See Michelangelo's last work and hundreds of other paintings in Milan's beautiful Castello Sforzesco
Piescni tells us why Milan is like no other city in Italy, and why it is definitely worth visiting.
The dynamo behind the country's "economic miracle", MILAN is a city like no other in Italy. It's foggy in winter, muggy in summer, and is closer in outlook, as well as distance, to London than to Palermo. This is no city of peeling palazzi, cobbled piazzas and la dolce vita, but one in which time is money, the pace fast, and where consumerism and the work-ethic rule the lives of its power-dressed citizens.
Because of this most people pass straight through, and if it's summer and you're keen for sun and sea this might well be the best thing you can do; the weather, in August especially, can be off-puttingly humid. But at any other time of year it's well worth giving Milan more of a chance. It's a historic city, with enough churches and museums to keep you busy for a week - the Accademia Brera, Duomo and the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie - but there are also parks and cafés to relax in, and the contemporary aspects of the place represent the leading edge of Italy's fashion and design industry.
Historic Milan lies at the centre of a web of streets, within the inner Cerchia dei Navigli, which follows the route of the medieval city walls. Piazza del Duomo is the city centre's main orientation point: most of the city's major sights lie within this area, as well as the swankiest designer shops and most elegant cafés. Visits to art galleries and museums, the Duomo and other churches can be punctuated with designer window-shopping in the so-called Quadrilatero d'Oro, or sipping overpriced drinks among the designer-dressed clientele of the pavement cafés of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele or around the Pinacoteca di Brera art gallery. The second cerchia , the Viali , skirts behind the centre's two large parks - the Parco Sempione and Giardini Pubblici - to the canal sides of the Navigli in the south, following the tracks of defensive walls built during the Spanish occupation. Within lie the Castello Sforzesco and the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which houses Milan's most famous painting, Leonardo's The Last Supper . What follows is a wedge-by-wedge account of the city: Milan is not an easily wanderable city, so make a judicious selection, walking a little but where necessary hopping between places by way of the metro or other public transport.
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