Milan's Galleria Milan is Italy's finance and fashion capital, with hundreds of billions of euros invested on the Italian Sto...

5 free things in Milan from cathedral to canals

Milan's Galleria

Milan is Italy's finance and fashion capital, with hundreds of billions of euros invested on the Italian Stock Exchange and tens of billions more spent yearly in the city's luxury boutiques. While Florence attracts art-lovers, Venice the romantic and Rome the faithful, most travelers to Milan come to broker deals and indulge in the latest Italian fashion trends.
Nonetheless, there is plenty to see for those whose pockets are not so deep — be it by style choice, or not.
  1. WINDOW SHOPPING - Think Milan, think fashion. It's invitation-only to the four annual Milan Fashion Week runway previews, where designers offer their vision on next season's looks — often adding audacious embellishments not really intended for the showroom.
  2. DUOMO - The ornate white facade of Milan's Duomo cathedral is the city's single most-recognized symbol. The Gothic-inspired Duomo took nearly six centuries to complete, incorporating a cornucopia of styles by its completion in 1965, and is among the largest cathedrals in Europe. The Duomo is also the seat of the archbishop of Milan, Italy's largest and most influential diocese that gave the world two popes during the 20th century.
  3. HANGARBICOCCA - Visitors to Italy feast on Renaissance and Baroque treasures, but there are increasing efforts to promote contemporary art — including the HangarBicocca, founded and funded by the Pirelli tire company. The capacious former industrial complex in Milan's Bicocca district on the city's northern edge has been transformed into the largest private contemporary art space in Europe. 
  4. PIAZZA GAE AUELENTI - A visitor emerging from the Garibaldi train station may, in a moment of disorientation provoked by the glare of glass and steel, confuse the towering skyline ahead with the heart of post-unification Berlin. The new skyscrapers at Piazza Gae Aulenti, named for the late architect and designer, have little bearing on Milan's neoclassical architecture. 
  5. NAVIGLI - Landlocked Milan had to dig a navigable system of canals to ease commerce and construction throughout the centuries. Today the canals are the center of Milan's nightlife — lined with restaurants and cafes — but there is plenty to see by day. An antiques market featuring more than 350 sellers unpacks on the banks of the Naviglio Grande every last Sunday of the month except in July.