If we were to quiz people on where best to soak up the culture of Italy, they would almost certainly all return with answers of Rome, Florence and Venice. Many of these same people would be surprised to learn that Milan’s cultural offerings equal those of its fellow Italian cities. Often associated purely with fashion, Milan is the capital of the catwalk but is also rich with cultural heritage, boasting well-stocked art galleries, superb museums, grand theatre venues and stunning architecture. Rent a car in Milan with easyCar and reconsider your views on the culture of this great city.
A visit to Milan would not be complete without exploring its fashion culture. The Triennale Museum is a temple to design that hosts fashion events and film screenings, alongside its exhibitions on subjects as diverse as architecture and furniture. Milan also is home to the largest science and technology museum in Italy. Named after Leonardo da Vinci, the museum houses over a hundred models by the great man, along with a number of great transport exhibits, including steam trains, aeroplanes, submarines and the bridge of an ocean liner. If you are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary then Castello Sforzesco is the museum for you. Part of a gorgeous castle and with a wonderful quiet setting, this museum has a history of its own along with a veritable rabbit warren of exhibits!
The Theatre and Opera
Milan certainly doesn’t lack theatres with Piccolo Teatro, Teatro degli Arcimboldi, Teatro Dal Verme, Teatro Lirico just to name a few. The jewel in the city’s crown, however is the Teatro alla Scala. Built in the 18th Century to replace the previous opera house that was destroyed in a fire, Teatro alla Scala shares its name with the church that was demolished to make way for its impressive bulk. A magnet to opera stars, La Scala has been drawing in the greatest performers for hundreds of years, often hosting the first showing of many famous productions. If you can, watch a ballet or concerto nestled down in a red plush seat on one of the burnished gold balconies. If pressed for time, the building is also a museum to the theatrical business with antique music scores, instruments, costumes, and set designs.
It would be foolish not to take in at least one gallery as part of your trip to the home of fashion and design. For world renowned photography, head to Studio Guenzani; for accessible contemporary art, try Circoloquadro; for the Old Masters, make a visit to Pinacotera di Brera. Also be sure not to miss the treasure that is Hangar Bicocca. A short drive from the centre of Milan this delightful modern gallery is a bit different from those that display more classical offerings in the heart of city. Exciting and often challenging, the permanent artworks exhibited here sit alongside constantly changing and arresting temporary exhibitions.
Many historic Milanese buildings were destroyed in World War Two, but still more great examples remain. It is an obvious choice, but the famous Duomo is still completely un-missable. Make sure to view inside as well as out, finishing with a climb to the roof to admire the statues, spires and gargoyles adorning the top. Another essential for architecture-lovers is Villa Necchi Campiglo. A little off the beaten track, this 1930s house is an architectural delight. The structure has been well-preserved and the gardens (complete with swimming pool) make for an excellent wander. The villa gained additional fame when it featured prominently in the 2009 film ‘I Am Love’ with Tilda Swinton. The English language tours around the house are a great opportunity to learn more about the building’s furniture, decorative arts, and ornaments.