The throbbing heart of Milan is Piazza del Duomo, the whole city seems to revolve around the square; people are everywhere, either on their way to the office or factory, a shopping or theatre date, or else slowly strolling around and windows-shopping the fashionable stores under the arcade. The huge rectangular square was renovated in the 19th century by Giuseppe Mengoni who restored all the surrounding buildings to harmonize with the Cathedral, which makes an ideal background setting. The two long side are actually arcaded buildings, the North Building and the South Building, the former pierced by the triumphal arch of Vittorio Emanuele Arcade and the latter followed by two minor arcaded buildings of 1939 known as the "propilei". In the centre of the square is Ercole Rosa's 1896 equestrian monument to Vittorio Emanuele II.


Cathedral of Milan
The Cathedral of Milan
The Cathedral, the Duomo of Milan, now symbol of the city, was commissioned in 1386 and is the world's fourth-largest church. The late-Gothic wonder features a forest of spires and statuary, marble pinnacles and pillars, all woven together with a web of flying buttresses. A gilded copper statue of the Madonna rises above the myriad vertices, distracting awed observers from the church's most interesting omission: The duomo has no bell tower. The Duomo's finest relic is a nail purportedly used to pin Jesus to a cross all those years ago. Every September, the Archbishop of Milan retrieves the sacred bit of metal from its perch high above the nave and presents it to an adoring congregation. The neighbouring Museo del Duomo chronicles the church's six centuries and displays an interesting collection of art and artefacts. This area, that comprehends the most of the centre of Milan is full of history: Churches, Museums, ancient buildings and Basilicas are here located. We’ll try to resume all this sights to give to the visitor an idea of this city so interesting and fascinating.


Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery, Milan
Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery
The well-known Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a huge and elegant, glass-roofed shopping arcade in Milan. The interior contains cafés, restaurants, and shops. It was designed by Giuseppe Mengoni, who fell from the roof and died a few days before the inauguration of the arcade in 1878.The gallery was built to connect Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Scala and formed part of an ambitious urban project. On the floor there are the arms of the four most important italian cities: the bull of Turin, the wolf of Rome, the lily of Florence and the red cross on a white ground (Milan).


Sforza Castle
Sforza's Castle
A beautiful symbol of Milan is the ancient and imposing Castello Sforzesco. This beautiful castle was constructed by Francesco Sforza as his residence and fortress in 1450. It was much loved by the Sforza family, especially Galeazzo Maria Sforza and Ludovico il Moro who added many decorative features to the castle. After its abandon, the castle nearly became victim to an urbanization scheme calling for its demolition - luckily the plan was defeated and the castle restored by Luigi Beltrami, at the turn of this century. The castle houses many museums and collections.Since 1896, the Castello Sforzesco has housed the Civic Museum, one of the largest collections of art in Milan. The ‘Corte Ducale’ houses the ‘Raccolte di Arte Antica’ and the art and sculpture gallery as well as the furniture collection and the Trivulzio Tapestries.


All around the Sforza Castle is Parco Sempione, a park which covers a surface area of about 115 acres and is rich of gorgeous trees such as beeches, planes, pines, red oaks, Lebanon cedars, elms and many more. In 1890 the architect Alemagna gave to the park its present appearance. It is a Romantic style park with English style organization. Walking through this beautiful park, you’ll find monuments to Napoleon III by Francesco Barzaghi, a sculpture fountain by De Chirico (the ‘Mysterious Baths’)and a tower by Giò Ponti dated 1932.


The Arena Civica, is located in the Castello Sforzesco area in order to provide a stable home for festivities and celebratory events for the Repubblica Cisalpina and the new Regno d'Italia. It was designed by the architect Luigi Canonica in 1806 near the verdant Parco Sempione. Built with materials taken from the castle ruins, the Arena Civica is modelled as a roman amphitheatresToday it is used as a sports ground. The elegant construction has been remodelled during the centuries to increase spectator capacity.


The Arco della Pace, a triumphal gate located at the beginning of Piazza Sempione, was built by Luigi Cagnola in 1807 to celebrate Napoleon’s victories. It was finished in 1838 for the occasion of the coronation of Ferdinando I as King of Lombardy-Venetia. The style reminds the one of the Roman Settimio Severo’s arch. On the trabeation the four rivers of Lombardy-Venetia are featured: the Po, the Ticino, the Adige and the Tagliamento) surrounded by bas-reliefs that feature episodes from the Restoration. From the top of the arch, is possible to admire a great view of the Castello Sforzesco and a close view of the bronze Chariot of Peace, created by Abbondio Sangiorgio. Once, the Chariot faced France, but when Milan was ceded to Austria, it was turned to face the centre of the city.


Santa Maria delle Grazie
Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie
One of the Italian genious of the past is Leonardo da Vinci. This city has one of the most famous work of Leonardo: the “Last Supper” in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. It is on the north wall of the refectory. The room in which is represented the Last Supper was used as a stabled during the Napoleonic era and was badly damaged by bombs in 1943. Fortunately, the work was saved because it was protected by sandbags.


 Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio
Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio
An important Basilica is located in this area: the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio. Ambrose founded the church which bears his name in 379; the building was rebuilt and modified on several occasions. The main parts of the present church date from the 11th century. There is a sunny courtyard in front of the church, from which you can admire the church's two bell towers. Interesting examples of religious art can be seen in the side chapels - but watch out for the slippery marble steps up to these. One of the oldest things in the church is the sarcophagus incorporated into a later pulpit. Dating to around 385, the large marble memorial was probably dedicated to a Roman military official. The striking Romanesque pulpit on top dates to 1080. St. Ambrose himself was buried here; he lies in state in the crypt, in a silver and crystal reliquary. Dressed in white robes, St. Ambrose is flanked by two martyrs clad in red. Its museum, includes paintings, fabrics from the fourth century, illuminated manuscripts, stained glass and mosaics. The museum is located in the portico that was left unfinished by Bramante (1492-4) and rebuilt after the Second World War.


Columns of San Lorenzo, Milan
Columns of San Lorenzo
Once in the Duomo Area you can't miss to visit the famous "Columns of San Lorenzo", the only monument of Milan that dates back to the Roman era. These sixteen columns that stand opposite the wonderful Basilica of San Lorenzo are all that remains of an ancient Roman temple.