Milan: Why you Should not Miss Visiting the Fashion Capital of the World
Contributed by Tia Meredith
An electric infusion between old and new, Milan is a center of high fashion coalesced with ancient art. With its haute couture, elite designers and super models, it somehow succeeds in harmonizing with its historical roots, architecture and art. Often used as stop-over point from its airport or a landing zone for taking day trips from Milan to Lake Como, it still reigns as the largest industrial city of Italy. Like the flashing lights of fashion photographers, here are some snapshots on why you should spend some time in this eclectic and captivating city:
In a Flash: Iconography, History, Architecture
The Cathedral (Duomo)
A symbol of Milan it is also the heart of the city. The third largest Catholic Church in the world, it is known for its more than 3,400 statutes and ability to intake 40,000 people at a time. Taking almost 600 years to build, its Gothic design elements along with its spires and statuary on the exterior ranks it at the top of things to do in Milan. Do not miss a chance to head onto the Dumo’s roof top for a city wide view. Not only is it an opportunity to see the iconic gargoyles, statues and flying buttresses up close, but on a clear day you will be able to see all the way to the Alps.
In a Flash: Couture, Design, Fashion
Milan Fashion Week
For those who are into high fashion, Milan’s fashion week is the ultimate experience when on vacation to Italy. Revealing a spring/summer collection between February and March and an autumn/winter collection between September and October, it is a bi-annual extravaganza of top models and couture design. Established in 1958, it is part of the big four fashion weeks internationally with the others being held in New York, London and Paris (respectively). A chance to see major fashion houses such as Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Prada reveal their latest designs; it is a unique opportunity only had on a Milan vacation.
In a Flash: History, Religion, Renaissance
Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
A perfect representation of the historical period in which Milan knew an explosion of art and culture is the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Designed by Bramante and built for the Duke of Milan Francesco I Sforza, the Church is a multi-form structure in Gothic style topped with a cupola. Begun in 1463 and reworked until the end of the fifteenth century, it is most known for the painting resting on its north wall in the refectory, The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. An unrivalled masterpiece contained on this church’s walls and painted between 1495 and 1497, it herald a new era in the history of art and is among the top Milan Italy attractions. However, other artistic works are housed within this Church. Take a trip to the oldest portion of the construction to see the frescoes of Storie della Passione (Stories of the Passion) by Gaudenzio, a monument erected for Ludovico il Moro and a representation of the old facade of the Cathedral (Duomo).
In a Flash: Culture, Music, Performance
La Scala Opera House (Teatro alla Scala)
Built in 1778, this world-renowned opera house is where the likes of Rossini, Puccini, Verdi and Toscani composed and conducted their works. La Scala hosted the prima (first production) of many famous operas and had a special relationship with Verdi. However, as revealed on Milan tours, for several years Verdi did not allow his work to be played here as he felt his music had been corrupted by the orchestra. Still, most of Italy’s greatest operatic artists and many of the finest singers from around the world have appeared at La Scala during the past 200 years.
Today, the theatre is still recognized as one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world and is home to the La Scala Theatre Chorus, La Scala Ballet and La Scala Theatre Orchestra. Recent performances include the four operas that constitute Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung but booking tickets for any performance is suggested prior to your travel to Italy as seats are hard to come by. If you miss a performance, try the MuseoTeatrale alla Scala (La Scale Theatre Museum), accessible from the theatre’s foyer and a part of the house. It contains a collection of paintings, drafts, statues, costumes, and other documents regarding La Scala and opera history while afterward you will get a chance to spend some time in the theatre.
In a Flash: Shopping, Style, Elite
Quadrilatero d’Oro/ Gallerie Vittorio Emanuele II
Milan is an haute couture powerhouse, where fashions jump from catwalk to clothing rails in weeks. But unlike the sprawling fashion district in Paris, Milan’s boutiques fit into a square known as the Quadrilatero d’Oro or “rectangle of gold.” Like a photo shoot for Italian Vogue, what is di moda in the fashion capital is worn here every day. Purchased and carried away by the elite to their5 star hotels in Milan, it feels like a fashion celebrity’s catwalk with paparazzi flashbulbs close behind.
Another historic shopping spot in exploring what to see in Milan’s top design is the Gallerie Vittorio Emanuele II. A glass-roofed arcade near the Duomo it opened in 1867 and is the oldest shopping mall in the world. Making not only clothing art, this famed nineteenth century mall is a picture of grandeur with its five story arcade covered with glass and unique iron roof. Containing high end clothing and Prada’s flagship store, be sure to check out designers such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci among the other sought after wears resting amid this imposing social structure.
A magnetic point for designers, artists, photographers and models, this industrial city is a perfect choice among Italy vacation packages. In seeming flashes of couture design, Gothic architecture and Renaissance art, the style of this city is unmistakable and electric.