When you think or hear about Milan, you immediately associate it with the Duomo, the Sforzesco castle and the “quadrilatero della moda” – symbols that for sure had helped this city to make it recognizable all around the World. But, let me say, Milan has definitely more to offer to its visitors.
If you’re a tourist planning to stay some days in this beautiful city, and you’re looking for some nice spots to visit out of the usual touristic routes, or even if you’re a local that wants to know the city better – here’s a way to spend a day in the economic capital of Italy, taken directly from a citizen who didn’t know how to pass a boring Sunday in his city and who ended up discovering some little hidden gems never seen before.
The “Museo Della Scienza e Della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci”
Located next to the “Sant’Ambrogio” church, and a few minutes by walk from the Homonym subway station – this interesting museum is definitely a must see, especially because it allows you to realize what a big contribution Italy gave to the development of science and technology in the past.
First of all, it must be said that the museum is pretty vast and it will take you at least half a day to completely explore it, read all the information boards and participate in all the events (be advised these have to be reserved in advance on the museum’s website).
At a reasonable price of 10€ per person (7,50€ with the reductions, see the website to know if you can apply them) you will have the opportunity to take a 360 degree view throughout centuries of innovation and science, from Leonardo da Vinci (a very interesting section by the way) to aerospace engineering, extending through telecommunications, train and naval engineering, alimentation and renewable energies.
If I can only make one criticism – the staff of the museum should improve the sign posts to navigate between the halls a bit easier: as already mentioned, the museum is very large and the maps provided at the entrance are sometimes just not enough.
San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore
On the way back to the the city center, and only 10 minutes by walk, there what I personally think is one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen, unfortunately not as famous as many others (less interesting churches): San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore. As a Milanese, I personally felt ashamed to have discovered such a marvellous place at 29, but as they say, it’s better late than never.
Known as the Milan’s “Cappella Sistina”, this monastery’s façade is pretty sober and according to my personal judgement has no particular reason to be remembered (there are quite better examples of astonishingly beautiful façades), but what leaves you literally breathless are the interiors of this church.
Built in XVI century, the edifice has a nave divided into two parts: one for the faithful, and the other one for the nuns. Until 1794 the latter were strongly forbidden to cross the dividing wall. The most important artworks are the frescoes covering all the walls and the surrounding chapels, made in the XVI century by Bernardino Luini and his son Aurelio. The entrance is completely free and there are onsite volunteer guides that will be happy to help you with more historical info (leave a tip if you can, to maintain this masterpiece church at its best!).
Ossuary of San Bernardino Alle Ossa
Heading towards the Duomo and passing it by, only 20 minutes by walk from San Maurizio church, you will find in a piazza Santo Stefano – the San Bernardino alle Ossa Sanctuary. What I will share with you about it here in this article – is the ossuary located inside this church, which can be reached through an aisle on the right just after passing the main entrance to the church.
The origins of this ossuary are dated on the XIII century, when a nearby cemetery ran out of space, so in order to make a place for the new “guests” (allow me to use this word) a room was built to hold their bones. Then, a few decades after, a church was built. This church was later destroyed in 1712 by fire, and a new church was built in its place and dedicated to San Bernardino da Siena.
Until then, the adjacent ossuary kept growing with skulls, tibiae was used to decorate the walls, and it’s vault was frescoed in 1695 by Sebastiano Ricci. This chapel is definitely one of the most evocative places I’ve ever seen, and as well one of the most macabre too. Brochures are available inside at a reasonable price, but the gate-keeper is also willing to give you some explanations for free.
The Highline Galleria
Everyone knows the “Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II”, and everybody surely has walked in what the Milanese call lovingly their “living room”. But maybe not everyone knows that recently it has been made possible to walk on the roof of this Milan city’s landmark.
The Highline Galleria, in fact, allows you to have a new, different point of view of the city, with a walkway that will make you go around the gallery and its dome from above, letting you admire Piazza Duomo and the Milanese skyline from a different perspective. The price of the visit is a bit high according to me (12€ per person, considering that the walkway is not that long), but you can find a lot of offers on the Internet which may let you save some Euros. At the end of the path, don’t miss the chance to eat a good pizza at the restaurant located there, “I dodici Gatti“.
Well, what about your experience in Milan? Have you ever visited the places discussed above? Do you know other “secret” or unusual places in Milan you want to let us know and describe them?
Leave a comment, we’re interested in knowing your opinion and experiences!