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Milan is a well known capital of all things catwalk and generally cool, being the world fashion capital and one of the most luxury cities to live in! But before you go, make sure you don’t get ripped-off and experience the autnetic side to this stylish city,with the Top 25 things to see and do in Milan in 72 hours sponsored by Milan Design Agenda!
Milan’s magnificent Gothic cathedral is the third largest catholic church in the world (after St Peter’s in Rome and the cathedral of Seville) and sublimely dominates both the great piazza on which it is located and the city of which it has long been the centre. Five hundred years in the making, it contains 3,500 statues. Its 135 spires can be viewed up close on the roof, accessible by lift or stairs.
Piazza del Duomo. Open 7am-7pm; rooftop open 9am-6pm
‘Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping,’ quipped the actress Bo Derek; and shopaholics bound for Milan know that the password is ‘Montenapo’. Via Monte Napoleone, Milan luxury avenue of ‘Quadrilatero d’Oro‘, is home to Gucci’s flagship store, along with Roberto Cavalli, Dolce&Gabbana, Prada, Valentino and Versace; Giorgio Armani’s superstore and his new hotel are at either end. All the italian luxury fashion brands in one place! This is more than you’ve imagined for “things to see and do in Milan!”
Gucci, via Monte Napoleone 5-7
*Villa Necchi Campiglio
Built for a sewing-machine tycoon in the 1930s, this brilliant example of Milanese modernism was recently restored. The exquisite interior can be viewed on a guided tour; the grounds contain a swimming pool, pictured, and restaurant. The villa was the super-elegant location for the 2009 film I Am Love, starring Tilda Swinton.
Via Mozart 14. Open Wed-Sun 10am-6pm
Designed by Giulio Ulisse Arata in 1913, this is one of several examples of Milan’s ebullient early-modern architecture in the area known as the Zone of Silence. The house is a cocktail of Gothic, Renaissance and Liberty elements, richly adorned with mosaics, paintings and sculptures, including this one of ‘Winged Victory’. Just across the street is a large private garden, visible through railings, which is home to a flock of pink flamingos.
Via Cappuccini 8
Close to the heart of Montenapo, Milan’s ‘Quadrilatero d’Oro‘, a 15th-century convent has been transformed into one of Milan’s best hotels. Set between via Monte Napoleone and via della Spiga, the Four Seasons Hotel Milano has the largest rooms in the city, each individually designed, and its famous foyer piano bar is the perfect place to meet.
Via Gesù 6/8
Another of the early-modern curiosities of the Zone of Silence is this entry-phone, designed in the form of a giant ear, at the entrance to a block of flats on via Serbelloni. The sculptor, Adolfo Wildt (1868-1931), who was noted for his virtuosity with marble, also designed an iconic black-marble bust of Mussolini and a spooky Madonna whose ultra-smooth facial contours are reminiscent of ET in the Steven Spielberg film. His work has recently enjoyed a revivalin the USA.
Via Serbelloni 10
*Camparino in Galleria
At the Piazza del Duomo entrance to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is Milan’s most celebrated bar. Known until recently as Zucca, it’s been there since the Galleria opened in 1867; former regulars included Verdi and Toscanini. Its interior, listed as a historic monument drips with belle époque detail: the mosaics, the wrought-iron chandeliers and the carved bar itself.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Known simply as ‘the home of opera’ for more than 200 years, La Scala was inaugurated in its present form in 1778 and became a symbol of Italian resistance to Austrian rule in the 19th century. With a recently added fly tower and rehearsal rooms, largely unseen behind the façade, La Scala has entered a new era under artistic director Stéphane Lissner. Daniel Barenboim has been appointed musical director. A museum next door charts the theatre’s rich history.
Via Filodrammatici 2
The soaring arcade of stone, glass and wrought iron that links piazza del Duomo with La Scala was built by a British firm, the City of Milan Improvement Company, and opened by King Vittorio Emanuele II in 1867. More than an upmarket shopping arcade, it has echoed to the tramp of 140 years of protest marches; today knots of locals can still be found loudly discussing the behaviour of the government in what is called ‘the drawing room of the Milanese’.
*Piazza dei Mercanti
This was the medieval centre of the city and is preserved pretty much as it was centuries ago. Within the piazza is the Loggia degli Osii, an ancient administrative building from the balcony of which the city fathers used to address the citizens, and the Palazzo della Ragione (Palace of Reason) which in 2010 hosted a hugely successful Caravaggio exhibition. Walking away from the cathedral, go down via Mercanti, the street that bears right. The piazza is a few yards along on the left.
Milan used to be thickly webbed withnavigli (canals), the arterial trade links to the countryside. Most have sadly disappeared, but the banks of two of the remaining ones, and the basin where they join up, known as Darsena, have in the past two decades become the city’s liveliest area for informal drinking, dining, browsing in antique shops or simply strolling by the water. The area is south-west of the centre and within walking distance of Porta Genova on Metro line 2.
Work on Milan’s new central railway station was already under way when Mussolini transformed it into a symbol of Fascist muscularity and national pride. The result, completed in 1931, was overbearingly huge and intimidating, with long, steep flights of steps to the platforms. An ambitious refurbishment, completed last year, has left the station much more pleasant to use and with many shops, including an excellent Feltrinelli bookshop.
