There is a wealth of activities to keep any visitor occupied in Milan for days on end.
The city’s center merges fashion with rich heritage allowing any flying visit to make the best of both. Milan is also the city from which to explore the lakes – Como and Maggiore are just a short trip north and are just as fashionable as the city itself.
EXPLORE THE LAKES
Having been a popular retreat for the wealthy since Roman times, Lake Como is adorned with many spectacular towns and villas. Villa d’Este—formerly a Renaissance palace and now a world famous— hotel has beautiful gardens and a fine restaurant. Villa Carlotta, a UNESCO heritage site and the lakeside Villa del Balbianello are also attractive palaces and gardens in which to take a stroll. But this stunning setting, nestled hills and mountains, has also been recognised by today’s elite, in particular George Clooney who ownes a house here and is often seen zipping across the lake in speedboats.
Lake Maggiore contains the famous Borromee Islands situated right in the center of the Lake. The gardens and palaces of these islands are rich in grand baroque and renaissance brilliance. Isola Madra is the largest and boasts gardens full of exotic plants and wildlife. But it is Isola Bella that has the most renowned gardens, ironic since it is far smaller than its cousin. The creators of this garden were not dissuaded by this, instead they created an almost vertical garden that rises in terraces towards its pinnacle, a ‘must see’ for any garden lover.
Further afield, Lake Garda is the largest lake of the three and the most popular for its climate is the most accommodating – winds coming off the mountains provide perfect summer sailing weathers. Garda is also incredibly popular during the Italian Grand Prix when VIPs are whisked to and from the track by helicopter.
One of the biggest citadels in Europe and also one of its finest Renaissance residences, Castello Sforzesco is an imposing monument.
Its museums are the main attraction and are rich in paintings and sculpture, including Michelangelo’s last piece of work, the unfinished Rondanini Pietà. Works by Mantegna, Antonello da Messina, Foppa, Procaccini and many others are also on display. The massive battlements and towers are worth a visit in their own right as they tell a story of Milan’s rebellious past.
The ‘must-see’ landmark of Milan, the Duomo is a gothic masterpiece with its white marble façade and flying buttresses.
It took five centuries to complete and it is now the largest gothic cathedral in the world. The interior is as impressive as the outside, the space simple but vast with five great aisles stretching from door to altar. For the most spectacular view climb up the narrow staircases to the roof terraces from where you can see the whole historic center of Milan through the magnificent gothic spirals of the cathedral.
DA VINCI’S LAST SUPPER IN SANTA MARIA DELLE GRAZIE
The Last Supper is one of the most famous paintings in the world and it is displayed on the north wall within the striking Santa Maria delle Grazie church.
Having taken two years to complete, viewing this stunning painting is an unforgettable experience. It is well worth booking your own private visit outside of normal opening times so you can enjoy this mystical masterpiece in complete peace and privacy.
PINACOTECA DI BRERA
Pinacoteca di Brera houses one of Italy’s finest art collections – 38 rooms are filled with pieces by famous artists such as Raphael, Mantegna and Caravaggio.
Rooms flow chronologically allowing you to walk through and experience the Renaissance era as it unfolds. The gallery contains some real gems such as The Kiss by Francesco Hayez and Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio.