With a 2009 population of 1,301,000 and located in the northern part of Italy, Milan has by far the largest metropolitan area in Italy. Milan is renowned for being the true fashion capital of the world, serving as headquarters for fashion houses such as Prada, Gucci, Versace, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and many more. Milan is also a major financial, industrial center that has become one of Europe’s richest cities.
Milan features many great sights and museums; chief among them is the majestic Duomo Cathedral, which is a massive Gothic structure that is second in size in Italy only to St. Peter’s, and is the fourth largest Cathedral in the world. This magnificent structure was started in the late 14th century and finally completed in the 19th. Contained within is the world’s largest collection of marble statues.
There are many fine museums in Milan – to view some great masterpieces be sure to visit the galleries at the Pinacoteca di Brera in the Brera Palace and at the Balgetti Valsecchi Museum. The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is the home of DaVinci’s most famous painting, The Last Supper, and if you want to see it you’ll have to book it four weeks in advance.
Milan is also home to one of the world’s most famous opera houses, the Teatro alla Scala, which was opened in 1778. The Scala Museum is annexed and contains many great pieces of art related to opera.
Other monuments not to miss include the lofty double arcade completed in 1877 called Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II, featuring a glass roof and central dome. Also be sure to visit the 15th century Sforza Castle which is now an art gallery that houses Michelangelo’s last sculpture.
There is so much heritage and culture in Milan that we could easily fill an entire book describing it all – the city is a fast-moving, ahead-of-the-curve metropolis that sets the pace not only in the fashion world but in many other areas as well.