piles of tourists and locals alike on a daily basis. And, no, he is not a human being but a small, stuffed, folded pizza (or better described as a small calzone) with a filling of pomodori and mozzarella. Principally, il panzerotto is known to be a local specialty of the city of Milan but as a matter of fact, it’s native to southern Italy.
Allora … Ready?! No?! Comeeee oooon … It’s Milan and we shouldn’t waste time. Move, move, we are going to la Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II. It is considered one of the oldest shopping malls in the world although it was built relatively late (between 1865 – 1877). The street connecting the city’s two landmarks (il Duomo and La Scala) is covered by glazed arcades that intersect in an octagon. The glass and cast iron roof is splendid and the central space is topped with a marvelous dome of glass beneath which there are mosaics describing the Coat of Arms of Milan and of the 3 capitals (Turin, Florence and Rome) of the Kingdom of Italy. Turin’s Coat of Arms is a very interesting one because it will bring you much luck if you follow the traditions of spinning around on the genitals of the bull. But you should do it on your heel and three times. 😀
I hope you feel fine after the spinning. If so, your luck will bring you to another great square – la Piazza della Scala that is surrounded by some historic buildings like il Palazzo Marino (it belonged to a rich local tax collector named Tommaso Marino) and the monument to Leonardo da Vinci whose Renaissance paintings codes have not been reveal yet. The monument was built 1872 in dedication to the genius engineer, painter, sculptor and architect. These are only a few of the disciplines he mastered and are depicted in the reliefs. Actually, Leonardo lived and worked in the Cradle of the Renaissance and lots of other towns but here he left one of his most famous works, i.e. the Last Supper (L’Ultima Cena or Il Cenacolo). Today the late 15th-century painting is housed in the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie Church in Milan that is situated in another direction, actually.
After having struggled with other tourists to get a photo take in front of Leonardo’s large pedestal, it’s high time we dived into the world of opera in La Sacala. One of the most famous opera houses has always attracted the most talented and popular opera singers and artists. It’s always been renowned for its excellent performances and performers from all over the world. Nowadays the neoclassical building from 1778 also houses a splendid museum dedicated to opera art and operatic artists.
Some small theatres are also located in Via Dante that is at a short distance from la Piazza della Scala and Piazza del Duomo. It’s an elegant pedestrian street where you can have a nice stroll, do some shopping in the numerous boutiques and shops or have a meal or coffee in one of the restaurants, cafés and bars.
And going farther and farther along Via Dante, of course, you will reach the next landmark of Milan. It is il Castello Sforzesco and the adjacent Parco Sempione in the historic centre of the city. The 15th century castle is heritage from the House of Sforza and is an explicit example of the power of the ruling family based in Milan during the Renaissance. Today the Sforza Castle with its museums and art galleries is the Mecca for art-lovers.
Not less splendid is Parco Sempione where natives and tourists have a nice time after work or at weekends or do jogging to and back from l’Arco della Pace (Porta Sempione, as it is also known, is the triumphal arch of Milan). Arena Civica located in the city park is not only a multi-purpose city stadium but also a preferable concert venue. On the other hand, admirers of breathtaking views can ascend la Torre Branca and get the most awesome views of the city, the Alps, the Apennines and even of the Po Valley. Nice, a? Last but not least, both children and adults can spend time in the Acqua World if they visit l’Acquario Civico di Milano. The small aquarium of Milan is placed at one of the ends of the park and it offers you a short sea journey in the heart of the cosmopolitan city. Its fish tanks are several in number as well as the fish species but for sure, it will give you much pleasure getting acquainted with the sea life.
Now let us take ATM and enter the world of the tifosi. Whom will you support at San Siro? Milan or Inter? Great …. Before we head to Giuseppe Meazza, have you already taken your fan scarfs? I hope you have. So, here we are. While we are waiting for la partita (the match) to start we can visit the stadium museum that displays the cups won, some of the prominent footballers and history of both teams that co-use San Siro. The guided tour is short but interesting and it energizes us for the forthcoming spectacle that will make a start in few minutes. The football stands are full of exalted fans. The two teams are on the field ready for the kick-the-ball-game….And yessss …. 600 feet ….. Goooooaaaaal ….. Gooooo, Milan, gooooo 😉
If you don’t fall for football, you might miss today’s football game and stay in the city centre getting the utmost of the flavour of the Mediterranean. What I mean is that you can take advantage of the Italian Aperitivo (or aperitif time) that is like the Anglo-Saxon ‘Happy Hour’ and that has nothing in common with Spanish tapas (except for the fact that they are small snacks, too). It was introduced by i milanesi (the residents of Milan) in Italy. The concept of Aperitivo is that guests purchase a drink at the bar and help themselves to free buffet-style snacks. Most often aperitivo menu consists of finger food, sandwiches, simple cured meats, fresh bread, crisps and pretzels. Principally, aperitivo time is between 6-10pm and is offered by many bars, lounges and street cafès in lots of cities in Lombardy (in Milan, in particular) as well as all over Italy.
Buon divertimento, amici, nella cittá morale d’Italia. 🙂
Have a nice time, friends, in the moral capital of Italy. 🙂