Top 3 Leonardo’s Last Supper Tours in Milan

Leonardo’s Last Supper in Milan and How to See the Mural

The best way to experience this event is by joining a group tour. By doing so, you are assured of an entry ticket to the refectory and the opportunity to learn about the history of the painting from a knowledgeable guide.

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Leonardo’s Last Supper Mural at Santa Maria delle Grazie

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Leonardo’s Last Supper

Leonardo’s Last Supper mural is one of the world’s greatest and famous artworks. Painted by Leonardo da Vinci between 1495 and 1498, the mural depicts a relatively simple composition of human reaction in a varied and complex show of emotions. The painting contrasts between light and dark on the figures. The artwork closely represents the moments in the Christian Gospel, the scene of the Last Supper with Jesus Christ and his 12 Apostles, just after he reveals that he will be betrayed by one of them.

In the mural, Jesus wearing the traditional robe in red and blue, appears at the centre of a lengthened table with his disciples on both, the left and right side of him. Leonardo painted the disciples in four groups of three, symmetrically level. Jesus declares that he will soon be betrayed by “the one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with will betray me” (Matthew 26:23). Judas, who sits to the right of Jesus reaches out to the same bowl on the table simultaneously as Jesus, an act that marks Judas as the betrayer. Jesus also marks the supper with the sharing of wine and a piece of bread, thus establishing the Holy Communion rite.

Leonardo depicts an austere room in which the meal takes place. The sides are lined with dark tapestries. The back wall is accentuated with three windows, with views of the rolling hills of Milan’s countryside.

The stunning Leonardo’s Last Supper mural is one of the finest in the world. Leonardo adopted the unusual linear painting styles discovered in the Renaissance era to create the illusion of space. He applied parallel lines to converge at a single point to create the illusion of depth on a flat surface. This style of linear perspective draws the viewers attention to a single vantage point, in this painting is Jesus’ right temple. The focus to the centre of the mural depicts Jesus watching over the entire scene as well as very much present in the intense moment. The Leonardo’s Last Supper mural is best viewed fifteen feet above ground.

Over time, the mural sustained damage and underwent several restorations, with the final restoration completed in 1999. Despite restoration works, Leonardo’s acclaimed artistic qualities such as luminous colour, and soft facial expressions have been lost. However, the linear perspective which he employed is still noticeable along with the human expressions and gestures.

Leonardo’s Last Supper mural remains fragile. Visitors are allowed viewing in small groups and for fifteen-minutes only, thus ensuring a slow deterioration. The Last Supper mural is housed on a wall in the Refectory of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie Milan

Santa Maria della Grazie - Milan bucketlist | Leonardo's Last Supper Tours in Milan
Leonardo’s Last Supper | Santa Maria delle Gracie, Milan

Leonardo’s Last Supper

Showcasing a combination of both Renaissance and Gothic architectural style, the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is protected as UNESCO World Heritage Site as well.

A structure of sophistication, the Church of Santa Maria is an emblem within the Catholic tradition and is a symbol of Renaissance Milan.

How to View Leonardo’s Last Supper Mural at the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie

Leonardo’s Last Supper mural at the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie can be viewed in one of the following three ways. If you want to see this incredible centuries old preserved painting on the wall, you must book your place in advance of your visit. Book one of these three recommended Leonardo’s Last Supper tours in Milan for best experiences:

The ultimate aim of all three tours above is to ensure you get an up-close and personal experience of the world renowned timeless mural of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci Peruse the details and book your experience of Leonardo’s Last Supper tours in Milan with your preferred tour operator.

What to expect from the Leonardo’s Last Supper tours in Milan

Culture of Italy | Last Supper Leonardo da Vinci

Image above provided by Get Your Guide and Information about the tour on Leonardo’s Last Supper Tours in Milan are provided by Get Your Guide and Viator, our trusted partners.

Discover a masterpiece of the Milanese Renaissance when in Milan. Admire Da Vinci’s masterful “Last Supper” at the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan up close. Also known as the “Cenacolo Vinciano,” the mural is hidden away on a wall of the refectory at the Basilica.

On this guided tour, your guide will give a quick introduction to Renaissance art in Italy, describing how it became one of the most fertile periods of painting in the world. Learn why the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro, commissioned Leonardo, and how he presided over the most important period in the Milanese Renaissance.

Spend up to 15 minutes appreciating one of the most iconic images of Christ in the world.

Practical Information

Location: Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie, 20123 Milano MI, Italy

Opening hours:

From Tuesday to Saturday from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm.

On Sunday from 9.00 am to 1.45 pm

Max. 18 admitted every 15 minutes.

Closed Monday, New Year’s Day, May 1st and Christmas Day.


Also included below are other related tours which you may also like to consider. These tours are highly popular and offer best experiences of the City of Milan.


Other recommended tours when visiting Milan

Leonardo’s Last Supper

Milan Cathedral and Last Supper tour | Leonardo's Last Supper Tours in Milan

Led by a guide, you will experience the best of Milan. Visit the iconic sights of the Duomo and Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper without waiting in queues. Have more time experiencing the City of Milan such as the Brera District and off the beaten paths.

Get Your Guide > Details

Viator > Details

Milan Cathedral and rooftop ticket | Leonardo's Last Supper Tours in Milan

This attraction ticket gives you access to all areas of the 600 year old Milan Duomo. Access to the terraces, cathedral, museum and archaeological area. Marvel at beautiful adornments and stained glass windows, and visit the Church of St. Gottardo in Corte. Enjoy favourable discounts at the Duomo Shop.

Get Your Guide > Details

Viator – Details

Recommended read: Milan Cathedral — How to make the best of your visit

milan in a day | Leonardo's Last Supper Tours in Milan

Discover the best of Milan with a guide in this Milan in a Day walking tour. Experience a journey through time – from the medieval square, Duomo, Last Supper (please see details) and the fashionable district of Via della Spiga and the elegant Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

Get Your Guide > Details

Viator > Details

Recommended read: Milan bucket list ideas

Milan hop on hop off bus tour

This is an ideal option if you wish to explore Milan at your own pace. With a ticket for the open-top hop-on hop-off bus, there are 4 routes at your disposal. Explore all of the city’s top attractions, from the magnificent Duomo and La Scala to the city’s many quaint neighbourhoods.

Get Your Guide > Details

Viator > Details

Recommended read: Getting around Milan like a local – A Complete Guide to Transportation in Milan


Planning a trip to Milan?

Leonardo’s Last Supper Tours in Milan

Below is my go to resources when I plan my travels and I am happy to share them here with you to save time and money. You may find the resources helpful to plan your travels as well.

Travel resources at a Glance

Planning your dream vacation? Excellent! Here are all the Resources and Practical information you need for your self-guided or guided vacation.

Legal entry/Tourist travel Visa

Check Visa requirements with iVisa, a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry.

Flights

I have a few choices. Search Google flights because they offer very competitive prices. You could also try Opodo for cheap airfares. For special experiences, go to On the Beach and Jet2Holidays. My all time favourite has been Qatar Airways for long-haul flights for the comfort and their first-class service. I use British Airways as well. For all other global deals >> kiwi.com

Accommodations

My favourite website for booking hotels is booking.com – I love their flexible cancellation policy which means I’m covered till the last minute. I also like that the totals show up for the whole stay so it helps me budget better. Other favourites of mine are Millennium & Copthorne Group of Hotels and Resorts for their consistent high quality accommodations and service. You could also take a look at the Radisson Hotels chain that caters for all budget. For accommodations in UK that has a personal touch and affordable luxury, stay at Hotel du Vin.

