There is no doubt about it, Milan is a football town. Alongside being home to Italy’s biggest football stadium, it also boasts two teams with richer than rich histories.
Rome may be the country’s main attraction, but Milan does have a right to claim to be its calcio capital, even if Juventus and Torino from nearby Turin have five more Scudetto titles between them. Though when you factor in European Cup wins, Milan crushes Turin 10-2 on the continental stage.
Yet despite its enviable footballing pedigree, Milan is so much more than 22 men kicking around a ball on a field for 90 minutes.
Duomo square is its most encapsulating attraction, and really is the centre point of the city. It is here where the crowds gather to visit the amazing Duomo Cathedral, a gothic-style place of worship which took over six centuries to fully construct. While the inside is fairly plain, its grandeur makes up for it.
But perhaps the most intriguing feature that the cathedral has is its roof, from which it offers spectacular panoramic views of Milan from and plenty of selfie and photographic opportunities to the visitors amongst its spires.
In the heat, climbing the stairs feels a little more gruelling than it actually is, and visitors definitely work up a sweat. For a couple of Euros more there is the option of reaching the rooftops by elevator, although the walk pales in comparison to the calf-shredders presented by the likes of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, St Olaf’s Church in Tallinn or St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
Adjacent to the cathedral in Duomo Square is another impressive building in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls.
Impressive window displays can be found here in the plethora of clothes shops as Milan is one of the planet’s fashion capitals. Even if a lot of the stuff is expensive, window shopping is clearly encouraged.
Sforza Castle is another of the Milan landmarks that is a must-see, and if it can be caught on a day when it is basking in glorious Italian sunshine then even better.
The castle and its gardens, built in the 15th century by then then-Duke of Milan Francesco Sforza, are open to the public at no cost. Not only is it a chance to see castle defences designed by Leonardo da Vinci himself, but it is also a good budget option for those looking to do things on the cheap.
Sforza Castle is not the only place to see da Vinci’s works, however, as perhaps his most famous – a paining entitled ‘The Last Supper’ – is housed in the basement of Santa Maria delle Grazie, one of the city’s famous churches. Although be warned, as the advanced booking of tickets is advised, and can be done here.
One of Italy’s biggest plus points is its amazing cuisine, and one hotspot for an evening meal is the trendy Navigli district. Centred around two canals, Navigli has plenty of restaurants at reasonable prices, as well as bars which attract plenty of youthful customers. It’s a nice place to visit at any point of the day, but looks especially nice at night when the canals are lit up with fairy lights.
And, yes, while it’s clearly not all about football, sometime should still be made for the sport through a tour of Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, more commonly known as the San Siro. Its intimidating exterior coupled with its sheer size is impressive, and its car park is also plenty big enough for a game of one bounce. A ticket also allows entry into the AC and Internazionale museum, which although is not the most informative for English speakers, has an impressive collection of memorabilia.
Milan is a great city for any football fan, but even for those that don’t like football or sport in general, there are plenty of other things to see, do, experience and enjoy.