Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site

Main Page This family-friendly site celebrates Italian culture for the enjoyment of children and adults. Site-Overview




Milan - Milano:  images, La Scala, the Cathedral, on line guide...





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Milan is the advertising capital of Italy, responsible for some of the most beautiful graphic art designs in advertising.


















































































Milan, for many, brings to mind:

Not a bad collection of associations!

Free Fodor's online guide to MilanTwo guides for Milan and her surroundings from




Italy's wealthiest city, is also in the top five in Europe.  It's fast moving, well connected with a subway system and other mass-transit, densely populated (1.3+ million), economically energetic, and outward looking.

Milan is also:

  • a financial center (the stock market MIB)
  • a media center for newspapers, magazines, television and radio,
  • a major center of higher education with the top public and private Italian universities,
  • the cycling center of Italy,
  • served by two major airports: Malpensa (international) and Linate (national).

But above all, Milan is a confident city.  Some, especially non-Milanese Italians, would say it's an arrogant city, that prefers to identify with Europe to her north, rather than Europe to her south. 

I find that generally the insecure view the confident as arrogant.  And many poorer cities in Italy feel insecure when confronted with Milan's wealth and un-Mediterranean industriousness. 

I've never found the Milanese to be arrogant, only a bit condescending and even embarrassed when talking about the rest of Italy because it's not as modern as Milan.



The fashion industry centered in Milan, is world-class, up there with New York and Paris in importance to the world-wide fashion industry.

Via Monte Napoleone is where the top fashion houses have flagship stores.  And many of their design studios can be found in the Fashion District (Quadrilatero della Moda):

  • Via Monte Napoleone,
  • Via della Spiga,
  • Via Sant'Andrea,
  • Via Pietro Verri).

This is a new book in a new series of books that offers a classy look at classy things in classy cities around the world.


These are some of the Italian fashion houses based in Milan with links to their creative websites (visit my Fashion page for more on Italian fashion).:


The Cathedral

There are over 2 dozen churches in Milan, but the heart of Milan will always be the cathedral square, the Piazza del Duomo, dominated by the magnificent gothic cathedral.


I was lucky to view it one winter surrounded by a fresh snowfall.  The white snow set off the grey stone from the grey cement surrounding it, so it looked as if the magical structure had emerged from the white blanket of snow fully formed.  The snow also dampened the usual noise in the square so the resulting hush only added to the magic of the moment.

The cathedral was built mainly during the 14 and 1500s, but the facade was completed only the in the early 1800s.  It's the second tallest, and third biggest Catholic church in the world.

Interior of Milan's Cathedral looking to the nave.

This is the cathedral and square from space, courtesy of Google Earth.  Just to show you how much it's considered the center of Milan, when you enter 'Milan, Italy' into Google Earth, it zooms in on the cathedral!


La Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

Next to the cathedral square is the Vittorio Emanuele Gallery.  It is shaped like a church, as you can see in this image from space, courtesy of Google Earth.

Built in the 1860-70s, it provides covered shopping, dining, coffee-drinking and people watching in an atmosphere of elegance.  It's always used as a setting for any film shot in Milan

The glass dome in the center lets it light, but keeps out the variable northern Italian climate.  This is what all shopping malls should be like.  You'll find bookstores, cafes, restaurants, high fashion boutiques, and even a hotel linked to the Galleria (deep pockets needed to stay there!).

Vittorio Emanuele

There are restaurants in the Galleria, but here's a book that can help you sample some of the other, many, restaurants in Milan.  And a book to guide you to other wonderfully designed buildings in this surprising city.


Walk through the Galleria from the cathedral side to the northern entrance, and you arrive at Piazza la Scala, and the Teatro alla Scala.


Teatro alla Scala Opera House

The Teatro alla Scala Opera House was built in 1778 to replace the previous opera house that burned down (common in the days before electric lighting).  It's north of the main cathedral square, just behind the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, in Piazza la Scala, named for the La Scala church that used to stand there.

I love this evocative shot of the theatre from the window of a neighbor on the square.

The theatre has a wonderful website in Italian and English that includes among other things, a detailed cross-section of the theatre complex.  This is only the part showing the theatre itself.

This old image of the interior of the theatre shows the horseshoe shape, but the modern interior is all red and gold, recently renovated.  They also renovated the stage, and backstage areas, which was greatly needed to allow for the modern electronic set designs that need to be stored above and below, automatically.

The theatre's website offers a short history of the theatre's repertoire if you're interested.  I'll just say that in the days before television, La Scala's openings were a European event, besides being a citywide event.

From the earliest opera-buffa performances to the lovely lyrical performances, the art that graced the stage of La Scala, influenced and entertained since it's beginning.

Giuseppe Verdi, Italy's most revered and famous opera composer, for his musical genius, popular arias and nationalistic spirit, lived for much of his professional life in Milan, and opened many of his operas at La Scala.  He was given an adopted native-son funeral procession on his death in Milan in 1901. 

And to honor him during his dying days that January, the city covered the street before his house with straw to mask the noise of the carriages and horses traversing the cobblestone street.  The great artist who'd filled so many lives with music, was allowed to die in peace and quiet.

Castello Sforzesco

The imposing Castello Sforzesco in Milan, is named for the man who developed the structure, the mercenary leader and Prince Francesco Sforza.

Successive Sforza heads of Milan and her territories throughout the Italian Renaissance, built up the castle and her gardens.  Ludovico Sforza, Prince during the late 1400s, is mainly know today as a patron of Leonardo da Vinci.  And in the museum housed in the castle, is one of Da Vinci's famous notebooks.

The Sforza property was huge and surrounded by a protective wall, the outlines of which are clearly visible from space, courtesy of Google Earth.


Da Vinci's Last Supper

Just about every tourist to Milan makes a pilgrimage to the small church of Santa Maria delle Grazie that houses the mural Leonardo Da Vinci painted by order of his patron, Ludovico Sforza:  Il Cenacolo or The Last Supper,  depicting Jesus's last supper with his disciples.

Because of Da Vinci's experimentation with various methods of making mural and fresco painting look more like oil paintings on gesso, The Last Supper is in a very poor state of repair.  If you are in Milan, take the opportunity to visit it, as you may not have the chance in years to come.

I know people might be tired of novel having to do with Da Vinci...but this is one having to do with Il Cenacolo and Da Vinci specifically, and if said to be very entertaining.  A nice travel companion for your trip to Milan.  And a book about the few of Da Vinci's many notebooks that remain today, just for fun.