Unique experiences & tours

My all time go to resource for unique experiences and tours is Get your Guide. I am also a fan of Viator for their special deals. You shall find suggestions on recommended tours sprinkled throughout TTS on each experience I write about.

Travel insurance

Never travel without travel insurance and never overpay for travel insurance! I use and recommend World Nomads for your travel insurance needs. They even insure on the go. Before purchasing any any travel policy, read through the terms to ensure that the plan is right for you and your trip.

Travel essentials

Never travel without these! I use and fully endorse all the products on this page but especially: High powered wireless power bank, Universal travel adapter and unlimited portable pocket wifi.


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12 Very Best Day Trips from Milan Italy

12 Very Best Day Trips from Milan

While any day is an enjoyable day in Italy’s fashion capital, day trips from Milan will lead you to adventures, exploring captivating medieval cities, cultural gems and simple, beautiful lakeside towns where moments are frozen in time.

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With high-end shopping galleries, finest architectural and artistic masterpieces, along with a myriad of winding streets, Milan offers so many things to do for a visitor on any given day. If you can build into your itinerary a day or two to venture out of the city on a day trip, to experience something different, exploring the hidden cultural gems of medieval cities, castles and lakeside towns, then selecting from this article on 12 very best day trips from Milan curated just for you will be a great starting point to a perfect itinerary and timeless travel.

best day trips from Milan | timelesstravelsteps.com

1 | Lake Como | Day trips from Milan

Spend a day at Lake Como, Italy’s third largest lake and only a stone’s throw from the city of Milan. In under an hour in what is a seamless train journey, you will experience the most beautiful of the northern Italian lakes. The natural beauty of its settings, steep wooded shoreline and pristine aquamarine waters has been the playground for the aristocrats and wealthy since Roman times.

What to do in Lake Como

Enjoy a luxurious cruise around its waters and take in the sights of beautiful villas and stunning alpine scenery. Combine this lake visit with a tour of the larger town of Como, located in the southern tip of the lake. Spend at least a couple of hours exploring the hidden gems of Como city, notably the neoclassical building of Villa Olmo, Como Cathedral and Piazza Duomo. Don’t forget to ride the historical Brunate Funicular, operating since 1894. It connects Como city with the village of Brunate. A 7-minute ride up gives you panoramic views over the lakes and the Swiss Alps.

Along with the stunning landscapes and medieval villages, Lake Como has been Italy’s silk capital since the 16th century. World famous, Como is home to Mantero, just 15 minutes drive from Como city centre. If you can’t get to Mantero, then stop by at A.Picci, trading since 1919 and is the last remaining silk shop in town, dedicated to selling Como silk.

A day trip to Como typically involve a visit to the smaller town of Varenna and hopping onto a ferry to Bellagio. All three offering different landscapes to the lake.

Best time to go to Lake Como

The best time for visiting Lake Como is between March and November. The warm temperature allows you to enjoy boat tours and walks.

Best ways to experience Lake Como

Day trips from Milan

There are two best ways to experience Lake Como when visiting Milan:

1 | Self-guided

A self-guided visit to Como allows you to explore at your own pace and longer day as you could take the last train or bus back to Como. Both are seamless and cost-effective.

TTS recommends: If you are exploring on your own, I would highly recommend a train journey from Milan Central Station.

Como by train

2 | Join a group tour with an established tour operator in the travel industry

Day trips from Milan

Join a group tour and enjoy a full day trip to Como from Milan onboard a luxury coach with a knowledgeable guide. L

Join a group tour and enjoy a full-day to Como from Milan onboard a luxury coach with a knowledgeable guide. Guided tours takes you to some of the key points in Como and you do get to see and experience quite a lot in a day! Guided tours are offered by way of a train journey or a coach. If you opt for a coach tour, you can be assured of a relaxing and comfortable journey back to Milan after all the walking you’d do in Como 🙂

Georgina: Lake Como is often combined with other nearby destinations such as Bergamo but I think to fully experience Lake Como, a full day should be dedicated to exploring this picturesque area of the lake district in Italy.


2 | Lugano and Bellagio from Milan

2.1 | Lugano

Day trips from Milan

Known as “Monte Carlo of Switzerland”, Lugano sits on the southern Swiss border, Italian Canton of Ticino, south of the first ridge of the Alps. Lugano is easily reached in less than an hour from Milan offering breathtaking vistas of the Swiss Alps and shopping opportunities, a destination often high on a tourist list to this region.

What to do in Lugano

Immerse in the wild beauty of the lakeshore, the dominating San Salvatore and Brè Mountains. Fall in love with the Italianate architecture in the city, chic shopping streets where you buy the best Swiss chocolates. The villages are huddled to the mountainsides over the lake, offering picturesque sights for perfect photo opportunities.

San Salvatore – From Paradiso, take a 12-minute ride up onboard a funicular to reach the 900 metres for amazing views over the lake and the Alps.

Monte Brè – At 925 metres above sea level, Monte Brè is regarded the sunniest mountain in Switzerland and a perfect home to a special flower, Christmas Rose, which usually only found in the Mediterranean climes.

Combine Lugano with a trip to Bellagio: The “Pearl of Lake Como”, in less than an hour from Lugano.

2.2 | Bellagio

Day trips from Milan

Known as the “Pearl of Lake Como”, Bellagio is located in less than an hour from Lugano. Bellagio is unique – for its cobbled lanes, elegant buildings and an 18th-century terraced garden with lake views.

What to do in Bellagio:

Enjoy the charming town with its cobblestones and Villa Serbelloni, an 18th century terraced garden with lake views.

Best ways to experience Lugano and Bellagio:

Day trips from Milan

1 | Self-guided

Best way to reach Lugano or Bellagio is by train from Milan. The journey time from Milan Centrale to Lugano is a little over an hour.

If you want to reach Bellagio by train, take the train from Centrale to Varenna, nearest station to Bellagio. From Varenna take the ferry across to Bellagio. The are regular services to Varenna.

Check train schedule to suit your itinerary:

Milan Centrale to Lugano

From Milan Centrale Station to Varenna-Esino

2 | Group tours

Join a small group tour from the centre of Milan, seeing the very best of Lugano and Bellagio and plenty of time to explore on your own. There are various options offered, with some tours taking off from Como. Check and book now, on the one that best fits your itinerary.

For off the beaten path adventure in Bellagio:

Join a 2-hour activity exploring a wilderness trail in a place that is so close to Bellagio and yet, little known and little visited. The village of Lezzeno, between the mountains and the lake.


3 | Bergamo – Day trips from Milan

A visit to Bergamo is often combined with a visit to Lake Como but I think it’s worth dedicating a day exploring this historic town. With hills stretching for miles and its incredible surrounds, a remarkable experience awaits.

What to do in Bergamo

This charming, yet hidden and unexplored city has plenty of medieval architecture to marvel at including the 5 kilometres of medieval wall encircling the old town. Explore Bergamo Alta, the hidden city at the top of the town, accessed via a funicular. Visit the Venetian Works of Defence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for incredible views over Bergamo.

Other incredible experiences at Bergamo Alta not to be missed: Bergamo Cathedral, St. Maria Maggiore Basilica, and the Colleoni Chapel.

Best ways to experience Bergamo:

1 | Self-guided

Getting to Bergamo:

2 | Group tours

Spend a day on a walking tour of this medieval city and explore its history and culture.


