Milan: The industrial capital of Italy and much more

By on 22nd November 2016

Since ancient times, Milan city has been an important crossroad in the middle of many populations, that’s why it was called by Latins Mediolanum, which means: just in the midst of something. Nowadays Milan has a strong image of an industrial and very productive place: There are many companies, engineering industries, good universities, financial institutions and the fashion week too. It’s one of the reasons that Milan is one of the fashion capitals of the world. But Milan has more to offer, like the Duomo and the Sforza Castle. Forum of Europe checked it out.  

Although Milan is probably known for its typical grey and foggy atmosphere, which seems to swallow up buildings and people for most of the year, it is quite a nice place where you can spend some relaxing days during a city trip. Just to start, it is well connected with the world by three airports, and it owns a good and efficient rail system keeping it in touch with the fundamental Italian cities, and in particular with near European countries, such as Switzerland and Austria. So it’s easy to get there and it’s easy to move around. – Continued below ⇓

duomo-frontThe Milan Cathedral | Photo: Gemma Delle Cave

The symbol of this northern Italy city is the gothic Cathedral in the main place, with its characteristic multitude of pigeons around it. It’s so gigantic that it is very difficult to take picture of the entire construction. It’s the third biggest catholic church in the world and the biggest in Italy (not counting the St. Peters in Vatican City), in fact. In the inner space, by looking briefly upwards you can see infinity of majestic columns and colored glass windows. Outside, if you look at the top, among 135 spires, you manage to glimpse the famous golden ‘Madunina’ statue. The shiny sculpture is a representation of the Virgin Mary, the Cathedral is dedicated to. You can watch her up close from the roof of the Duomo, where you can also admire a great view, especially when the sun goes down and seems to caress all the spires.

All of this, as you realize, reminds people of their absolute smallness. When you enter it, a sense of astonishment comes over you, not only for the greatness of the location itself, but places like these leave you a taste of something superhuman, even if you are not religious and don’t believe in God. The ticket for visiting the Cathedral is also valid for its museum situated outdoor on the left side: there you can appreciate all the works related to the construction of the church, such as an architectonic model, but also marble and terracotta sculptures. – Continued below ⇓

sforza-insideThe inside of the Duomo | Photo: Gemma Delle Cave

On the right of the place where the Cathedral is located, there is a passage gallery called ‘Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II’, with lots of restaurants, fashion stores and lots of souvenirs shops. Coming out of gallery, there is a little park where you can take a short break and the statue of genius Leonardo Da Vinci, and in front of it the famous Milan opera theatre ‘Teatro alla Scala’ and its museum. It’s a nice walk and a good way to combine different sites and activities in one day. – Continued below ⇓

gallery Photo: Gemma Delle Cave

Sforza Castle
Another cornerstone of this city is Sforza Castle. You can reach it from Milan Cathedral to Cairoli station by the red metro line. It was built as a fortification by the Visconti dynasty, but the Milan duke Francesco Sforza rebuilt it to create his residence. In the following centuries the castle went through lots of changes under just as many dynasties. It consists of an amazing structure that hosts the big Sempione Park with its nice lake inside of its walls. In the end of it towers the ‘Arco Della Pace’, a triumphal arc dedicated to the peace achieved at the Vienna Congress in 1815. – Continued below ⇓

sforza-front Outside of Sforza Castle |Photo: Gemma Delle Cave
park-with-arcBehind the walls of Sforza Castle you can spot the Arco Della Pace |Photo: Gemma Delle Cave

Naviglio Grande
In your typical weekend in Milan, it is also essential to take a walk on ‘Naviglio Grande’, the Lombard navigable canal. The perfect moment of the day is the afternoon at the sunset surrounded by all the lights, but it also represents the moment of happy hour, the typical aperitif as we know with good food and good drinks. – Continued below ⇓

canalPhoto: Gemma Delle Cave

In addition to this, if you have enough time to spend in your holidays you could stop in Brera picture gallery, where lots of important pieces are kept, like The famed ‘La Primavera’ by Sandro Botticelli and the kiss by Francesco Hayez, for instance. And if you had reserved ticket online before the date of your trip, you could also manage to see ‘L’ultima Cena’ painted by great Leonardo, situated in the church ‘Santa Maria delle Grazie’; you can go there from Sforza Castle by feet.

As a matter of fact, it is common knowledge that lots of Italians think Milan is too full of smog and expensive, full of rich and pampered people, and essentially it has nothing to see as museums or monuments. If you want to visit an amazing city, lots of characteristic locations and histories, enjoy emblematic food, you don’t have to consider Milan, but the importance and attraction of Milan is undeniable, as it is the center of the Italian economy. So if you want to combine a modern city trip with a little fashion and some historical sites, Milan is a nice destination, because there still is enough history and beauty to marvel at.

stained-glass-duomo-and-da-vinciPhoto: Gemma Delle Cave