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G.P.S.: My Fifteen Favorite Spots in Milan

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Scranton chapter.

Ciao mi amici! Having visited Milan twice in the past, and now that I am living here for study abroad, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know the city very well and thought I would share some of my favorite spots in Milan. Milan is a more “modern” city, having skyscrapers as well as traditional style buildings. It’s a beautiful city full of good food, life, culture, and fashion! Overall there are many amazing neighborhoods in of themselves to visit, such as Chinatown, where you can get great sushi or Chinese food, Brera, which is an artsy upscale area, and Navigli, an area filled with canals perfect for a lunch or late night drink The area around the Duomo is great for shopping, and if you want to feel ritzy, some upscale places to eat. Of course, there is the famous Aperitivo, or the five o’clock Aperol spritz and snack that you have to do if you visit Milan, and plenty of gelato, pizza, pasta, and cannolis to try. However, I’m going to focus on the actual things to do and see here in Milan. So focusing on actual things to see or do, here are my top fifteen favorite attractions:

15. San Bernardino alle Ossa

Time: One hour

Cost: Free

The San Bernardino alle Ossa Church is not only a pretty church, but also houses a fascinating- albeit morbid- chapel decorated with plague victims from the Middle Ages. In all of my travels, I have never seen anything like it before!

14. Indro Montanelli Gardens

Time: One hour

Cost: Free

The Indro Montanelli Gardens were the first public park in Milan and are home not only to beautiful nature and parks, but also to the Natural History Museum, a planetarium, and the stunning Palazzo Dugnani.

13. Villa Necchi Campiglio

Time: One hour or more

Cost: Free to look at the gardens, but the inside of the Villa is ticketed

The Villa Necchi Campiglio is famed because it was designed by famed architect Piero Portaluppi, at the bequest of the wealthy Necchi Campiglio family. It is a beautiful villa surrounded by a garden, swimming pool, and tennis court. You can sip a coffee and feel very bougie or go into the villa to see its magnificent halls.

12. Porta Garibaldi and Porta Nuova

Time: 1 hour

Cost: Free

Porta Nuova, or “the new port,” is where you will find one of the six original city gates, however, Porta Garibaldi, which is right next to it, brings a modern element to this historic

monument. Porta Garibaldi is the modern part of the city, and its skyscrapers can be seen from all over Milan. It is a modern area, and indeed the heart of business in Milan, that leads into a beautiful park. There is an impactful mural on the nearby buildings advocating for peace, and it also provides a spectacular view of Il Bosco, two apartment buildings right next to the skyscrapers covered in trees and vines. You can relax in the park or grab a coffee at one of the fashionable shops beneath the center of Milan’s commerce.

11. Il Cavallo

Time: Less than an hour

Cost: Free

Il Cavolo, or “The Horse,” is a giant bronze horse statue designed by Leonardo da Vinci at the bequest of the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro, in 1482, but da Vinci never completed it. It took many years to complete the statue, but it was actually two Americans who made it happen. Charles Dent, an American art collector and pilot, raised money to have the horse constructed, but he died before its construction. Eventually, Frederik Meijer, owner of a Michigan supermarket chain, took up Dent’s mantle, and American sculptor Nina Akamu brought it to life. It is actually why a miniaturized version is kept in Allentown, PA! America donated the statue to the city of Milan, placing it outside of their racetrack! If you visit, you will not only be able to peep at the racetrack, but the famous San Siro Stadio, or one of the largest “football” stadiums in Milan. The horse itself is a marvel to behold, and I, at five feet, look like an ant. It is incredible to see, as not only is it massive, but one of the horse’s legs is off the ground, so it is a seat of engineering that it doesn’t topple over!

10. Cimitero Monumentale

Time: 1 hour or less

Cost: Free

Cimitero Monumentale, or the “Monumental Cemetery,” is one of the biggest and oldest cemeteries in Milan. Located just next to Chinatown, it is perfect for a post-lunch or even just an afternoon stroll. Many of the founders of Milan are buried here, and because they are usually from very wealthy families, the tombs are incredible works of art. There is also a monument to the 800 Milanese who were sent to concentration camps by the Nazis. Overall, even just to see its entrance, a beautiful white palatial building, makes it worth a visit!

9. Pinacoteca Ambrosiana

Time: 1-2 hours

Cost: Free

The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is a historic library and art gallery. It features over 12,000 drawings and 30,000 manuscripts, many of them ancient. There is work by Caravaggio, Raphael, and likely of most interest, the twelve manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci, including the Codex Atlanticus.

8. The Church of St. Augustine Time: Less than an hour

Cost: Free

The Church of Saint Augustine is home not only to a stunning church featuring some of the most stunning gold statues and frescoes, but also the body of former Milanese Bishop, Saint Ambrose.