4 | Lake Maggiore & the Borromean Islands – Day trips from Milan

Lake Maggiore and the Borromean Island are perfect destinations as day trips from Milan, an escape to the peaceful haven from the hustle and bustle of the city. Enjoy a day hopping-on and off the 11 islands that form this cluster of pretty charm.

What to do in Lake Maggiore and surrounds

The main attraction here are the three distinct islands, Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori (also known as Isola Superiore). Explore their individual charms at leisure and enjoy the tranquility of the natural beauty of the islands. Visit Palazzo Borromeo, a unique 10-tiered baroque garden design in Isola Bella that has remained intact. Isola Madre is home to a fabulous Palace Museum and Gardens which should not be missed. Isola dei Pescatori is a fisherman’s village and the only village inhabited all year round.

Best ways to experience Lake Maggiore

1 | Self-guided

Begin your day of island hopping at Stresa, a lakeside town which is about 1 hour 7 minutes from Milan by train. All the islands are a short ferry ride of each other.

Travel by train to Lake Maggiore from Milan options:

2 | Group tours


5 | Verona – Day trips from Milan

Best time to visit Verona

Anytime between March and September is a great time to visit. July and August are the busiest months of the year for tourism – expect to pay premium prices for accommodations and long queues at attractions. From mid February/March to June and September to early November, the weather is mild with less rain, which also makes a perfect time to visit Verona.

What to do in Verona

Best ways to experience Verona:

1 | Self-guided

How to reach Verona from Milan

Pro tip: Verona is a beautiful town and offers so much to see,, do and experience. I spent 3 days in Verona and wished I could have stayed longer. Dedicate 1 day in its entirety at the very least in Verona, because Verona is so much more than Juliet’s balcony.

Recommended read: Unique experiences in the City of Verona

2 | Group tours

Day trips from Milan

Join a group tour onboard a luxury coach from Milan to Verona and Lake Garda.


6 | Lake Garda – Day trips from Milan

Lake Garda, the largest, cleanest and the most famous of lakes in Italy definitely warrants a visit. It’s crystalline waters, the beautiful backdrop of snowcapped mountains, charming towns of Bardolino, Sirmione and Desenzano will captivate you from the moment you arrive here.

What to do in Lake Garda:

Take a quick cruise out to scale the shores and be captivated with the villas of the rich and famous. In Bardolino, there are two Romanesque churches which you simply must see. Sirmione, the “Pearl of Lake Garda” has so much to offer visitors including a medieval fortress, Roman villa and the Catullo caves.

Best ways to experience Lake Garda:

Day trips from Milan

1 | Self-guided

Getting to Lake Garda:

There are two ways to get to Lake Garda from Milan by train. First option is to arrive at Desenzano del Garda from Milan. The journey is 51 minutes and there are 25 trains each day. Secondly, a train journey to Peschiera del Garda will take 57 minutes, also 25 trains in a day.

1 | Group tours | Day trips from Milan

For convenience, group tours are a popular option. Day trips from Milan by coach to Lake Garda are in comfortable air-conditioned coaches accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. As well, day trips from Milan to Lake Garda often combined with a trip to Verona. This makes an excellent value for money experience.

Timeless Travel Steps Best Tip:

1 | Verona and Lake Garda Day Trip from Milan


7 | Venice – Day trips from Milan

Venice needs no introduction! This romantic city of canals, bridges, cobbled streets and gondolas must be in everyone’s list of things to do when in Italy.

What to do in Venice:

You may not be able to fit all of Venice’s delights in a day trip from Milan but if a day is all you have, then allow yourself to be charmed by the fantastic architecture that characterises one the world’s favourite cities. Wander the little alleys and stop for coffee at the infamous Piazza San Marco. Hop over to Venice’s nearby island, Murano and experience the colours of the island and its historic tradition with glass-blowing. If you could do a gondola ride through its many canals at sunset, it will surely be memories well worth the money!

Best ways to experience Venice on day trips from Milan

1 | Self-guided

If you wish to explore Venice independently, the best way to do so is to make your way to Venice is by train. Make an early start so you have a full day in Venice.

Getting to Venice: 

Takes a little over 2 hours to reach Venice by train from Milan. The average travel time between Milan and Venice is 2 hours and 32 minutes. The quickest route is 2 hours and 10 minutes. There are 22 trains in a day between Milan and Venice, leaving approximately every hour.

2 | Group tours

Day trips from Milan

Group tours are highly popular and the following tours have been carefully selected for you.


8 | Cinque Terre – Day trips from Milan

Visit one of Italy’s most scenic landscape with layer upon layer of rainbow-hued medieval houses perched upon hillsides – the five villages of Cinque Terre are sure to captivate and delight visitors of all ages. A UNESCO World-Heritage is also one of the most Instagrammable site!

What to do in Cinque Terre:

A day is too short a time to explore all five medieval villages but there will be enough time to wander round Monterosso al Mare (the largest of the Cinque Terre villages) and Vernazza.

Ways to experience Cinque Terre: 

1 | Self-guided

Getting to Cinque Terre: 

There is a direct train from Milan to Monterosso which takes about 3 hours. There are other routes that require a change at Genoa.

2 | Guided Group tours

Book a coach tour from Milan to Monterosso. Spend one day exploring this picturesque Italian villages. Some tours include a 1.5 hour boat trip to Vernazza, a beautiful fishing village in every sense.

1 | 4 Day Italian Riviera from Milan

2 | Cinque Terre Sunset Boat Tour


9 | Genova and Portofino – Day trips from Milan

Get away for a day and go on a scenic drive along the coast to the three colourful gems in the beautiful Ligurian Coast. Genova is Italy’s largest port and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Together with the colourful villages of Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure, it is a delightful area of the Italian Riviera to explore as day trips from Milan.

What to do in Genova & Portofino:

The historic streets of Genova is home to monuments dedicated to its maritime history and memorials to Christopher Columbus. Sail along the coast to the glamorous fishing village of Portofino that dates back to Roman times, take in the picturesque sights of the fishing boats and spend some time exploring the Santa Margherita Ligure.

Ways to experience Genova & Portofino

Day trips from Milan

1 | Self-guided

You can explore independently by car or train. However, parking is very limited here and the recommended option is to take the train.

Getting to Genova or Portofino:

When taking a train to this area, you may have to decide between Genova or Portifino. Genova has a lot to offer and can typically involve a full day of discovery if you wish to explore the off-the-beaten paths as well.

Alternatively, take the train from Milan to Santa Margherita and from here, walk to Portofino. It is quite an easy trek. When in Portofino, take a boat ride to visit the abbey – San Fruttuosa. To catch your return journey from Santa Margherita, you could get the bus from Portofino.

Check train schedule to suit your itinerary:

2 | Guided group tours

Day trips from Milan

Onboard a coach tour from Milan city centre with a tour guide. This day trip from Milan includes a boat trip to Portofino.

Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips: from Milan to Genova & Portofino

1 | From Milan > A full-day tour to Genova and Portofino

1 | Food Tours > Do Eat Better Experience

2 | Genoa Day Tour: 4 hours of Wine Food History and Joy

3 | Gulf of Portofino Private Boat Tour

4 | Portofino Boat and Walking Tour with Pesto Cooking & Lunch

5 | Andrea Boat Charter Portofino

6 | Ligurian Sea Day Sailing Trip by Set Sail Tours/ Lavagna, Italy

Note: For those who do not know – Genova is the original Italian word for this city while Genoa is the English version of the word.


10 | Interlaken & the Swiss Alps – Day trips from Milan

Day trips from Milan

Venture to another country while visiting Milan! Just a few hours and you would arrive in Interlaken – one of the most scenic places on earth!

