Duomo Milan

Milan

Milan’s EXPO

Set to be the biggest ever, the theme is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’. With 140 participating countries, it will be the biggest event on nutrition in the world. Here are some facts:

  • 1 million square metres: the site will be equivalent in size to the 8th largest city in Italy
  • 250,000: number of expected visitors per day
  • €800 million: the operating costs
  • 15,000: number of volunteers over six months
  • 53/4 pavilions: there were 42 at Shanghai’s EXPO in 2010

But what else is there to do while you’re in Milan…

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Eat cheese!

Taleggio, Gorgonzola, Stracchino, Mascarpone… are all made in the Lombardy area. My favourite, gorgonzola, has been made since AD 879 (though the marbling was only acquired in the 11th century). Taleggio has been around since Roman times, and was mentioned in the writings of Cicero, Cato the Elder and Pliny the Elder. There’s also a fair bit of Grano Padano too. And, there’s much more to do than eat delicious cheese…

Navigli

Check out the canal area, now a bustling place for bars, restaurants and countless venues for live music. El Brellin is a charming place serving modern Lombardian cooking, including the classic risotto Milanese. The canal network is linked to the genius of Leonardo and the ‘I Navigli di Leonardo’ canal cruise is a great way of experiencing them.

Milan Restaurants

L’Arte is a stylish concept store that opened in October 2013, and serves breakfast through to dinner. The food is inspired by Il Riccio, the wonderful Michelin-starred restaurant in Capri, so expect plenty of fresh fish, vegetables and pasta, all served in an innovative way. The place also features works of art, furniture and handicrafts.  The Ristorante gli Orti di Leonardo, as its name suggests, has the additional bonus of being located in front of a vineyard and orchard. Both were given to Leonardo by Ludovico ‘Il Moro’ Sforza, who invited him to Milan, and probably commissioned ‘The Last Supper’.

Duomo

It’s got 200 spires, 3,400 statues, and no dome… that’s the Duomo (the name comes from ‘Domus’). It’s one of the most important Gothic buildings in the world. Construction begain in 1386, and took more than 450 years to complete. The incredible views from the roof include a sightline of the newest ‘spire’ on the skyline, Unicredit Tower.

La Scala

A temple for classical music and ballet… though with its reputation for catcalling ‘loggionisti‘, some give it a wide berth. Even Pavarotti suffered the humiliation when he performed Verdi’s Don Carlos back in 1992. In 2006 divo Roberto Alagna left the stage during a performance of Aida after he was booed, and he has refused to go back. The Amici del Loggione (Friends of the Gallery) association, who are responsible for the catcalling, are unrepentant, dismissing Alagna’s reaction as ‘infantile’.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

One of the world’s oldest shopping malls and a tribute to engineering knowhow, the Galleria is one of the finest iron-and-glass buildings in the world. There are plenty of designer shops in the four storey arcade, as well as the fabulous Seven Stars Galleria (yes, two more than five stars) hotel.

The Last Supper

Visit Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ at the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The painting took almost four years to complete with Da Vinci using a new medium. Unfortunately, it hasn’t survived as well as the ‘Crucifixion’ by Giovanni Donato da Montofano, on the opposite wall. An informative guided tour costs €8 (book in advance here) will explain the significance of the hands, and the scandalous story of how Christ’s feet were destroyed when a door was cut into the refectory wall back in 1652.

Museo del Novecento

The Museo del Novecento is one of the youngest museums in the city, with over 400 20th-century masterpieces. You’ll find works by Picasso, and members of Italy’s Futurist movement, including Giorgio Morandi. One-off exhibitions have included Fontana and Klein.

Milan Fashion

But mention Milan and the first thing most folk will think of is fashion. Shoppers can visit districts dedicated to luxury shopping. These include Brera, Duomo/corso Vittorio Emanuele II/Galleria/via Dante and the Vercelli/Bellfiore/Margherea districts. There’s also the Quadrilatero della Moda, positioned between via Montenapoleone, via Manzoni, via della Spiga and corso Venezia. You can even take a ‘Fashion History Tour’ with Zani Viaggi.

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