Milan was founded by the Gauls in the early 4th century B.C. and grew rapidly following the Roman conquest in 222 B.C. By 1277, Archbishop Otto Visconti imposed hegemony over the city and 130 years of Visconti rule ensued. Gian Visconti (1351-1402) was a generous patron of the arts and initiated the construction of the magnificent Duomo.
Milan is similar to New York because it is the nucleus of finance, business and fashion. Many Italian multinational corporations are headquartered in Milan. The location contributes to the historic significance of trade with countries north of the Alps.
Lombardy’s capital is set at the foot of the Alps and serves as the business capital of Italy. Milan is also the Italian hub of fashion. Designer luminaries grace the catwalks of Milan. The famous monument by Claes Oldenburg’s is a brightly colored “Needle, Thread, and Knots” and symbolizes Milan’s fashion prowess. This interesting sculpture is in Piazzale Cadorna in front of the train station. The city is an upscale shopping mecca.
Visit the Pinocoteca at the Brera Museum and get an audio guide. The museum was founded in 1799 and was transformed into a Napoleonic museum in 1809. The Napoleon I statue by Canova stands in the center of the courtyard. The museum is nestled in a 17th century palace that was originally a Jesuit college. Most of the artwork in the Brera is from Lombardy and the Venato. The building is also the home of the Accademia di Belle Arti and the Brera Library. Much of the museum had to be rebuilt because it was devastated by World War II bombs. Magnificent works of art by Bellini, Montegna, Caravaggio and Raphael will tantalize your visual senses.
Visit the magnificent Duomo of Milan. Climb to the top of the majestic 14th century Duomo. It is an outstanding example of flamboyant gothic architecture and measures 479 feet long by 284 feet wide. A golden Madonna surmounts the highest spire that was cast in copper by Giuseppe Bibi in 1774. The tomb of San Carlo Borromeo is in the crypt; he was the cardinal of Milan. The central tower is 354 feet high and offers a breathtaking view of Milan. The mountains are visible on a clear day.
After you climb to the top of the Duomo, relax at a table in the Piazza del Duomo. It is a great place for people-watching and admiring the 135 spires and elaborate statues that adorn the façade of the magnificent Gothic Cathedral. At one of the local restaurants, savor your Risotto alla Milanese, Ossobucco or breaded Milanese veal cutlet as you gaze at the stylish fashionistas in the square.
Conclude your afternoon with a shopping spree at Milan’s famous glass-enclosed shopping Galleria. Visit the elegant Prada boutique www.prada.com or buy a sophisticated Borsalino hat www.borsalino.com in their historic shop. Before you leave the Galleria, it is customary to step on the genitals of the mosaic “Taurus the Bull” on the floor of the Galleria for good luck. Set your sites on La Terrazza on Via Palestro to enjoy an evening of fine food and wine overlooking the public gardens. Try some regional specialties like Tortelli di Zucca, Pizzaccheri alla Valtellinese or Cottoletta alla Milanese.
Plan your trip to the refectory of the convent of the gothic church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. It is the home of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” This fresco was painted between 1495 and 1497. The church is an outstanding example of Italian Renaissance architecture crowned by Donato Bramante’s elegant dome. The restoration of the fresco was completed during the 500 year anniversary of Leonardo’s completion of the masterpiece. Reserve tickets well in advance prior to your departure. To learn more about Milan and Northern Italy, read www.vino-con-vista.com Travel Guides and