Milan, the fashion capital is a vibrant city with extravagant people, the city of music and art. It is modern but it is also a city of history and a family-friendly place. Visitors can enjoy the exciting nightlife, but they can also find quiet hidden places to refresh and contemplate.
PLACES TO VISIT
Piazza del Duomo, a spacious cobbled square in the heart of Milan, is a home to Duomo di Milano, Galleria Vittoro Emanuele II mall, Museo del Novecento and Palazzo Reale and lively cafes.
Duomo di Milano is the immense Gothic cathedral dedicated to the Nativity of St Mary and the seat of the Archbishop of Milan. Duomo is among the five largest Christian churches in the world and has more statues than any other building in the world. Thousands of workers built this unbelievable structure for over 600 years. Near the main entrance, there is a sundial on the floor. Set your watch by it, it is accurate.
The classy shopping mall of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (built in 1877) on Piazza del Duomo is shopping heaven with the luxurious boutiques. The two arcades structure covered by a glass and iron dome houses famous brands like Prada, Gucci, Luis Vuitton and other posh shops and elegant restaurants but also a McDonald’s. Step for good luck at the central mosaic, a fabulous piece of art.
Close to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, you will see Teatro alla Scala in front of you, a grand opera house for Italian classics. The 18th-century theatre building founded by Empress Maria Teresa of Austria isn’t as extravagant on the outside, so visitors should enter the impressive space inside, famous for opera and ballets, with a museum and music library. This is a magnificent place where the greatest composers and performers played, including Rossini, Verdi, Puccini, Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, to mention just a few.
The 15th-century Sforza Castle built by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan is an astonishing construction with several specialised museums that shelter remnants of the city’s past. Art lovers should not miss it. Several greatest artists including Donato Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci decorated it. The glorious castle faces the city with Torre del Filarete, an outstanding entrance tower and several other keep-towers. Visitors can enjoy the regal courtyards, the Corte grande, the Roccheta and the Corte Ducale. Inside, they will be able to admire Michelangelo’s Pieta Rondanini and Sala delle Asse and frescoes designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Both young and old people love spending time here today.
Visitors should not miss Santa Maria delle Grazie, a church and Dominican convent, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, especially the mural of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.
MILAN FOR FAMILIES
If you are considering traveling to Milan with your kids, don’t get mislead by Milan’s fashion city character. Milan is much more than that. This beautiful city has more than luxurious shops to offer to travelers.
The Duomo is not just a magnificent cathedral that parents like to visit. Teenagers will probably like to take selfies in front of it. For younger kids, the Duomo can become an adventurous place – take them to the roof by lifts and stairs and have the catching view of Milan.
Castello Sforzesco is a fairy-tale ground for your kids. They can wander around a large courtyard and discover towers and gardens. The castle is also a place to learn about art and history – there is the library, several museums and galleries with important pieces of Renaissance artworks.
Some places are actually designed for kids. Visit Leolandia Park, a spacious amusement park on a huge green space where kids can enjoy numerous rides, meet their favourite TV and cartoon characters and get a ride on Thomas the Train. You can also visit Minitalia and walk through the park with miniatures of famous landmarks in Italy. It is around 45-minute drive from central Milan, but it is worth it as both small kids, teenagers and their parents can have fun.
You can also visit Aquatica Waterpark, a half-hour drive from the Milan centre. Take your children under a metre tall for free and enjoy different thrilling slides, a lagoon and kid’s park. Although not very large, the park is fun for the whole family.
People think children are bored at museums. No, if it is Milan Natural History Museum, with T-Rex skeleton and other true size dinosaur fossils models and life-size dioramas with diverse animals in their habitats from all around the world.
MUBA Children’s Museum is another one that children will enjoy. Museo dei Bambini is a great place with educators where children can learn through different activities and workshops including an interactive exhibition of light and colours which even toddlers will enjoy.
Leonardo da Vinci National Science Museum is another place for children to learn while having fun. There are numerous interactive and educational exhibits like 3D da Vinci’s inventions, gliders and others. Visitors can enjoy the world of physics and astronomy and a life-size submarine.
Galleries can also be fun for kids, so don’t miss Milan’s Galleria beside the Duomo. Parents will admire the stylish space, but kids will have fun doing what many do: they will put their heel on the hole in the coat of arms with an image of a bull and twirl around with their eyes closed. This is believed to bring fortune, but the interesting fact is that the hole is the bull’s missing testicles.
In the largest Italian planetarium, Milan Planetarium or Ulrico Hoepli Civic Planetarium kids will learn about stars, planets, the solar system and other things. Parents will probably enjoy the architecture of the building and the interiors designed in the 1930s.
Kids will also have a good time at Milan Civic Aquarium exploring containers with fish, starfish and sturgeon. It is not a large place – a nice Renaissance building, but still worth visiting. It is free for small children.
When both you and your children get tired, Parco Sempione is an excellent place to rest. It is easily reached, just adjoining the Sforza castle. Kids will enjoy the lawns and playgrounds, the lake with ducks and turtles while parents can have rest.
Take your kids to San Siro Stadium if they are fond of soccer and visit Milan and Inter’s stadium, changing rooms and the Soccer Museum.
MUSEUMS & GALLERIES IN MILAN
There are numerous museums and galleries in Milan. Depending on your time and preferences, you can choose among the following: Museo Teatrale alla Scala, Pinacoteca di Brera, Fondazione Prada, Museo del Novecento, MUDEC, Museo nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia ‘Leonardo da Vinci’, Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano, Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano, Villa Necchi Campiglio and more.
Visit Giardini Della Guastalla, once a site of a College and now a peaceful and relaxing place which still has some aristocratic features of the past. Today, workers having their lunch are the common sight.
Villa Invernizzi can be your choice with spacious garden and a family of pink flamingoes. It is elegant and quiet, but not open to the public. Visitors can take a closer look through the iron gate.
Casa Museo Boschi Di Stefano is a home museum with a fine collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings and furniture. It used to be private property, but today it is open to the public.
Vicolo Dei Lavandai, former washing service street is a part of the Milan history different from glorious places we usually visit.
VIA LINCOLN, not far from the city centre used to be a garden city project, and now it is an area of colorful houses and a lot of garden plants.
There are family-friendly hotels and apartments in Milan. You can save with different deals that the hotels offer and still have a great place to stay.
WHAT TO EAT
To eat like locals in Milan means to try Polenta (made with boiled cornmeal), Risotto Alla Milanese. Ossobuco (veal with onions, carrots, celery, white wine and broth), Piadina (a thin Italian flatbread), Cotoletta alla Milanese (a breaded veal cutlet), Panettone (Christmas fruitcake), Minestrone, Cassoeula (a warming pork and cabbage stew), Gorgonzola (blue cheese), Trippa alla Milanese (soup made of tripe, beans, a variety of vegetables, broth) and of course Pizza.
· If you order an espresso, be ready to get a very small cup, so order a latte macchiato.
· Take an umbrella with you, it often rains.
· Locals don’t speak much English, take an Italian dictionary with you.
· Don’t be surprised at food pedals for water faucets.
TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Milan is from April to May and September to October. The weather is pleasant and you will avoid the typical tourist peak of the summer and the winter fogs.
Although Milan is associated with fashion an extravagance, it is a great family vacation destination. Kids will have fun and learn about history, art and many other things at the same time. Parents will enjoy the architecture, art, excellent food and extravagant vines.