Milan is the undisputed capital of International Fashion, but beyond the branded boutiques, showrooms and shopping streets crowded with tourists and trendsetters from all over the world, this city really has a lot to offer.
Whether you're looking for art, culture, music, design or sport, Milan has it all, featured in exhibitions and high profile events all year round.
The Hotel Napoleon Milano, just a stone's throw from the city's fashion streets and historic centre, offers the ideal base for exploring the most extravagant and hidden parts of the city.
Truly the symbol of Milan, the Duomo cathedral is dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente, one of Europe's largest churches and the highest example of Gothic architecture in Italy. Spectacularly striking, the cathedral's white marble body spreads over 157 metres and reaches 108 metres in height, culminating in the famous golden Madonnina statue. Inside, the soft light penetrates through the beautiful multicoloured glass windows, showcasing the great richness of fine materials and works of art created over the course of three centuries. The cathedral is home to some 3400 statues.
TEATRO DELLA SCALA
The Teatro della Scala, built in 1776 for the Empress Maria Teresa of Austria, is one of the most famous opera houses in the world. Over the years, some of Italy's finest composers have appeared on the Teatro della Scala's stage, such as Rossini, Bellini and Giuseppe Verdi, who delivered an outstanding performance of Nabucco here in 1842. The theatre has welcomed a whole host of great names, from the unforgettable voices of Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi and Luciano Pavarotti, to directors Luchino Visconti and Franco Zeffirelli and ballet dancers Rudolf Nureyev, Carla Fracci and Roberto Bolle. More recently, renowned director Riccardo Muti has also graced the Teatro with his talent. The Museum of Theatre is also well worth a visit, home to precious instruments, pottery and many rooms dedicated to key names on the Milan music scene.
GALLERIA VITTORIO EMANUELE II
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a stunning covered arcade which links Piazza Duomo and Piazza della Scala, built in 1865 by Giuseppe Mengoni. Its eclectic style with lunettes, caryatids and pilasters, and the bright glass windows of the dome represent the real symbols of Milan’s upper class. Milan social and high fashion hub, the Galleria is home to boutiques, cafés and stylish restaurants.
PINACOTECA DI BRERA
The Pinacoteca di Brera is an art gallery, housed in a traditional eighteenth-century building which today is home to the Academy of Fine Arts. It boasts an extraordinary collection of works by international artists such as Rubens, Joardens, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Correggio, Tiepolo, Canaletto and Fattori. There are also many creations by early twentieth century Italian artists, from Boccioni to Braque, Carrà, De Pisis, Marino Marini, Modigliani and Morandi. Among the paintings on display, you'll see the famous Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael, Bellini’s Madonna and Child and Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus.
You simply can't visit Milan without coming to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper, one of the greatest works of art of all time. The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, a wonderful Renaissance building located close to the Cenacolo, also is well worth a visit.
Once the residence of the noble Milanese Sforza family, the Castello Sforzesco is now an important cultural centre which hosts regular exhibitions and events. Inside, the castle's multiple museums house ancient and modern works. On the ground floor, in the Museum of Ancient Art, the Rondanini Pietà, Michelangelo’s last unfinished masterpiece, is permanently on display. On the first floor you'll find a collection of furniture and the Castle's Art Gallery. And topping it all off, a collection of applied art, a museum of musical instruments, the Museum of Prehistory and Protohistory, and the Egyptian Museum.
The centre of Milan is a shoppers' paradise, and a point of reference for the latest high fashion trends in every season. Corso Buenos Aires, just 100 metres from the Hotel Napoleon, is home to major clothing brands, and accessory and jewellery shops for every price range. The biggest international fashion brands compete for a spot here, especially on Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga. For more casual, modern style, take a trip to Corso Vittorio Emanuele.
Milan has plenty to offer in terms of nightlife, from bars and restaurants to clubs, for entertainment guaranteed. If you're hoping to bump into a few celebs or footballers, then why not try Giannino o El Gaucho? This historic restaurant is owned by Inter captain Javier Zanetti. Clubs on offer include Ubi Maior, a favourite of Italian gossip guru Alfonso Signorini, and See You At 1, a cool New York style lounge. If you love live music, then don't miss Alcatraz, which hosts high-end concerts all year round, and for those who like to dance, there's the Gattopardo Cafè, located in a deconsecrated church, or the famous Magazzini Generali. Milan is also home to Italy's most famous Jazz Club, the Blue Note, where renowned artists such as The Blues Brothers, Stefano Bollani, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Pino Daniele and Enrico Rava have all performed.