Il Duomo di Milano
Piazza del Duomo, Centro Storico
The construction of Milan’s most famous cathedral started in 1386, and the fabric of the city seems woven into this incredible building, the fifth-largest church in the world. A highlight is the five bronze doors that depict scenes of Milan’s history, and many notable Milanese are buried inside (including one of the architects, Charles Borromeo). The exterior is a panoply of white marble threaded with pink, and the dozens of gothic spires are an icon of the city. Climb up to the roof and walk among some of the thousands of statues, spires, and gargoyles—and take in some of the best views of the city.
Santa Maria delle Grazie
Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie, Zona Magenta
Da Vinci’s The Last Supper captured the moment Jesus announced to his disciples—over dinner—that one of them would betray him. It’s one of the world’s best-known masterpieces, and it’s hidden in the old refectory of this convent, having survived bombing during WWII (workers sandbagged the fresco, sparing it the wreckage suffered by the rest of the building). The structure itself is beautiful, too—especially the Bramante-designed cupola flanked by colonnades, and the cloister inside.
Teatro alla Scala
Via Filodrammatici, 2, Broletto
This world-famous opera house was the passion project of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, who oversaw its construction in the 1770s (the opening night performance was Salieri’s Europa Riconosciuta). Intense bombing during WWII led to a series of major renovations (the most recent in 2004), and today it’s just as resplendent as it was in the eighteenth century. Red velvet, silk brocade walls, and gilded stucco are illuminated by a huge glittering chandelier composed of nearly 400 lamps. If you’re in town and appreciate opera or just theater in general, a performance at La Scala is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.