What to do in Interlaken:

Enjoy the stunning panoramic views of the Swiss Alps onboard the Green Train of the Alps.as it takes you on a journey through Simplon pass, one of the most beautiful crossings in Switzerland. Take an amazing cruise on Lake Thun and explore Interlaken at your own pace before your return journey.

Best way to experience Interlaken & the Swiss Alps

Onboard a high-speed train from Milan to the town of Domodossola to board the Green Train of the Alps.

Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips:

From Milan: Interlaken & Swiss Alps Day Trip


11 | Florence | Day trips from Milan

Florence is an unmissable destination for most visitors to Italy, especially so for art aficionados. Considered to be the birthplace of Renaissance, Florence is home to many Renaissance masterpieces, architectural delights and monuments.

What to do in Florence, Italy

Day trips from Milan

One of the most iconic sights in Florence is the Duomo. The Cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome was designed by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto. This impressive Duomo offers panoramic views from the top. Make time to visit the Uffizi Gallery, exhibiting Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus”.

The Ponte Vecchio is another experience not to miss – the first arch bridge built in the west which crosses over the Arno River. There are many jewellery and souvenir shops along here as well.

Best ways to experience Florence as day trips from Milan:

1 | Self-guided

Getting to Florence by train is the best option if you are not driving. You can reach Florence from Milan in under 2 hours on the high-speed trains! There are 36 trains in a day. The last train leaves Florence at 10:00 p.m. giving you ample time to explore the city.

Timeless Travel Steps Best Tip:

Florence Day Trip From Milan By Train – this option includes the following:

City map and guidebook;

Florence hop-on hop-off bus tour ticket (valid for 24 hours);

Round-trip high-speed train ticket between Milan and Florence;

Skip-the-line ticket for the Uffizi Gallery (if option selected);

Book Florence day trip from Milan by train

Note: This is not a guided tour


12 | Turin – Day trips from Milan

Day trips from Milan

Last but not least is the Unmissable Turin! The capital city of Piedmont in northern Italy is captivating. It’s refined architecture of baroque buildings, old cafes and grand boulevards makes Turin one of the best Italian cities to visit. The bustling piazzas of Castello and San Carlo draws many and so are the miles of arcades to be explored. To top it off are a number of Michelin-starred restaurants.

Certainly, of course, Turin is most famous for “Shroud of Turin” also known as “Holy Shroud”. A piece of linen believed to be the garment in which Jesus was covered with after his crucifixion. The garment has been preserved since 1578 in the royal chapel of the cathedral of San Giovanni Battista.

Best ways to experience Turin when visiting Milan

Day trips from Milan

1 | Self-guided

The most convenient way to get to Turin from Milan when exploring the city independently is by train. Take the high speed train for a journey time of 1 hour 27 minutes. There are about 40 trains in a day. Last trains are at 10:00 p.m. giving you plenty of time to explore.

Note: Schedules may differ on weekends


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Important tips to consider:

Train travel in Italy

When planning ahead on your train travel journeys, one thing to bear in mind is that in Italy, point-to-point train journeys works cheaper. Therefore, when planning your day trips from Milan and your trip is a one-off journey, purchase a return ticket for your trip. However, if you are visiting a couple of the cities and planning on travelling by train over several days, then the Interrail Pass is a cost-effective option > Check Interrail for best options

Places to stay in Milan

A selection of hotels carefully selected for you to consider > Beautiful places to stay in Milan


Final thoughts on day trips from Milan:

These are the very best day trips from Milan which we have put together for you to design your itinerary your way. You have options to explore either independently or by joining a group tour for when you visit Milan. We recommend group tours because we find day trips are excellent value for money excursions. You can’t experience everything a destination offers but it certainly gives an overview of a destination, essential experiences and opportunities to return to explore deeper.

We hope that this list on 12 very best day trips from Milan is of value to you. Our suggestions are carefully curated for the discerning traveller who wants to create their very own timeless travel memories. As well, consider using the links to book your flights, train travel, places to stay and activities. We earn a commission from qualified stays and bookings at no cost to you at all. As always, we appreciate your continued support. You may wish to support us in other ways also.

Have a great time exploring Milan and surrounds.

Georgina xoxo

MILAN

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12 Very Best Day Trips from Milan first published at timelesstravelsteps.com Last updated on April 23, 2022

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Arco della Pace | An unmissable monument in Milan

Arco della Pace | An Unmissable Monument in Milan

An elegant Neoclassical architecture stands gallantly at one of Milan’s oldest city gates surrounded by lush green oasis. The Arco della Pace is freely accessible and one not to miss!

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Update: April 24, 2022

Arco della Pace or the Arch of Peace is an elegant Neoclassical architecture and a symbol of Milan. It stands at Porta Sempione, one of the five oldest of the City’s gates. This symbolic monument is surrounded by the largest lush green oasis of this fashion capital, Parco Sempione, which is a popular tourist attraction in itself. The area is freely accessible and the Arco della Pace is an unmissable attraction when visiting Milan.

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History of Arco della Pace

Designed by architect Luigi Cagnola in 1807, it echoes Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. It was originally named Arco delle Vittorie (Arch of Victory) to celebrate Napoleon’s victory. The Arch is built at the start of Corso Sempione, a road that connects Milan to Paris along the Simplon Pass. This meant that Napoleon would pass through the Arch on his way into the Italian city. However, with Napoleon’s fall in 1814, this Neoclassical facade was left unfinished.

Post-Napoleonic era, the Arch was renamed Arco della Pace in 1815. Work resumed in 1826 and completed in 1838, in time for the crowning of Ferdinand I as King of Lombardy-Veneto. Ferdinan I dedicated the Arch to Francis I. Later, and with another change of power in 1859, the Arch was rededicated to the unified Italy. Sadly, Luigi Cagnola died in 1833, not having witnessed the completion of the Arch.

The architecture of Arco della Pace

arco della pace

The design of Arco della Pace is similar to the Arch of Septimius Severus at the Forum Romanum in Rome. It features a large passageway along with four Corinthian columns, decorated with bas-reliefs and sculptures. At 23 metres, this monument was built using several materials, including the Baveno granite and Creola d’Ossola marble.

At the top of the Arch, there are three groups of bronze statues. The central one is of a Goddess led by six-horses – the Chariot of Peace, sculpted by Abbondio Sangiorgio. The statues on either side of the arch were created by Giovanni Putti and are known as the Victories on Horseback. The sculptures were intended to face Paris but their position was modified by the Hapsburgs after Napolean’s defeat. The horses were turned 180 degrees to face the City.

arco della pace milan

Just below the statue, in the four corners of the columns are representations of the four rivers that flow through the former kingdom of Lombardy-Veneto regionPo, Ticino, Adige and Tagliamento. Bas-reliefs along the sides of the monument depict scenes of Battle of Leipzig which led to Napoleon’s defeat rather than his military victories. Other bas-reliefs depict major events in Italian history.


Practical information to support your visit

1 | Location of Arco della Pace

If you are accessing Arco della Pace via Sforzesco Castle, then it is located at the far end of Parco Sempione. Parco Sempione can be accessed at the rear of the Castle.

Read: Parco Sempione Milan: 5 Unmissable Attractions in Milan’s largest green oasis.


2 | How to get to the Arco della Pace

Attractions in Milan are all located within walking distance. If you decide to use public transport, then the following might be helpful. The starting point is from Piazza del Duomo, the central square and the meeting point for most in Milan.

Take Line 1 Subway and Line 1 Tram

This journey involves a 6-minute transfer

From the Duomo, take the Metro (M1) to Cadorna Fn . Journey is 3 minutes and costs 2 Euros.

