Milan sightseeing tour
Milan sightseeing tour
A sightseeing tour of Milan with a good guide, who knows the city and loves it, is like stringing a necklace onto which you can strand your own personal discoveries and experiences as you walk around and explore the city on your own.
The walk begins with Milan's main attraction for travellers from around the world: the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, known to all as the Duomo, and the square in front of it.
Numerous pigeons attack those wanting to feed them, street musicians often put on an open-air show in front of the square, and appreciative onlookers line the pavement. But the main spectator here is the Cathedral: a majestic silent witness to the passions of mankind, piercing the sky with its spires, built over a long five centuries.
Next door is the Royal Palace, which has served as the official residence of the government for centuries and now hosts many exhibitions.
Across the square from the palace is the famous arcade: the Galleria Victor Emmanuel II, whose equestrian statue stands in the nearby square. Fashionable boutiques sit alongside elegant restaurants and cafés. There's also a free good-luck charm that attracts people who queue up to find a bull mosaic on the marble floor, place your right heel on it, and rotate around its axis three times!
The gallery connects Piazza Duomo with La Scala Square, named after the world-famous theatre of the same name, which is slightly baffling to those who have never seen it before due to its simple and not at all pompous appearance, which in no way matches its world fame.
In the centre of the square is a monument to Leonardo da Vinci, who lived and worked for many years in Milan. If you're in the bohemian neighbourhood of Navigli, have a toast to him too: Da Vinci worked on designing and perfecting the elaborate system of canals that once made Milan resemble Venice. Nowadays, most of the canals have been filled in, while the remaining ones have been given the name of one of the city's liveliest and most popular spots, with lots of bars and restaurants.
The final chord of the walk is the Sforza Royal Castle: a complex fortification from the 15th century, once the seat of the mighty Sforza dynasty and a symbol of its power. The history of the castle counts numerous reconstructions and restorations, Leonardo da Vinci also had a hand in the work on it. At the beginning of the 19th century the castle was in danger of being completely destroyed due to what the people considered to be a symbol of tyranny. Today there are numerous museums located there.
The fountain in the centre of the square in front of the castle, built in the 1930s in honour of a visit by Mussolini, and nicknamed "the wedding cake" because of its shape, attracts locals and tourists with its coolness during the summer heat: you can just sit on its edge and dip your tired feet into the water.