Underrated Milan: Must See Sites, Hidden Gems, and Leonardo da Vinci
Updated: Aug 10
Here's my guide to the must see sites and unusual things to do in stylish Milan Italy. Milan is an amazing destination in northern Italy. It's a vibrant and exciting modern city, the finance and fashion capitol of Italy.
Milan is not "an industrial city," as the uninitiated claim. Milan has personality, combining old world charm and modern flair in compelling fashion. You can't help but be dazzled by Milan's architecture, historic sites, iconic art, and culinary specialities.
Milan lies in the Lombardy region. While most people are familiar with the typical southern Italian effervescence, the cities closer to Switzerland have a unique culture. Like New York City or London, Milan is a fast-paced metropolis. It's fairly organized and not nearly as chaotic as Rome.
Most visitors rush through underrated Milan and only see sites in the Piazza del Duomo. But if your schedule permits or you're on an extended weekend getaway, there's plenty of amazing things to do in Milan. You could keep busy for days, happily imbibing apertivos, gelato, and Milanese risotto along the way.
Milan Travel Guide: What To See and Do In Underrated City of Milan Italy
There are so many things to discover in Milano. If you think Milan is underrated, you're absolutely right. What other Italian city combine magnificent skyscrapers with sublime historic sites?
Here are the highlights of Milan that you can cover in a few days, including must see Milanese landmarks, museums, churches, etc. Or, you can use this list to tailor a shorter Milan itinerary to your specific interests.
1. Duomo: What To See and How To Get Tickets
The Duomo is the nickname for Milan Cathedral, a world renowned edifice. Built over 600 years beginning in 1368, the Duomo is Milan's flamboyant Gothic masterpiece with 135 marble spires. It's the fourth largest church in the Europe, second in size in Italy only to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Begun in 1386, the cathedral was not complete even at its consecration in 1572. It was constructed with a white-pink marble from the Lake Maggiore region. The city even built canals to transport the marble to the Duomo site.
Cleaned in 2002, the stunning triangular facade was added only in the Napoleonic period. There's a golden Madonna statue on the tip top. By law since 1930, no building can be taller than the symbol of Milan.
Five portals beckon you inside. The Duomo interior seems cavernous. There's plenty to admire -- ornate statues, paintings, and the sarcophagi of famous Milanese citizens.
In the transept, you'll find the rather ghoulish statue of St. Bartholomew Skinned by Marco d'Agrate, a Leonardo student. Batholomew was the saint who was skinned alive. He carries his skin like a drape.
The Duomo's truly spectacular and unmissable feature is its rooftop terrace. It can be reached either via a staircase or an elevator. But even after the elevator, you've got to plod up some narrow steep steps. And the elevator is one way. You have to hoof it back down.
From the rooftop, you have an excellent view of the details of the intricate stonemasonry, especially the fanciful gargoyles that serve as drains You can see the panorama of the entire city before you. It's especially nice at sunset.
When it comes to buying your tickets you have a lot of options, depending on your interests and budget. You can buy individual tickets to each site or combined tickets with a fast track option. The archaeological area and crypt of the Duomo are free to visit. You just need a Duomo ticket. The prices are as follows:
Only the Cathedral: € 3 (audio guide € 6)
Only the Duomo Museum € 3
Rooftop via stairs: € 10
Rooftop via lift: € 14
Rooftop Fast track by lift: € 23
Cathedral and rooftop by lift: € 17 (entrance on the north side of the Duomo)
Cathedral and rooftop by stairs: € 13
All inclusive 3 day fast track for all Duomo sites: € 25