- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
- Teatro alla Scala (La Scala Opera House)
- Castello Sforzesco (Sofrenza Palace) with Pietà
Milan is the capital of the Lombardy region of Italy—the region begins at the Alps near the Switzerland border and goes down to the River Po. The Lombards, a Germanic tribe, resided in the area in 6th century AD were adept at trade and commerce, giving rise to the fame of the region. Today, Milan is still the financial and fashion center of Italy.
We only spent half the day in Milan, so we were only able to visit a few places with the local tour guide. We met our guide at the Palazzo Marino, which is central to the main attractions in the city.
Then we walked to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II—an ornate shopping center built in the shape of a Latin cross with mosaics representing the four continents of the world. Filled with designer brands, the Galleria is a shopping paradise for the wealthy.
As we exited the Galleria, we entered the Piazza del Duomo, where we had a grand view of the Duomo of Milan.
The Duomo is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world and originated from the 14th century.
The outside of the cathedral is made of pink and white marble; the façade is elaborately decorated with several spires and statues. Admission costs 2 euros per person to the cathedral and crypt. We were allowed free time to explore on our own.
The interior of the Duomo was dazzling with 52 pillars and row after row of stained glass windows. One is also able to go into the crypt and light a candle for a small donation.
After a brief respite with cold drinks, we met our tour group back at the Palazzo Marino. From there, we went to the Teatro alla Scala—the grand, neo-classical theater that hosts sumptuous performances. During the tour of the theater, one can see the auditorium and its box galleries surrounding a huge chandelier.
The tour guide also explained the backgrounds behind the famous opera singers—most of whom would appeal to opera fans. There is also a museum that contains sets, costumes, and theatrical items dating to the Roman period. Overall, it was interesting.
Our final stop was at the Castello Sforzesco. The original castle was built by the Visconti family but was demolished and replaced with a Renaissance structure by Francesco Sforza.
The castle boasts of 63 drawbridges and a series of courtyards.
The most ornate courtyard is the Cortille della Rochetta that reminiscent of the courtyards found in Alhambra in Granada, Spain. The museum in the castle houses the unfinished Rondanini Pietà by Michelangelo.
Unfortunately due to time, we were not able to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. Apparently now seeing this mural requires one to make reservation at least 60 days in advance.
Machiavelli, F., Martin, S., Townsend, H., & Tyrrell, N. (Eds.). (2014). Italy. New York, NY: DK Eyewitness Travel.