So you’re heading to Milan and you want to check out some sites other than the Duomo and Castello Sforzesco. Well there’s plenty to see so here’s my top 10 guide for places to visit on your trip!
1. Cimitero Monumentale
This is one of the most hauntingly beautiful places I have ever been to and is definitely somewhere I would recommend tourists and new exchange students visit. The cemetery is brimming with a mix of modern and classical Italian sculptures, ornate mausoleums and an extensive crematorium temple. The entrance to the cemetery is through the Famedio (Temple of Fame), which is ‘a Pantheon-style building dedicated to the memory of the illustrious and worthiest, local and adopted, citizens of Milan, who have made Milan famous in Italy and in the world. A place of growing importance in the cemetery, both symbolically and for its serious and creative architecture. The interior space is distinctive in its lively many-coloured decoration, where the cobalt-blue vault, sprinkled with golden stars, combines with the frescoes that adorn the walls, in brick-red, ochre and broad green bands’ (Milano Commune). I would follow up the visit with a gelato at Il Massimo, one of the most incredible gelaterias in Milano.
2. Parco Sempione e Arco della Pace e Triennalle
Parco Sempione is the largest city park in Milan with views of both the Castello Sforzesco and Arco della Pace. It also contains one of the most prestigious galleries in Milan, the Triennale. It’s worth heading up to the rooftop bar, which is currently open as part of the Expo to check out the views. This park really comes alive during the summer and spring months as friends and family gather outside to sunbathe, eat and drink. There’s also Bocce games on most days that you could join in on!
3. Villa Necchi e Via Cappuccini
Villa Nechhi is a 1930’s home that was gifted to the city of Milan by its owners in 2001. Having housed the family who invented the sewing machine (how cool is that?!) the property has now been converted into a museum and cafe. The architecture purports to represent a transition between Art Deco and Rationalist styles, which is a key trademark of the designer Piero Portaluppi. For me it’s a beautiful place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets and sit by the pool side. Whilst you’re in the area I would also recommend heading to Via Cappuccini to check out the estate with a dozen flamingos in the yard. Yes, real flamingos! They are gorgeous!
4. Bocconi University
So if you’re a student here then you’ll probably be traversing the campus day in day out but if you’re visiting Milan as a tourist then you may or may not have time to visit the buildings of Bocconi. If you do have spare time in your itinerary then do it because it’s such an incredible way to see how Milan is attempting to modernise itself through architecture. The newest buildings are based on the concepts of floating volumes and diffuse natural lighting. And if the architecture isn’t enough to allure you then come for the food! Plenty of incredible cafes and restaurants in the area to visit!
5. Fondazione Prada
Fondazione Prada houses the very first cafe designed by Wes Anderson and boy oh boy ain’t it a beauty! Aside from the scrumptious food and the quirky interior Fondazione Prada also has a number of permanent and temporary exhibitions to view and an entire building that is coloured gold?! So if you love fashion, food and art get here quick!
I never got to spend as much time as I had wanted here when I was in Milan as I lived literally on the other side of town (and Milan is huge!!) but from the half a dozen times or so I visited Brera I absolutely loved it. This is a very wealthy area with incredible buildings, high-end fashion headquarters, luxury restaurants and beautiful galleries. It’s fun to wonder the streets and find your way to and from the main square in Brera where you can sit, sip an espresso (or my fave a marochino) and people watch.
Now that Piazza Ventiquattro Maggio and the nearby canals construction has finished Navigli is a lot easier to navigate with a whole bunch of new events, cafes and markets taking place daily. For me the Navigli is one of the coolest areas to visit in Milan, especially during the night when everyone comes out for aperitivo, which is a perfect way for friends to meet on a budget (one drink = a meal essentially… but not all places are like this, some expect you to balance your drink purchases and meal consumption fairly whilst others work on a buffet style). From here I would also recommend walking to Mercato Metropolitano and Via Vigevano!
8. Museo del Novecento
Right next to the Duomo is the Museo del Novecento. I visited recently when they had the Yves Klein exhibition on and the second floor was covered with a blue dust floor overlooking the Duomo. If you’re into art then I would recommend a visit and if you’re not then perhaps you could go to La Rinascente for a view over the Duomo rather than MdN.
9. The New Milan – Unicredit Tower, Gae Aulenti, Bosco Verticale e 10 Corso Como
Cesar Pelli’s Unicredit skyscraper is a symbol of modern Milan located in the Porta Nuova district. Nearby you’ll also see Bosco Verticale, which is the worlds very first “vertical forrest” and it’s an incredible building that is worth checking out. Adjacent to the Unicredit building is the Piazza Gae Aulenti containing a number of retail stores and cafes with a new building currently under construction (does anyone know what it is??). Having strolled along to see the architecture I would recommend visiting 10 Corso Como, it’s a little bit touristy but still a favourite of many local Milanese for shopping and food. For me the collection of niche fragrances is one of the best I have seen in the world so worth trying a few scents. The food is also delicious but a little expensive.
10. Centrale Stazione
Italy’s second largest station is also one of its most beautiful. With an undefined architectural style Centrale provides an elegant invitation to take a train journey somewhere fabulous for the weekend. Although I should warn, train stations are notorious for pick-pockets so be mindful of where your valuables are. The interior is light and airy with a couple of delicious eating spots to visit before your travels.
So there it is my friends, your guide to the Top 10 places to visit during your stay in Milan. Have you got any other recommendations for what to see, eat and do?? Leave a comment below! 🙂