Things to Do in Lombardy - page 2
Milan’s historic Ambrosiana Museum and Library (Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana) was founded in 1618 by Cardinal Federico Borromeo. The cardinal donated more than 30,000 books, 15,000 manuscripts, and 12,000 pieces of artwork by famous artists such as Caravaggio, Raphael, Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci.
Milan’s Fashion Quarter is home to a handful of luxury shopping streets including Via della Spiga. This is where locals come to buy their designer clothes from brands such as Roberto Cavalli, Hermes, Moschino, and Armani. The chic fashion street is also home to a number of upscale dining options, cocktail bars, and cafés.
Not all visits to Lake Como are about waterfront towns – a trip up into the hills over the lake to Brunate offers spectacular views. The small hilltop town overlooks not just Lake Como, but the town of Como itself. The two are roughly 1,600 feet apart, so while you won't be dipping your toes in the lake from Brunate, you'll be enjoying views that the people in Como can't see.
The Como-Brunate Funicular linking the towns was built in 1894, but you can keep going up even after you reach Brunate – climb the steps to the 1920s lighthouse for an even better view.
The Romanesque Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio (Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio) is dedicated to Milan's patron saint, St. Ambrose, who founded the church in the fourth century while bishop of Milan. The saint’s remains lay beneath the stunning ninth-century Golden Altar, a masterpiece of gold, gilded silver, precious stones, and enamel. The basilica’s unique architecture makes it a must-see.
The center of Milan was once crisscrossed with a series of interconnecting canals, called “navigli,” used to transport goods and people. Two still exist just south of the city center, and the surrounding Navigli District is one of Milan’s trendiest areas, full of galleries, cafés, restaurants, and clubs. It’s a hot spot worth a visit.
Milan is famous for its fashion and design, and the Franciacorta Outlet Village is one of the largest and most popular outlet centers outside Lombardy’s cosmopolitan capital. Browse Italian and international brands at the more than 70 retailers offering deep discounts off retail prices.
One of the newest areas of construction in Milan is north of the city center near the Garibaldi train station, including the futuristic Piazza Gae Aulenti. The piazza, which opened in 2012 and is named after the Italian architect who designed Paris’ Musee d’Orsay, is surrounded by three new towers, including one that has the distinction of being Italy's tallest building. The piazza is circular in shape, and elevated above the surrounding ground level, with walkways running around and across its central pool and dancing water fountain displays.
A footbridge connects the piazza to the trendy Corso Como and its many restaurants and bars, making it a popular meeting place for locals, as well as a location for photo shoots. Take a photo walking tour of Milan to expertly capture Piazza Gae Aulenti's reflective surfaces and bring home a beautiful souvenir—or opt to visit as part of a city highlights tour, including admission to Leonardo Da Vinci's 'Last Supper,' as well as the Duomo.
Via Monte Napoleone (sometimes written as Montenapoleone) is the most luxurious shopping street in the Italian fashion capital of Milan. It is lined with designer boutiques including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Valentino, and Prada as well as many jewelry shops. The decadent drag is located in the heart of Milan’s Fashion Quarter and is known as the most expensive street in Europe.
The largest outlet shopping center in Europe, the Serravalle Designer Outlet outside Milan has more than 200 designer shops. Many stores offer discounts of 30 to 70 percent off retail prices all year round on brands like Furla, Armani, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Salvatore Ferragamo, and many more.
Milan is known for its opera, fashion, and banking – not its ruins. And yet the city has Roman ruins – including the Columns of San Lorenzo (Colonne di San Lorenzo). These well-preserved ruins all date from the 2nd century, when they were part of a Roman building (experts aren't sure whether it was a bath house or a temple). They were likely moved to their current location in the 5th century.
The 16 columns line one side of a piazza in front of the fifth-century Basilica di San Lorenzo, one of Milan's oldest churches. They were brought to the piazza when the church was complete.
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10 Corso Como is one of Milan's trendiest addresses. Home to the Galleria Carla Sozzani art gallery, it also houses an ultra popular café, a fashion boutique, a roof garden, a restaurant, and a tiny hotel. If you want to see and be seen in Italy’s capital of chic, there is no better place.
Milan is known as Italy’s fashion capital, and there are several areas in the city known for shopping. One street with a particularly high concentration of clothing stores is Corso Buenos Aires.
The Corso Buenos Aires is a major thoroughfare in central Milan, running from Piazzale Loreto in northeast Milan toward the cathedral in the heart of the city. Closest to the Duomo, the street turns into Corso Venezia.
Unlike the cobblestone lanes of the Quadrilatero d’Oro shopping district, Corso Buenos Aires is a broad street that’s busy with traffic - but it’s also packed with shops. This street is said to have Europe’s densest population of clothing stores. These are primarily ready-to-wear instead of the high-end fashion on display in the Quadrilatero d’Oro.
While mainly known as a shopping destination, Corso Buenos Aires also has several hotel options and is not far from the main train station in the city, Milano Centrale. Where the street becomes Corso Venezia is also one corner of the large park that includes the Museo Civico and a planetarium.