At Cadorna, change to Tram 1. A 8-minute journey to Arco della Pace and costs 2 Euros.

Take Line 1 Tram

From the Duomo Metro Station, walk to Cordusio M1 – about 4 minutes.

Board Tram 1 to Arco della Pace. Journey is about 20 minutes, costs 2 Euros

Alternatively, you can take a taxi which costs around 8 Euros.


Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips when visiting the Arch of Peace:

When visiting Milan, consider joining a tour or two to learn about the history of the City. If you are a foodie, join a food tour so you get to experience the authentic Milanese restaurants that only the local experts know. If time permits, get away from the City for a day and experience the Lake Districts or the mountains or better still, visit a neighbour!


Lake Como with Bellagio and Lugano Day Trip from Milan

Milan Cathedral and Rooftop Ticket

Milan Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour: 72, 48-Hour or 1 Day Ticket

Milan: Da Vinci’s Last Supper Skip-the-Line Guided Tour


Sincerely hope that this easy guide is valuable to you in planning your visits to the Arch of Peace and I would love to hear your thoughts.

Have an awesome time exploring the City of Milan.

MILAN

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Milan: 45° 27′ 51.37″ N 9° 11′ 22.24″ E

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Arco della Pace | An unmissable monument in Milan first published at timelesstravelsteps.com and is regularly updated. Last update April 24, 2022

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Parco Sempione (Milan) | 5 must-see attractions

Parco Sempione, Milan | 5 Must See Attractions

A perfect haven in the midst of a bustling metropolis, Parco Sempione offers much more than tranquility. Here is a guide on the unmissable 5 attractions within the Park not to miss.

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Parco Sempione Milan

parco sempione milan

Parco Sempione is the largest green space in the city of Milan. It is located at the rear of Sforzesca Castle, in the northwest of the city. Covering an area of about 95 acres (38 hectares), it is a perfect haven to relax, to walk, jog, to bike ride or just about anything you wish, to fly away the time. The shaded area, sculptures and ornate fountains are especially inviting. Flora and fauna abound here as is the tranquillity in some areas where it is not crowded. This peaceful haven is popular amongst tourists as well as Milanese who seek respite from their hectic city life.

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This article includes affiliate links. We earn a commission at no cost to you at all. These links have no influence on the editorial content we produce. Learn more here.


Parco Sempione Milan over the years

First established in 1888, the park was used as a hunting ground by the Sforza family, the Dukes of Milan. Then it was landscaped when Napolean came, with a few orchards. In 1891, a large park was constructed for the public.

Today, Parco Sempione has a number of attractions on site which should not be missed when you are visiting this peaceful and tranquil haven. There are 5 attractions which are made up of the Sforza Castle, Arch of Peace, an aquarium, a sporting arena, and Torre Branca, one of the tallest tower in Milan.

5 Must See Attractions in Sempione Park Milan

1| Sforza Castle in Parco Sempione

Milan in one-day - Sforzesco Castle

Sforza Castle is a landmark in Milan. An impressive red brick fortress which was initially built in the 14th century by the Visconti family. The Castle was almost destroyed during the Golden Ambrosian Republic. It underwent massive improvements and reconstruction later in the 15th century when the Sforza family became the Dukes of Milan. The Sforza Castle became one of the largest palaces in Europe. Today, Sforza Castle is home to several museums that houses valuable art and masterpieces. Notably, Michelangelo’s unfinished last work, the Rondanini Pietà and Sala delle Asse, frescoes by Da Vinci.

Address: Piazza Castello, 20121 Milano MI, Italy | Hours: Tue – Sun 09:00 – 17:30

Read: Guide to Sforza Castle and Museums Milan


2 | Arco della Pace Milan

The Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace) is a symbol of Milan and marks one of the historic gates. This was the strategic route taken by Napoleon when he invaded Northern Italy. This triumphal monument, is a beautiful structure made of marble and was completed in 1838. Standing at 23 metres and topped with horse-drawn chariots. is a landmark not to miss when visiting Milan.

Address: Piazza Sempione, 20154 Milano MI, Italy

Read: Arco della Pace A Guide for Visitors to Milan


3 | Arena Civica, Sempione Park Milan

Also in Parco Sempione, there is Arena Civica which is one of Milan’s most popular sporting venues. The official name is Arena Gianni Brera, named after the famous Italian writer and journalist. Designed by Luigi Canonica, the Arena Civica was Napolean’s mini-colosseum which he opened with a chariot race in 1807. This Neoclassical stadium hosts major sporting events such as soccer, rugby games and concerts. The Arena is open daily to the public.

Address: Viale Giorgio Byron, 2, 20154 Milano MI, Italy


4 | Acquario Civico in Parco Sempione

The Acquario Civico di Milano (Civic Aquarium of Milan) is tucked away in a convenient corner of Parco Sempione. Opened in 1906, it is beautiful, but a rather small aquarium. Home to over one-hundred species of fish, it tells a story of the mountain streams to seabeds. The are video presentations on the rare species.

The Acquario Civico is open to the public every day except Monday. Entrance is free.

Address: Viale Gadio, 2, 20121 Milano MI, Italy


5 | Torre Branca Milan

Torre Branca is no ordinary tower!. It is narrow and made completely of steel. At 108.6 metres, Torre Branca is one of Milan’s tallest buildings. The Tower was designed by Gio Ponti and erected in just two-and-half months in time for the 5th Triennale exhibition in 1933.

torre branca sempione park milan
torre branca sempione park milan

Take the elevator to the top, step out to see the incredible views over the City of Milan, the skyscrapers both old and new as well as the snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips for the Branca Tower Sempione Park Milan

Aerial view of Milan from Branca Tower - Milan bucket list idea

A visit to Branca Tower is recommended when visiting Parco Sempione. There are 3 ways how you can experience the Branca Tower:

1 | Enjoy a glass of aperitif after exploring the beautiful park at the Branca Tower while you enjoy views over the beautiful city of Milan. Guided tour. Check availability for your chosen day>

2 | If you wish to explore the park independently, purchase your entrance ticket online. Prices start from just € 6 (April 2022). Book your experience>

Torre Branca Milan Practical Information

Opening times varies:

On mid April-mid October: 

Tues and Thurs 9.30pm-midnight

Wed 10.30am-12.30pm/4pm-6.30pm/9.30pm-midnight

Fri 2.30pm-6pm/9.30pm-midnight

Sat and Sun 10.30am-12.30am/2.30pm-7.30pm/9.30pm-midnight. 


On mid October-mid April: 

Wed 10.30am-12.30am/4pm-6.30pm

Sat 10.30am-1pm/3pm-6.30pm/8.30-midnight

Sun 10.30am-2pm/2.30pm-7pm.

NB: The Torre Branca is closed for visits in case of bad weather.

Address: Torre Branca
Parco Sempione, viale Milton
M1-M2 Cadorna FN
T:+39.02.3314120


Practical information when visiting Parco Sempione

1 | Map of Parco Sempione

To support your visit to the Park, below is a map of Parco Sempione in Milan with markers for the 5 attractions I have listed on this post.


2 | Plan ahead

When visiting Milan, consider joining a couple of city guided tours to enhance your experiences. There are hundreds of unmissable activities in Milan for all ages and interests. Plan ahead and secure your ticket/s especially if you are planning on visiting “The Last Supper” at the Santa Maria delle Grazie. Pre-book your tickets and stay flexible with easy cancellation up to 24 hours before. Save time, avoid queues and purchase skip the line tickets for major attractions.


