Melania Guarda gives you her insider weekend getaway guide to Milan
Milan, the beating heart of Italy, is a city that effortlessly blends rich history, cutting-edge fashion, and culinary delights. For those fortunate enough to spend a weekend in this cultural mecca, an array of experiences awaits. From iconic landmarks and world-class museums to high-end shopping streets and delectable cuisine, Milan provides a perfect blend of old-world charm and modern sophistication. In my weekend getaway guide to Milan, you can delve into my curated itinerary to ensure you make the most of your weekend in this vibrant Italian metropolis.
Day 1: Cultural Immersion
Kick off your weekend getaway guide to Milan adventure by immersing yourself in the grandeur of the Cathedral of Milan, famously known as the Duomo. The sheer magnificence of its Gothic architecture is awe-inspiring. Consider taking an elevator to the rooftop for an unparalleled panoramic view of the city, where you can appreciate the intricate details of this architectural marvel up close. Adjacent to the Duomo is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, an opulent shopping gallery that not only houses some of the world’s most prestigious brands but is also an architectural gem in its own right.
Stroll through the galleries, stopping for a coffee at Savini or Marchesi, for a break like a true Milanese. Then continue towards Piazza della Scala, where the most famous opera house in the world is located. First, however, a stop is obligatory: about halfway you will come across a group of people who, with their heel resting on the coat of arms of a bull (symbol of the city of Turin), are trying their hand at funny turns. In fact, tradition has it that making a full turn by trampling on the “attributes” of the animal with the right foot brings good luck.
After this superstitious ritual you will be able to exit the Gallery, where the Teatro alla Scala will open up before you in all its majesty: a wonderful neoclassical style building designed by Giuseppe Piermarini and inaugurated in 1778.
For a taste of Milanese charm, venture to the Brera district for lunch. This area exudes a bohemian atmosphere with its quaint streets and eclectic mix of shops. Choose a traditional Italian trattoria and indulge in local delicacies like risotto alla milanese, a saffron-infused rice dish that epitomizes Northern Italian cuisine. Following your culinary journey, explore the Brera Art Gallery, a haven for art enthusiasts housing an impressive collection of Italian Renaissance art, including masterpieces by Caravaggio and Raphael.
Going towards Piazza Cadorna and then taking Corso Magenta you will find yourself in front of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. This building is both a basilica and a convent and belongs to the Dominican Order. The refectory of the convent, which is located on the south side, houses Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper, the famous fresco better known as the Last Supper. A stop here is a must, but we advise anyone who wants to visit to book well in advance to avoid the endless queues at the entrance.
As the sun sets, set your sights on the historic Navigli district. This canal-lined neighborhood, with its cobblestone streets and vibrant atmosphere, comes alive in the evening. Partake in the Milanese tradition of aperitivo at one of the many trendy bars, where pre-dinner drinks are accompanied by a tempting selection of light snacks. The Navigli district is also renowned for its bustling nightlife, so consider extending your evening by exploring the local bars for an authentic taste of Milan’s social scene. Day one of your your weekend getaway guide to Milan done with lots of memories to dream about.
Day 2: Fashion and Flair
Dedicate your second day of your weekend getaway guide to Milan to exploring Milan’s globally renowned fashion scene. Begin your morning at the Quadrilatero della Moda, the Fashion Quadrangle, encompassing the most prestigious shopping streets: Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga, Via Manzoni, and Corso Venezia. Window shop or indulge in retail therapy at iconic fashion houses like Prada, Gucci, and Versace. The Quadrilatero della Moda is a fashionista’s paradise, where style and luxury converge in a symphony of high-end boutiques. Stop for breakfast at the Caruso Nuovo Bistrot, a restaurant inside the historic Grand Hotel et de Milan.
In addition to the famous Quadrilatero della Moda in Milan, where the most important fashion shops display their shop windows, there is also the Quadrilatero del Silenzio, a place to reflect and enjoy nature, the architectural beauty and the magic of some glimpses of Milan unknown to most.
They range from the Public Gardens of Palestro, famous for their paths and artificial views, such as caves and lakes, to the Garden of Villa Reale, now the Gallery of Modern Art. Attention: inside the wonderful garden of the villa an old law still in force today allows entry only to adults accompanied by children under 12 years old!
For a culinary experience that marries traditional Milanese flavors with modern flair, head to the trendy Porta Nuova district. This area, known for its contemporary architecture and upscale dining options, offers a perfect setting for a leisurely lunch. Choose a chic restaurant and savor innovative dishes crafted by some of the city’s top chefs. Continuing for a couple of kilometers you finally reach the very modern Gae Aulenti square. Here you can breathe a completely different atmosphere: with its futuristic buildings and trendy shops, it is the symbol of the Milan of the future.
Post-lunch, feed your artistic soul with a visit to the Fondazione Prada. Housed in a former gin distillery, this avant-garde museum showcases a captivating mix of contemporary and modern art in a setting that is a work of art in itself.
Wrap up this weekend getaway guide to Milan by delving into Milan’s history at the Sforza Castle. This medieval fortress, transformed into a cultural hub, houses museums and art collections spanning centuries. After exploring the castle, take a leisurely stroll through Parco Sempione, the adjacent park, where you can unwind and reflect on the historical richness of the city.
For dinner, return to the lively Brera district, choosing a trendy restaurant that embodies the modern Milanese vibe. Indulge in the flavors of northern Italian cuisine, savoring each bite as you toast to a weekend well-spent in this dynamic city. Conclude your evening with a visit to one of Milan’s renowned gelaterias, where you can treat yourself to a scoop of authentic Italian gelato.
My weekend getaway guide to Milan is a captivating journey through history, art, fashion, and gastronomy. Whether you’re exploring iconic landmarks, indulging in high-end shopping, or savoring exquisite Italian dishes, Milan offers a perfect blend of sophistication and cultural richness.
This curated itinerary is designed to help you make the most of your weekend getaway guide to Milan leaving you with lasting memories of Milan’s timeless charm. From the awe-inspiring Duomo to the high-end boutiques of the Fashion Quadrangle and the avant-garde Fondazione Prada, each moment in Milan is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s unique allure.
Images (C) Goldmund100 (Porta Nuova) and YesMilano.
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For more details on the suggestions Melania has offered in her weekend getaway guide to Milan and general tourism in Milan please visit Yes Milano
Grand Hotel et de Milan: Grand Hotel in the centre of the city, near Teatro alla Scala
Straf: minimalism hotel in Galleria