La Triennale Museum (La Triennale di Milano) explores the history of Italian design, highlighting innovative works in furniture and industrial design, architecture, and decorative arts. Fittingly located in Milan (Italy’s design capital), the museum lies within the Palazzo dell’Arte—a venue originally built for the Triennale decorative arts show.
In Italian, the word "novecento" means "20th century,” and Milan's Museo del Novecento has an excellent collection of 20th century artwork.
The museum opened in 2010 in the Arengario Palace on Piazza del Duomo in central Milan, combining two extensive collections of modern and contemporary art. The current collection includes a large number of Italian artists, as well as international ones. Some of the noted artists whose work you can see at the Museo del Novecento include Modigliani, Picasso, Kandinsky, Mondrian, and Matisse.
The collection is displayed in chronological order, so you can watch art movements progress over time. The iconic painting by Pellizza da Volvedo of striking workers, "The Fourth Estate," is on display on the ground floor, which can be visited for free.
Milan's Ticinese district is in the southern part of the historic center, known for its shops and restaurants. It houses one of Milan's old city gates, originally built in the 16th century, while today's gate dates from the 19th century and marks the southern end of the Corso di PortaTicinese. This street is lined with shops, and – along with nearby Via Torino – is known particularly for its shoe shops.
The Ticinese area is historically working class, as is the nearby Navigli district, but both are becoming more upscale as hip cafes and restaurants move in. There are historic attractions here, including Milan's best-preserved Roman ruins, as well as a weekly antiques market.
On the shores of Lake Como overlooking the Valtellina and Valchiavenna mountains, Forte Montecchio Nord is Italy’s only intact fort dating from World War I. Modern history enthusiasts will enjoy learning about Italy’s role in the Great War by exploring the fort’s powder room, subterranean tunnels, barracks, and original Schneider guns.
Across the street from Leonardo da Vinci’s famous fresco of “The Last Supper” isLeonardo’s Vineyard (Vigna di Leonardo), the vineyard he was given by Milanese ruler, Ludovico Sforza, in 1495. The type of vines was identified during excavations in 2015, and the vineyard has been replanted with the same varietal Leonardo grew. The plot has been designed as it was in Leonardo’s time.
The house behind which the vineyard sits was not Leonardo’s, but he tended the vineyard himself. Visitors to the vineyard first get to see the beautifully-renovated Renaissance villa, Casa degli Atellani, and then a walk through the picturesque gardens and vineyard.
Tours of the house and vineyard are guided by a member of the staff, and every visitor receives an audio guide to help navigate through and learn about the seven distinct areas on the tour. For a special visit to this unique attraction, visitors can enjoy an evening tour with aperitivo in the vineyard or a combination ticket that includes “The Last Supper” fresco and the vineyard in one tour.
The Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology (Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci) features seven sections—one dedicated to the Renaissance genius, plus others covering transportation, energy, and communication. More than 10,000 objects are on display, including a historical aircraft and steam train.
A chapel made from some truly unusual materials, San Bernardino alle Ossa is decorated by more than 3,000 human bones, arranged in Rococò-style patterns on the walls, cornice, pillars, and doors. Also of note are a series of 16th-century paintings, a ceiling fresco, and baroque-style decorations lining the walls.
The Leonardo3 Museum is an interactive exhibition dedicated to Italy's greatest luminary: Leonardo da Vinci. The exhibit, known as The World of Leonardo, includes more than 200 interactive machines and working models based on Leonardo's designs and a digitized version of the entireCodex Atlanticus, containing the inventor’s notes and sketches.
While most palazzos are historic, Milan's Palazzo Lombardia is modern skyscraper. Completed in 2010, the building reigned as the tallest building in all of Italy at 529 feet (161 meters) tall for about a year until another Milan skyscraper was built in 2011.
Today, the Palazzo Lombardia serves as the headquarters for Lombardy's government. Even with that main administrative purpose, the ground level is open to the public with shops, restaurants, bars, and even an auditorium for performances.
One of Milan’s highest and most unique scenic overlooks, the Torre Branca is a 300-foot-high (91-meter-high) steel tower designed by Gio Ponti in 1933 and set in the city’s Sempione Park. Take the elevator that whisks visitors to the observation deck at the top, and enjoy a bird’s-eye view over the city to the Alpine peaks on the horizon.
The northern Italian lakes are popular destinations, beloved for their placid waters and mountain scenery. Among these, however, sleepy Lake Orta (Lago di Orta) is one of the least well known. Overshadowed by its famous neighbor, Lake Maggiore, and slightly farther from Milan, Lake Orta attracts visitors who want to get away from it all.
Today, Milan is part of a unified Italy – but centuries ago, it was the center of its own empire, and has a Royal Palace to prove it. Milan's Palazzo Reale sits to one side of the Piazza del Duomo, a U-shaped building with its own piazza in the center (called the Piazzetta Reale). The Dukes of Milan moved into the Royal Palace from the Castello Sforzesco in the early 16th century, though the building predates that move. Much of the exterior we see today dates from the 18th century.
Today, the Palazzo Reale houses a Palace Museum tracing the history of the building's use, the Great Museum of the Duomo of Milan, as well as regular exhibitions of contemporary art – including displays of work by Monet, Picasso, Klimt, Kandinsky, and more. The artwork on display changes on a regular basis, loaned from major museums worldwide.
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