Discovering Milan I: Duomo Cathedral, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Ca’ Granda, Via Torino

Milan is a great metropolitan city situated in the north west of the italian peninsula; it is the economic capital of Italy and the most modern italian city; Milan is also the chief town of the Lombardy region. History, culture, tradition, design, fashion, food, restaurants, enterprises, universities and more…this is Milan. It’s time to discover one of the most vibrant city in Europe; Let’s go!!

The Economic capital of Italy

Piazza Duomo

Piazza Duomo is the heart of the city; construction work of the Duomo (the Cathedral) probably began in 1386. It was decided that the new church should be built in the area of the ancient basilicas of Santa Maria Maggiore and Santa Tecla, the remains of which _together with those of the Baptistery of San Giovanni alle Fonti_ are still visible in the Archaeological Area. The Cathedral is huge and beautiful and the square is the place where the people of the city (i milanesi) meet each other. Keep the Cathedral in front of you and on its left side, you can walk across Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and find a lot of stores. During Christmas holidays (and at the beginning of Dicember) there are markets and stalls all around the Cathedral and a big Christmas tree is set up in the middle of the square, right in front of the Duomo.

Piazza Duomo and the Cathedral

Museums, Palazzo Marino and Teatro alla Scala

There are two important museums very close to the Cathedral: one of this, is the Museo Palazzo Reale, situated on the right side of the Duomo (keep the Cathedral in front of you); the palace was the headquarters of the city government for centuries, but today is an important museum with a lot of arts expositions. The other museum is situated inside the gallery and we are talking about the Leonardo 3 Museo: il mondo di Leonardo; the museum is dedicated to the famous artist, scientist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci. Another important place to visit is Palazzo Marino; the palace is located in Piazza alla Scala and was built around 1557 and 1563, designed by an architect called Galeazzo Alessi. Today is the headquarters of the municipality of Milan but is also open for visitors. In front of Palazzo Marino, there is the famous teatro alla Scala (most commonly called “la Scala”); this is the main opera theatre of the city and one of the most prestigious in the world. The theatre hosted internationals orchestras, ballets and opera artists for almost 242 years.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The covered gallery is a famous shopping promenade and connects Piazza Duomo with Piazza alla Scala; here you can find a lot of luxury stores like Armani, Prada etc. There is also one of my favourite bookstore: la Feltrinelli; here I bought a lot of books, also in the original language, mostly for my university studies. Very close to the gallery, there is the famous “Terrazza Campari” where you can drink the famous aperitivo Campari in a beautiful terrace in front of the Cathedral. (PS. be sure to have a lot of money with you…a coffee in the gallery can costs almost 5 euros…or more. I tried. And I cried. XD).

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Piazza dei Mercanti, via Torino and Piazza Sant’Alessandro

Piazza dei Mercanti is a middle age square and it was created around XIII century; in the middle of the square there is a water well, built in the XVI century. This square was the centre of the “milanese” social life. Very close to Piazza dei Mercanti _leaving Piazza Duomo at your back_ you will reach Via Torino, the shopping street; all along the street, there are a lot of shops and stores, from the cheapest to the most expensive.

Piazza dei Mercanti (photo by:

Walking down via Torino, at some point you will cross a little alley called “via Lupetta”, located in the left side of the street; follow via Lupetta until you will reach Piazza Sant’Alessandro: this is a beautiful square with the church (and the old monastery) of Sant’Alessandro in Zebedia, built in the XVII century. A big part of the old monastery is now the “Department of Foreigners Languages and Literatures” of the Milan State University. ( I studied there 🙂 ). Inside the department, there are a lot of libraries with hundreds books written in different languages from every part of the world.

Curiosity: if you go down the stairs in the M3 underground (station Missori yellow line) _very close to Sant’Alessandro _ you can see some remains from Ancient Roman Empire.

Piazza and church of Sant’Alessandro (photo by:

Ca’ Granda, Milan State University

The Ca’ Granda building was built around 1456 from Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan. Originally was an hospital but today is the headquarters of the Milan State University (UniMi). Unfortunately, the building was destroyed during WWII, between 15 an 16 august 1943. The damages have been repaired by recovering the original materials; its reconstruction is today considered a masterpiece.

Ca’ Granda destroyed during WWII. (Photo

Santuario San Bernardino alle ossa

This church is extremely particular: it was built in the year 1268 and there is an ossuary inside; it is really a suggestive place and it has thousands of bones and skeletons. In 1145 this place was a cemetery area where to bury the dead of the nearby hospital (Ca’ Granda). After a few years, the space available proved insufficient and then in the year 1210, at the bottom of the cemetery, it was built a room to gather the bones exhumed from the cemetery itself. The entry is free but the ossuary is closed on Sunday.

San Bernardino alle ossa (photo from:

Well, dear traveller, it is all for today. See you at the next post.

it is always time to travel


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