Milan is the capital of Lombardia and best known as an economic and financial center. It’s the richest and most populous region of Italy and also the second largest in the country. Founded by the population of the Insubri in the 6th century BC, its original name was Medhelan, which means centre of perfection, then changed into Mediolanum and finally Milano. To me it’s a city full of charm, where the ancient and the modern perfectly coexist as you may say it also has a fair share of cultural and architectural attractions like Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Scala, Sforzesco Castle and many more.
I was in Milan last weekend when attending CEPIS Council Meeting and having my wife along, we had some time for exploring some of these attractions too. As always I love to share and suggest – to set the mood – that we start with Duomo di Milano, the magnificent Gothic Cathedral:
The Piazza del Duomo:
In 1859, when the cathedral was close to completion after a construction period of almost 500 years, the city of Milan decided it was time to create a large square at the foot of the cathedral. It launched a competition for the design which attracted 176 participants. The Italian architect Giuseppe Mengoni was selected as the winner.
He designed a wide open square flanked by grand buildings to offset the dominance of the enormous Duomo. At the same time he also designed a monumental glass-covered arcade (top right pic in the collage) to connect the new square with the just completed Piazza della Scala: the square in front of Milan’s most famous theatre; the Teatro alla Scala.
The Sforzesco Castle is one of Milan’s most important monuments. It long served as a symbol of power for local and foreign rulers. At the start of the early 20th century the castle was saved from demolition and now houses a number of civic museums.
In 1358 Galeazzo Il Visconti, the first duke of Milan, ordered the construction of a fortress. Completed in 1368, it had a basic layout with four walls, each 180 meters long (591 ft) and a square tower at each corner. His successors Gian Galeazzo and Filippo Maria expanded the fortress and converted it into a palatial residence. After Filippo Maria Visconti died without leaving an heir in 1447; the Milanese people proclaimed the Ambrosian Republic and razed the castle – seen as a symbol of the Visconti – to the ground.
World Wide Exhibition of 2015:
Due to its strong international and economic nature, Milan will be hosting the Expo 2015, a very important international event taking place every some years in the most important world capitals.
It’s already visible in the city (see tower in the left pic) and I told you the city is where the ancient and the modern perfectly coexist. A typical example is Piazza Mercanti, a picturesque square, just a stone’s throw away from the Duomo. During the Middle Age, this was the commercial and governmental center of Milan. Today it is not as hectic anymore though the intimate pedestrian square does seem to throw you back to the Middle Ages thanks to its historic architecture. I don’t have a photo of the Piazza, but Via Mercanti might give you an idea:
Navigli – Milan’s Venice:
I’ll end this little taste of what Milan has to offer with another Must Visit in Milan. You see, situated in a favorable area in north Italy, in the past Milan has been a city of waters, thanks to its numerous canals called Navigli, the majority of which is now covered. But if you walk along the banks of the few still open, in the area of Porta Ticinese, you will have the feeling of a little Venice. We had a guided tour there, full of impressions and photos – so much so I’ve made a whole post of it – to be seen here: Blogger tourist in Italy at Navigli in Milan.
So this is my second post from our stay in Milan, but stay tuned – there is one more to go as we had a gourmet adventure in a local restaurant with the Lombardian regional specialties!