3 | Travel Resources

Travel resources at a Glance

Planning your dream vacation? Excellent! Here are all the Resources and Practical information you need for your self-guided or guided vacation.

Legal entry/Tourist travel Visa

Check Visa requirements with iVisa, a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry.

Flights

I have a few choices. Search Google flights because they offer very competitive prices. You could also try Opodo for cheap airfares. For special experiences, go to On the Beach and Jet2Holidays. My all time favourite has been Qatar Airways for long-haul flights for the comfort and their first-class service. I use British Airways as well. For all other global deals >> kiwi.com

Accommodations

My favourite website for booking hotels is booking.com – I love their flexible cancellation policy which means I’m covered till the last minute. I also like that the totals show up for the whole stay so it helps me budget better. Other favourites of mine are Millennium & Copthorne Group of Hotels and Resorts for their consistent high quality accommodations and service. You could also take a look at the Radisson Hotels chain that caters for all budget. For accommodations in UK that has a personal touch and affordable luxury, stay at Hotel du Vin.

Unique experiences & tours

My all time go to resource for unique experiences and tours is Get your Guide. I am also a fan of Viator for their special deals. You shall find suggestions on recommended tours sprinkled throughout TTS on each experience I write about.

Travel insurance

Never travel without travel insurance and never overpay for travel insurance! I use and recommend World Nomads for your travel insurance needs. They even insure on the go. Before purchasing any any travel policy, read through the terms to ensure that the plan is right for you and your trip.

Travel essentials

Never travel without these! I use and fully endorse all the products on this page but especially: High powered wireless power bank, Universal travel adapter and unlimited portable pocket wifi.


… finally

So, what do you think? Is this post valuable to you in planning your visit to Parco Sempione? If so, use the links embedded in this article and related articles to book your flight, train travel, accommodations, activities to do and travel essentials. We earn a commission from qualifying purchases and stays at no cost to you at all. You could also support TTS in other ways, if you prefer. As always, we appreciate your continued support.


Stay Connected! Sign-up free to Exclusive Readership Offers and Access to Our Timeless Travel Stories & Valuable Guides to Create Your Very Own Incredible Experiences


Have a splendid time exploring Parco Sempione.


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Parco Sempione Milan, 5 must-see attractions first published at timelesstravelsteps.com and is regularly updated. Last update: April 24, 2022

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Sforza Castle and Museums | Castello Sforzesco | Milan

Sforza Castle and Museums | Castello Sforzesco | Milan

Update: April 24, 2022

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Why and When was Sforza Castle built

Sforza Castle, an iconic red brick fortress was built in the 14th century by the Visconti family who made it into a splendid palace. It was almost destroyed during the Golden Ambrosian Republic. Later, in the 15th century, it became the home of the Sforza family, who were powerful rulers of Milan. Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan built on the remnants of the 14th fortification. The castle was reconstructed with the involvement of several of the greatest artists of the times such as Donato Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci. It was one of the most magnificent residences in Italy as a result.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, Sforza Castle was renovated and enlarged to be one of the largest castles in Europe.

sfroza castle milan

During the next four centuries, the castle was dominated by foreign powers, French, Spanish, Austrian. The function changed as well, from a residence to a military complex. It was later used as barracks by the Italian army.

In 1905 the castle was completely restored to the way it was under the Sforza family by architect Luca Beltrami. The parade grounds at the rear of the castle was turned into a park.

Post restoration

During World War II, the castle was severely damaged. At the end of the twentieth century the Castle square was built with a fountain in the centre. In 2005, the restoration of the Cortile della Ghirlanda and the halls of the castle were completed.

Sforza Castle Milan

The Sforza Castle is of a square plan, with three inner courtyards dominated by four imposing towers on each corner. There are two round towers facing the city and two square towers at the other end. The round towers are known as the Torre di Santi Spirito and the Torre del Carmine. At the rear are two more towers, the Torre Castellana and Torre Falconiera.

The main entrance to the Sforzesco Castle is via the castle’s tallest tower, Torre del Filarete. It leads to an expansive inner courtyard. Exploring the castle grounds will bring you to the Torre di Bona di Savoia. Beyond this tower lies two smaller courtyards, the Cortile della Rocchetta to the left and the Corte Ducale to the right.

The Rocchetta was the castle’s stronghold and the last refuge in case of a siege.

Corte Ducale Sforza Castle Milan

The Corte Ducale (Ducal Courtyard) is elegantly designed in Renaissance style with a beautiful loggia, Loggetta di Galeazzo Maria. Some of the rooms around the Corte Ducale are decorated with magnificent frescoes from the fifteenth century, designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

Sforza Castle today | An oasis of art & culture

The building alone is well worth a visit but within the walls of Sforza Castle is home to some treasure trove of Milan history.

The Museums at Sforza Castle

The Castle houses several distinct museums bringing together art, paintings, sculptors and musical instruments that tells the stories upon stories of Milan’s cultural and civic history. Watch the virtual tours through the links below, courtesy of Google Arts & Culture, and you will discover, as I, just how fascinating these museums are.

The highlights of the Museums are:

1 | Rondanini Pietà Museum

This museum features Michelangelo’s final and unfinished work, the Rondanini Pietà, now housed in the frescoed hall of the castle’s Ospedale Spagnolo (Spanish Hospital).

Michelangelo continued to work on this sculpture up until the last days before his death in Rome in 1564. It was just a few weeks before what would have been his 89th birthday.

Carved from a single block of marble, the sculpture depicting the Virgin Mary grieving over the body of Christ stands to a height of 74 inches.

Sforza Castle - Rondanini Pieta
Image from Google Arts & Culture

View virtual tour of Rondanini Pietà

2 | The Museum of Ancient Art

The Museum of Ancient Art houses the Sforza family’s sculptures of great value from the 5th century to the 16th century.

3 | The Pinacoteca

The Pinacoteca (Picture Gallery) hosts Lombard, Venetian and Flemish works. Made up of over 1500 works of art between the 13th and 18th century, it includes famous names such as Canaletto, Mantegna, Bronzino, Lorenzo Lotto, and Titian.

Sforza Castle - Pinacoteca
Image from the official website of Pinacoteca Museum, Sforza Castle (View of Room 21)

View virtual tour of the Pinacoteca Museum

4 | Museum of Musical Instruments

Displays musical instruments from all over the world and is one of the most important museums in the world.

View virtual tour of the Musical Instruments Museum

5 | The Antique Furniture and Wooden Sculpture Museum

This part of the museum features antiques dating from the 15th to 20th centuries. The furniture are displayed in various rooms representing respective periods.

View virtual tour of the Antique Furniture and Wooden Sculpture Museum

6 | Museum of Decorative Arts

The museum shows the work of pottery makers, sculptors, upholsterers and weavers.

View virtual tour of the Museum of Decorative Arts

7 | Sala delle Asse

This part of the the museum is frescoed by Leonardo da Vinci,

8 | Egyptian Museum

Houses several objects from Egypt including statues, and mummies.

9 | The Archaeological Museum of Milan

This museum is home to objects from the main cultures that lived in Lombardy from the Neolithic period.


There are couple more exhibitions such as the Medal & Numistica Collection, and the engraving collection, “Achille Bertarelli”.


Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips:

sforza castle and museums | timelesstravelsteps.com

If you are planning on visiting the Sforza Castle and Museums, consider our best selling options on Sforza Castle and combinations:

1 | Admire the last masterpiece of Michelangelo while unveiling the footsteps of da Vinci when visiting the Castle. Check availability> Sforza Castle + Michelangelo’s Pieta Rondanini

2 | Two-hour guided tour of Sforza Castle and Museums (includes museum entrance ticket);

3 | Sforza Castle Guided visit

4 | Sforza Castle Entrance Ticket with Digital Audioguide


Practical information for visiting Sforza Castle, Milan

Hours and Admission

Opening hours

Castle
Monday-Sunday   7.00-19.30

Museums
Tuesday-Sunday  9.00-17.30      Last admission 17.00 (only for ticket holders)

Closed on Mondays, December 25th, January 1st, May 1st

Free entry to Sforza Castle

The Castle’s central courtyard is free at all times. It is Free entry to the museums on every first and third Tuesday of the month from 14.00

How to get to Sforza Castle

Location: Sforzesco Castle, Piazza Castello, 20121 Milan

On public transport

M1 and M2 (red and green lines) Cadorna FN
M1 (red line) Cairoli
M2 (green line) Lanza


For a comprehensive guide to using the public transport in Milan, read > Getting around Milan – A Complete Guide to Public Transport. This article has all the information you need to get around Milan with confidence like a local. Includes types of transit tickets you may require, costs and links to the official ATM websites.


Other Useful info:

Contact:

Tel: +39 02.88463700 | www.milanocastello.it

Accessibility

While most of the rooms are accessible to the disabled, rooms 9, 10, 15, 23, 24 are not accessible.


Recommended read: Beautiful places to stay in Milan

Recommended Resources to Plan ahead your visit to Milan

Travel resources at a Glance

Planning your dream vacation? Excellent! Here are all the Resources and Practical information you need for your self-guided or guided vacation.

Legal entry/Tourist travel Visa

Check Visa requirements with iVisa, a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry.

Flights

I have a few choices. Search Google flights because they offer very competitive prices. You could also try Opodo for cheap airfares. For special experiences, go to On the Beach and Jet2Holidays. My all time favourite has been Qatar Airways for long-haul flights for the comfort and their first-class service. I use British Airways as well. For all other global deals >> kiwi.com

Accommodations

My favourite website for booking hotels is booking.com – I love their flexible cancellation policy which means I’m covered till the last minute. I also like that the totals show up for the whole stay so it helps me budget better. Other favourites of mine are Millennium & Copthorne Group of Hotels and Resorts for their consistent high quality accommodations and service.

Take a look at the Radisson Hotels chain that caters for all budget. For accommodations in UK that has a personal touch and affordable luxury, stay at Hotel du Vin.

Unique experiences & tours

My all time go to resource for unique experiences and tours is Get your Guide. I am also a fan of Viator for their special deals.

Travel insurance

Never travel without travel insurance and never overpay for travel insurance! I use and recommend World Nomads for your travel insurance needs. They even insure on the go. Before purchasing any any travel policy, read through the terms to ensure that the plan is right for you and your trip.

Travel essentials

Never travel without these! I use and fully endorse all the products on this page but especially: High powered wireless power bank, Universal travel adapter and unlimited portable pocket wifi.

My thoughts on Sforza Castle

Sforzesco Castle, is not only a castle full of art but is also huge and beautifully landscaped with central courtyards that beckons a visit when you are in Milan. If you do not have time for the museums, visit this castle courtyards as it is open to the public and it is free. Moreover, Parco Sempione, Milan’s largest public green space is located at the rear of this magnificent landmark, so a visit through the courtyard is highly recommended if you are visiting Sempione Park.

Recommended read: Parco Sempione Milan – 5 Unmissable Attractions


Your turn 🙂

So, what do you think? Is this post valuable to you in planning your visit to Sforza Castle? If so, use the recommended links to book or reserve your flights, train travel, accommodation and activities to do. Our trusted partners have long-standing reputation in the travel industry and I am sure you will have good experiences with them also. I use them unequivocally. TTS earns a commission on qualified bookings and stays at no cost to you at all. As always, we appreciate your continued support.

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Enjoy the beautiful city of Milan.

Georgina xx


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Sforza Castle and Museums | Castello Sforzesco | Milan first published at timelesstravelsteps.com and is regularly updated. Last update – April 24, 2021

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Milan Cathedral – How to make the best of your visit

Milan Cathedral. timelesstravelsteps.com

Milan Cathedral – How to make the best of your visit

Update: April 25, 2022

Milan Cathedral is a mesmerisingly beautiful masterpiece that stands in Piazza del Duomo.

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What to expect from this article

If you are planning a visit to Milan Cathedral while on a trip to the City of Milan, then this is the best guide for you. I have listed the main attractions at the Cathedral so you don’t miss them. The best 10 highlights in Milan Cathedral are absolutely to look out for on your visit. Also included are best tips on how to maximise your experience for a memorable and timeless visit.

Milan Cathedral highlights | timelesstravelsteps.com

This article includes affiliate links. We may earn a commission at no cost to you at all. These links have no influence on the editorial content we produce. Learn more here.


Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips for Milan Cathedral:

1 | If you are exploring independently, you may find tickets to the Duomo, Archaeological site and the Museum to be the best value option.

2 | Alternatively, the fast track access to Milan Cathedral and Rooftop with a guide is an excellent option also;

3 | Milan Cathedral and Rooftop access with an audio guide, if option selected.

Visiting Milan, Italy

Milan is a city that is easy to get to, both by air and land along with convenient transportation around the city. Exploring a metropolis such as Milan may require a few days, or multiple visits. However, if you have only a day or a weekend, the city makes a good getaway as well.

My planned visit to Milan was a brief one — a little shopping, a little exploring and a little adventure. My ultimate desire was to visit the iconic landmark  — Milan Cathedral. The Duomo took centuries to build, and so much history at every turn, along with the added experience of a magical Walk on the Rooftop of the Duomo.

FACTUAL INFORMATION TO MAKE THE BEST OF YOUR VISIT TO MILAN CATHEDRAL

There are many reasons to visit this masterpiece! There are so many interesting and fascinating “spots” to explore and to delve deeper in this Cathedral of over 600 years old but I limited my curiosities to the ones listed in this article – Top 10 Highlights. I hope my list below will inspire you to visit this iconic building (if you haven’t already) and act as a guide to make the best of your visit to Milan Cathedral.

Before I take you through the highlights, here are some factual information to the Cathedral which may guide you to make the best of your visit here.

1 | Milan Cathedral is the fifth largest Cathedral in the world

Standing at 515 ft (157 metres) long and 302 ft (92 m) wide in Piazza del Duomo, Milan Cathedral can house up to 40000 people. It is the fifth largest Christian church in the world following St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York and Seville’s Cathedral.

This large Cathedral has seen a lot of history pass her by because it took almost 600 years to complete this masterpiece. Construction began in 1386 and the final pieces were laid in 1960s but seeing the scaffolding on the roof of the Cathedral, something tells me that the work is not quite complete yet!

The construction of the Cathedral involved many thousands of workers (as one can imagine!) and a new canal system in its many waterways to transport the special marble from Val D’Ossola. During its construction, many architects, sculptors and artists contributed to its fabric, making it an international creation, creating a unique and an impressive piece of architecture, merging the Gothic and the Romanesque style.

2 | Milan Cathedral is a unique majestic structure

The Cathedral’s splendour of white and pink marble (sourced from the Candoglia quarry in Val D’Ossola) can be admired from many corners of the City. Its roof is covered in openwork slender pinnacles and spires crowned with almost 2000 sculptures that overlook the city. Apparently, this Gothic Cathedral has the most statues than any other building in the world! On the highest spire of the Cathedral, you will find the Madonnina, a gilded bronze statue of Mary, which was sculpted by Giuseppe Perego in 1774. I understand that over the years the Madonnina has become the symbol of Milan.

