BRERA ARTS DISTRICT + PINACOTECA DI BRERA
Via Brera 28
+39 2 72 26 32 64
The Brera Arts District is Milan's answer to Montmartre - a little seedy, a little Bohemian - with serpentine streets and enough grit to feel real. It's home to the Brera Academy of Fine Arts which lends to the artsy feel of the neighborhood, but the crown jewel here is the Pinacoteca di Brera, one of the most glorious collections of Italian art you'll see anywhere. With everyone from Piero della Francesca to Caravaggio, Titian and Tintoretto, it's well worth the couple of hours it will take to wander the galleries of the palazzo, as well as the Orto Botanico behind the museum where you can find vegetable gardens and Europe's oldest ginkgo biloba trees. After your visit stop into any of the cafes for a cappuccino or glass of wine and soak in the creativity,
DUOMO DI MILANO
It's really the center of Milan, and as such holds a super important spot in the city, as it should. The church was started in 1385 and the last gate was inaugurated in 1965 - that's a really freakin' long time. It's often said that The Duomo is more beautiful than the Cathedral of Seville in Spain and even St Peter's in Rome, and while I'm not sure I agree with that, it is a pretty spectacular building. The best view, of course, is from the roof and I promise you, the walk up is worth it and much easier than waiting for the elevator!
It's a castle. In the middle of the city. How cool is that? Seriously - a 20 minute walk from the Duomo takes you back in time to the 12th century when castles just were. Today, the Sforza is home to quite a few museums and libraries, the most intriguing being the Trivulziana Library which holds Da Vinci's Codex Trivulzianus. Yep, it's the real life DaVinci Code.
TEATRO ALLA SCALLA
Via Filodrammatici 2
+39 2 88 791
Going to a cultural event in another country - even when you're not so into it at home - feels incredibly indulgent. I am seriously not a fan of opera, but there's something so romantic about walking into an opera house that is as opulent as any castle, steeped in so much history. La Scala is just that, and has long been considered one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world. And even if you're not so into sitting down to a concert, take a tour ( I hear the Ansaldo Workshops are really amazing) or visit the museum.
Because I was only in Milan for a few days, and because I can't possibly know everything, I often turn to the New York Times for advice on travel. I really love their 36 Hours In ... series, and unfortunately I didn't think of it before my trip, so missed some of their recommendations, but thought I'd share them with you here:
36 HOURS IN MILAN