During the past 20 years, the low rents and wide open interior spaces of the former industrial buildings around via Tortona have made them a magnet for designers, restaurants (including God Save the Food, pictured), museums, shops and hotels. Clinching the district’s status as a major creative hub are local projects by architect David Chipperfield: an old steel factory is being converted into museums, a centre for visual studies, an auditorium and more. Porta Genova Metro station (line 2) is 10 minutes’ walk away.
The Duomo’s only rival as a symbol of Milan is the tram: it may be slow but there is no cosier way to negotiate the city’s streets. Milan has 17 remaining tramlines, including the splendid, unmodernisedlines 1 and 5, whose single, antiquated-looking cars trundle through the city centre. The best way to ride them is to buy an open ticket called a biglietto giornaliero at any newsagent or Metro station. It costs €4.50 and covers one day’s unlimited travel on buses, trams and the Metro.
*The Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio
Hidden away in the back streets near the castle is the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio. Named after the fourth-century bishop who became Milan’s patron saint, it runs the Duomo a close second as the city’s most important church. Within its sober, red-brick walls, it is packed with history and artistic masterpieces, including a solid-gold 12th-century altar: the saint’s embalmed body is underneath it. The church is a short walk from Sant’Ambrogio Metro station (Line 2).
Piazza Sant’Ambrogio, 15
Milan-based interior Designer Vincenzo de Cotiis is known for his interiors projects for private homes and luxury hospitality…But there is one that deserves your attention this weekend, T’a Milano Restaurant!
*Hotel Principe di Savoia
A reassuring gust of old-fashioned opulence greets one on entering this grand hotel which dominates piazza della Repubblica. Guests would be advised to check any modern design obsessions at the door: here the watchword is traditional luxury, with acres of marble, elegant furnishings, excellent service, a spectacular pool and one of the city’s best gyms.
Piazza della Repubblica 17
*10 Corso Como
Opened in 1990 on a former industrial site near the city centre, 10 Corso Como is an oasis of high style, combining an art gallery, a superb design bookshop, an idiosyncratic fashion boutique and a charming courtyard café; there are also rooms, though it is advisable to book well in advance. From Porta Garibaldi on Metro line 2, walk along viale Luigi Sturzo towards piazza Sigmund Freud, then take the first right.
Corso Como, 10
*Trinnale di Milano
Founded in 2007, Italy’s first permanent design museum is located in the building that hosts the city’s design show every three years. Its rotating programme of exhibitions includes art and photography as well as product, furniture and graphic design from around the world. There is a cool café at the back, with tables outside in summer. The museum is near the Cadorna FNM-Triennale stop on Metro lines 1 and 2.
Milan has one of Europe’s most vigorous movements of popular resistance to capitalism, which often finds expression in the long-term occupation of large industrial or other buildings. Leoncavallo is one such centro sociale, or squat, and claims to be the biggest in Europe. Decorated with graffiti art, it offers jazz, political debates, alternative theatre, food and drink. It’s a 10-minute walk from Turro and Rovereto on Metro line 1.
Via Watteau 7
The city’s former hub of power is one kilometre north-west of the Duomo. Built in the 14th century by the Visconti family, the castle was converted into a cultural treasure-house around 1900. Its 12 museums and archives cover art from ancient times to the Renaissance, and there’s a lively programme of exhibitions.
In her catwalk shows in Milan and Paris, Miuccia Prada, the maverick genius of Italian fashion, continues to dazzle and enchant with her lightning-quick changes of mood and material. But she has also proved adept in the more traditional realm of luggage, which was the mainstay of the family firm when she reluctantly took it over in the 1970s. This collection of riveted trunks and cases is on display at her shop in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
*Giacomo Arengario bar
Giacomo Arengario is the restaurant at the Museo del Novecento, the sensational museum of 20th-century art set in a converted palazzo overlooking piazza del Duomo, which opened in December 2010. An offshoot of the classic Tuscan restaurant Da Giacomo on via Sottocorno, Giacomo Arengario – and particularly its gleaming cocktail bar – has rapidly established itself as a hotspot for Milan’s art-and-fashion crowd.
Via Marconi 1
*San Siro football stadium
Home to both the local sides, AC Milan and Inter, the stadium is seven kilometres from the city centre. It was completed in 1925 and expanded at a cost of US$60 million for Italy’s 1990 World Cup. Today, with the 11 hulking concrete access towers that are its modern trademark, it is an all-seater stadium for 80,000 spectators. The best way to reach it is by tram 16, from the west side of the Duomo to piazzale Segesta, the end of the line.
Giorgio Armani’s fingerprints are all over Milan’s fashion district, but this is his most ambitious and unusual project in the city: a former Nestlé chocolate factory south-west of the centre, converted into a theatre by Tadao Ando, the world-famous Japanese architect. The match is a good one, Ando’s roots being in Osaka, a city comparable to Milan for both grittiness and enterprise; Armani’s sombre palette also chimes with Ando’s greys and subtle effects of light.
Via Bergognone 59
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