It is a great spot to check out, and you can take in the area just steps away from The University Cattolica campus!

7. Pinacoteca di Brera

Time: 2-3 hours

Cost: 15 Euro

Pinacoteca di Brera is a beautiful art gallery containing many famous pieces of artwork. As previously mentioned, the museum is situated in the middle of the arts district, so even visiting the museum is a treat! The museum features an array of stunning artwork including, “The Kiss” by Francesco Hayes, “The Marriage of The Virgin” by Raphael, and “Supper at Emmaus” by Caravaggio. This museum allows you to admire some of the best art Italy has to offer!

6. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Time: One Half four

Cost: Free

Located in the heart of Milan, The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a beautiful and expensive shopping plaza. Within the Galleria’s beautiful walls and glass dome, a famous attraction sure to draw a crowd is a marker where people place their foot on and spin around three times. It’s almost like the Trevi fountain of Milan!

5. Parco Sempione

Time: Varied

Cost: Varied

While this could technically be three different attractions Parco Sempione is home to the Arco di Pace (The Arch of Peace), gardens, and Sforzesco Castle. The Arch of Peace was initially meant to be a temporary display but was made permanent (fun fact, when they did, they flipped the horses’ behinds to face France). It is Milan’s version of the Arc De Triomphe, and after visiting it, you can stroll through the park to the Sforzesco Castle, which is a massive fortress-like castle that was home to many rules of Milan, most prominently the Sforza family. Today, it is a massive museum you could spend half a day in, looking at art, statues, and antique furniture. If you’d rather skip this museum for time, you can picnic in the park!

4. La Scala

Time 1-2 hours

Cost: 18 Euro

La Scala is one of the most famed opera houses in the world. You are able to tour the grand opera house and see the boxes with red-lined velvet chairs. A normal ticket has access to the museum and a viewpoint to see the boxes and look into a theater. A tour, however, will allow you into the theater and access beneath it to see where some of the steps are kept. I recommend going during the afternoon, as both times when I have visited I was able to watch them shift the set from a morning rehearsal for an opera to that of a ballet, and on another occasion, I was able to watch them teching an opera! After looking at the theater, you can admire portraits and busts of opera singers, costumes, and jewelry used in its productions in the opera house’s museum!

3. The Last supper

Time: 1-2 hours

Cost: 3 Euro for students

One often forgotten gem of Milan is Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” It is difficult to snag tickets, but if you can, this is not to be missed! Called the Cenacolo Vinciano, this fresco is a testament to art, and was protected during World War II from bombs because of how special and culturally significant Da Vinci’s work remains. However, make sure you turn around after looking at “The Last Supper,” as you will be treated to a painting just as beautiful, “The Crucifixion” by Donato Montorfano! Once you exit the monastery, check out Santa Maria delle Grazie, a beautiful Church that you should see!

2. Duomo

Time 2-3 hours

Cost: 22 Euro the all-inclusive for students

The Duomo with its glittering white facade is THE most famous attraction in Milan, and can be found decorating postcards, bags, and even t-shirts! It’s the symbol of Milan for a good reason! Not only is it stunning from the outside, but it’s also an incredible example of Gothic architecture. Inside you will find detailed statues, glass windows depicting scenes from the Bible, and two particularly large windows depicting the entirety of the New and Old Testament, respectively. If you go up to the roof (which is what drives the price of this attraction up), you will get to see the spirals up close, as well as a spectacular view of The Galleria.. Regardless of whether or not you visit the rooftop, your ticket provides you entrance to the Duomo Museum, located in a palace just across the square. It’s worth a quick visit, to see statues from the Duomo, a Church inside the palace, and religious relics.

1. San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore

Time: Less than an hour

Cost: Free to Enter

When I first visited this church in 2022, I cried. It’s only now started to become popular, but I would consider it the most beautiful place in all of Milan, and certainly one of my favorite churches in all of Italy. The former monastery for cloistered nuns is covered in detailed paintwork. If you look closely, the various artists even painted realistic-looking marble to adorn the columns holding the paintings. Next door is an archeological museum you can walk through as well! This is my favorite thing to see, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to visit Milan. In fact, if you are short on time, skip the Duomo and see this church!

I hope you somehow find yourself in this incredible city that I have fallen in love with! If you ever visit, check out some, or if you can all, the attractions on this list! For now, I’ll be out taking in some of these sights again! Ciao for now!

Gabriella Palmer is an English and Theater major with a minor in Philosophy and a Legal Studies Concentration at the University of Scranton. In her free time, you will likely find Gabriella discussing obscure history, mock trial, or the latest show opening on Broadway. She is an avid traveler, and her favorite activities include acting, singing, and of course, writing.