3 | Forest of spires

From the floors of Piazza del Duomo, looking up to this majestic structure, Milan Cathedral’s forest of one hundred and thirty-five spires seem to touch the sky and I felt a tingle of excitement and amazement as I approached this imposing Cathedral. Its rich decorations are a sight to behold and truly gave meaning to what Mark Twain had said of this wonder back in 1867:

“What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful! A very world of solid weight, and yet it seems in the soft moonlight only a fairy delusion of frostwork that might vanish with a breath! How sharply its pinnacled angles and its wilderness of spires were cut against the sky, and how richly their shadows fell upon its snowy roof! It was a vision! —a miracle! —an anthem sung in stone; a poem wrought in marble!”

MARK TWAIN, INNOCENTS ABROAD

However, not all may agree with me or Mark Twain! For even back then in 1875, there were differing opinions on the Duomo. Oscar Wilde visited Milan Cathedral and wrote of his disappointment on the Cathedral to his mother in June of 1875. He described it as “an awful failure”. Here’s the extract I found:

“The Cathedral is an awful failure. Outside the design is monstrous and inartistic. The over-elaborated details stuck high up where no one can see them; everything is vile in it; it is, however, imposing and gigantic as a failure, through its great size and elaborate execution.“

OSCAR WILDE

I shall let you make up your own mind whether it is a beautiful structure or a failure – in the meantime though, please read on and find out what it is really like on the outside and inside of Milan Cathedral.

4 | Other facts that you may wish to know

There are about 3200 to 3400 statues in total, both inside and outside of the Milan Cathedral but no-one really knows the exact figure;

The central porch of the Cathedral dates back to 1800 and was sculpted by Ludovico Pogliaghi.

THE UNMISSABLE TOP 10 HIGHLIGHTS OF MILAN CATHEDRAL

Inside of the Cathedral is spectacular as you will see from the highlights below. The rooftop terraces are even more so, given the incredible views it offers over the City of Milan. Walking on the rooftop of the Duomo was an experience I longed to cherish, and I was very happy to be able to tick that experience off my list. Catching the sunset when I visited, well it was an exquisite experience that will last a lifetime, an experience which I strongly encourage you to go for if you can. Have a look at both the videos below on my rooftop experiences.

1 | Walking on the rooftop of Milan Cathedral | Duomo di Milano

The rooftop, without a doubt is the highlight of the Cathedral’s experience. There are two ways to access the terraces of the rooftop of Milan Cathedral – by stairs and by lift.

If you wish to take the stairs, there are about 250 steps, not many but they can be narrow. If you wish to take the lift, and avoid climbing altogether, you need to purchase a ticket that includes this option.

Purchase your tickets to the Duomo and rooftop experience here

The rooftop offers an incredibly beautiful, slender pinnacles of intricately carved marbles holding a saint or a statue. There are so many towers, spires and statues that you would be totally lost in counting them if you tried! There are 135 spires and 2000 decorative marble statues on the rooftop alone. The close-up of the spires is an impressive sight. Looking at the statues and spires just made me wonder at the incredible talent of the masons to carve something so intricate and beautiful.

I was totally taken into the distant views of the snow-capped mountains of the Alps – I was fortunate as the day was clear and sunny, although the autumnal chill and the breeze on the rooftop saw me with my coat and scarf all the time.

Watch these videos and you will see what an amazing sight and experience it can be.

The changing hues of the sunset over the city of Milan viewed from the rooftop of the Duomo | © georgina_daniel

View post in its entirety on The Best of Milan-Sunset on the Rooftop of the Duomo

From the outside of the Cathedral, though huge, I did not really feel how mega-huge it is until I stepped in. Inside of Milan Cathedral is vast and elegant. The marble floor is captivating from the moment you step in. There are three aisles.

NB: Dress Code – Shoulders and knees must be covered to enter the Cathedral.

2 | The uniquely designed marble floor of Milan Cathedral

Uniquely designed marble floor rules the Cathedral
Uniquely designed marble floor rules the Cathedral

The marble floor just rules the Cathedral! You can set your watch by it and it has a legend. So here goes…

2.1 | Sundial on the floor of Milan Cathedral

Along the left wall runs a long-gilded brass strip broken up by the twelve zodiac signs. It is a watch and a solar calendar – you could set your watch by it. The brass strip is the meridian and is also a sundial. Sunlight from a hole on the ceiling allows the sun to shine through and leave a mark on the zodiac sign, the bronze strip on June 21st (the summer solstice), and on December 21st (winter solstice), the sun reaches the Meridian which is on the opposite wall.

At one time, Milan’s City’s clock was set by it and the Italians also used it as the prime reference for their astronomy. This ancient meridian and sundial were placed in 1768 by astronomers from the Accademia di Brera.

2.2 | The Meridian at Milan Cathedral

The Meridian at Milan Cathedral was the astronomical reference for the Prime Meridian until it was replaced by Greenwich Meridian, England in 1884.

View article on The Royal Observatory, Greenwich

According to the Cathedral’s resources:

“Being a watch and a solar calendar perfectly working, it had required over centuries of several checks and restores. One of these was made in 1827 and it was necessary because of the lowering of the floor plan.

A second test was made in 1929 by astronomer Louis Gabba on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Observatory of Brera.

The last check was made in 1976 as the excavations of the first subway line and the lowering of the phreatic aquifer caused a further lowering of the Cathedral floor. The gnomic hole, site at the first vault of the first bay of south aisle, was also widened.”

DUOMO DI MILANO

Unfortunately for me, the sundial was presently not working because of work being carried out on the roof of the Cathedral. The use of scaffolding blocked the sunlight coming through the vault.

2.3 | The legend

Although the Cathedral is dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente (Saint Mary Nascent) and associated with Christianity, legend has it that it was also associated with pagan spirit which explains the unusual find of zodiac signs in a Christian place of worship.

3 | The marble columns of Milan Cathedral

Milan Cathedral has large sculpted marble columns or pillars if you prefer, that reach the ceiling. There are fifty-two columns, one for each week of the year and they are very high. Really high. Majestic, impressive and somewhat portrays a stately feel.  Looking up, the columns seemed to lead to heavens above!

4 | Paintings on the wall

There are large paintings on the walls, representing scenes from the bible.

5 | Private Chapels and places to reflect

There are private chapels where you can have a sit and reflect. Very quiet, peaceful and a sense of calmness all around.  

6 | Stained glass windows at Milan Cathedral

Walking around the Cathedral, there are large, rich stained-glass windows. Each of the stained-glass windows has a history associated with it such as the historical moment or the artists who created them. The Cathedral is lit-up by sunlight seeping through these stained-glass windows that gives a sort of enlightening charm. Windows are also lit from the inside to aid visitors to appreciate the details that these windows depict. A number of larger windows are located at the oldest part of the Cathedral also.

Pro Tip: When you are in the middle aisle, marvel at the central window in all its glory with the mysterious sun that seems to illuminate the nave and the enlightening charm will have you in awe.

The central stained-glass window depicts the scenes of the Apocalypse. The side windows tell the stories from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

Large stained-glass windows behind the altar
Closer look at the stained-glass window in Milan Cathedral

Stained-glass windows on the left and right side of aisles that depicts stories from the Old and New Testament of the Bible in Milan Cathedral | © timelesstravelsteps | Photo: georgina_daniel