(Photo by Filip Maljkovic)
Making the Most of Milan
Alright, shoppers, pay attention, because we are going to visit the city dubbed the “shopping capital of the world”! Milan is Italy’s second-largest city and the place where famed designers showcase their fashions each season in glamorous shows, and it is also filled with some amazing architecture and food. You’ll find it all in Milan, including a canal! Who needs Venice? …Well, okay, yeah, you have to visit Venice, too, but we’ll talk about that some other time. Milan is our focus today, so let’s make the most out of this amazing global city.
Paris, London, New York… and Milan! Milan is home to Italy’s fashion week every season, and the world’s top designers show and have shops here. Where will you find the perfect Armani suit or Prada purse? At the Quadrilatero d’Oro, which stands for “rectangle of gold.” The rectangle of gold is a rectangle of four streets where you can spend a ton of dough at the shops of Armani, Chanel, Versace, and many more. If your spouse puts the kibosh on a brand-new, however-many-thousands-of-dollars Prada bag, you can window-shop or check out the Salvagente Outlet Mall for more affordable purchases.
Art and History Buffs, These Are For You
Once you’ve spent all of your money shopping in the rectangle of gold, it’s time to check out the other reason why Milan is so famous worldwide. Anyone ever heard of da Vinci’s The Last Supper? You’ll find this and many other gems in Milan.
For example, the most-talked-about architectural wonder in Milan is the Duomo di Milano, or the Cathedral of Milan, in English. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve learned that cathedrals are big throughout Europe, especially in Italy. Milan’s Duomo di Milano is the perfect example of just how big these babies can get. It took five centuries to build this magnificent Gothic cathedral, which can seat 40,000 people. Since the cathedral’s groundbreaking dates back to 1386, you’ll find numerous historical artifacts (try 3,500 statues alone) spanning over thousands of years.
Let’s jump to the Renaissance period and view what many consider to be the premiere piece of artwork from one of the period’s most influential artists. Book a time (trust me, you’ll need to do this) to explore the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. After viewing the magnificence of the Duomo di Milano, you might think this smaller yet charming church isn’t much to see. You’d be wrong! Inside, you’ll find embellished chapels and naves. After you’ve explored those areas, go to the refectory at your scheduled time to view The Last Supper and be awed. The combination of artwork, architecture, and the history make it no wonder that UNESCO has listed Santa Maria delle Grazie as one of its World Heritage Sites.
You also have to visit a castle while in Milan, so check out the Castellano del Castello Sforzesco, also known as the Szfora Castle – it was Francesco I. Sforza’s home in the 14th century, and he pretty much built and ruled Milan! The citadel in which the castle rests is one of the biggest Europe has to offer. The citadel itself is really something to see, with its observation towers and surrounding walls. Inside the gates, you’ll find some of Milan’s most important and influential museums, including one housing the castle’s art collection itself alongside the museums of Ancient Art, Archaeology, and Musical Instruments and the Egyptian Museum.
For Us Foodies
Note that I said “us” foodies: I’m such a foodie! Italian cuisine never disappoints, and Milan certainly fits well within that sentiment. You have to eat authentic Milan cuisine while in this wonderful city, and if you’re old enough, you also have to enjoy a famous Milanese aperitivo. The best place to do that (and get some free sustenance, since you spent too much money at the rectangle of gold) is at one of the city’s many aperitivo bars. Here, you’ll find the plenty of Aperol and Prosecco spritzers alongside buffets of free munchies to soak up the alcohol.
Other must-eats include the traditional Milanese dish cassoeula, a stew usually made of pork, savoy cabbage, and other vegetables; osso buco, which are veal shanks and vegetables in a white wine sauce; and risotto alla Milanese, which is rice and peas cooked in a wine and butter broth alongside a serving of osso buco.
Where will you find these delicacies? Well, one of the most interesting places to eat in Milan is at one of the restaurants in Navigli. Milan’s answer to Venice, Navigli is a two-canal neighborhood, with one of the canals designed by da Vinci himself (he could do it all!). There are some amazing restaurants in this neighborhood that serve authentic Milanese cuisine, including the dishes I’ve mentioned above. You can also walk off your delicious meal by browsing through the many galleries and shops along the water or enjoy Milan’s exciting nightlife at one of the bars or clubs. Venice in Milan – that’s truly making the most out of Milan!