Teatro alla Scala
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.