Milan, Italy

Milan's beautiful Galleria Vittorio Emanuele (1877). Photo © Sacred Destinations.

Milan is Italy's business hub and center of chic. It is the country's most populous and prosperous city, serving as the capital of commerce, finance, fashion, and media. Milan is also Italy's transport hub, with the biggest international airport, the most rail connections, and the best subway system. From St. Ambrose and Leonardo da Vinci to the waves of migrants who fueled its growth in the second half of the 20th century, outsiders have always been drawn to Milan for its open, freewheeling commercial culture and acceptance of new ideas. Virtually every invader in European history - Gaul, Roman, Goth, Longobard, and Frank - as well as a long series of rulers from France, Spain, and Austria, took a turn at ruling the city. In the Renaissance, Milan became one of the first independent city-states, but its heyday of self-rule proved comparatively brief. From 1277 until 1500, it was ruled by the Visconti and subsequently the Sforza dynasties. Today, Milan is the capital of Lombardy, the most populated and developed of Italian regions. The city proper has about 1.3 million inhabitants. Leonardo's Last Supper and other great works of art are in Milan, as well as a spectacular Gothic Duomo, many notable churches, a synagogue, and an ancient Christian baptistery.

Milan Cathedral
Milan Cathedral is a elaborate and spiky Gothic edifice on the main square in the city center. It is the second largest Catholic cathedral in the world. And you can walk on the roof!
Noted for its architecture, this basilica was consecrated by St. Ambrose in 387 AD. It became the model for all Lombard Romanesque churches.
San Lorenzo Maggiore
Dating from the 4th century AD, this is the oldest church in Milan. It recalls the days when the city was the capital of the Western Roman Empire. 16 ancient Roman columns line the front of the church.
Santa Maria delle Grazie
The former Dominican monastery church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan is home to Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, one of the most famous paintings in the world.
San Satiro
Founded in 876, this church was dedicated to St. Satyrus, brother of St. Ambrose, and stands on the reputed site of his house. It was later remodeled by Bramante.
Biblioteca Ambrosiana
Cardinal Borromeo's collection of over 30,000 manuscripts includes a 5th-century Iliad, early editions of Dante's Divine Comedy, and the Muratorian Canon (170 AD), the earliest authoritative list of biblical books.
Early Christian Baptistery
Beneath Milan's Duomo lie the ruins of former cathedrals and a 4th-century baptistery, where St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, baptized St. Augustine.