Milan isn’t a cheap city. Of course, there is no match with Venice, but if you’re on a budget or you’re looking for a city to move into, think twice about it. Being the most European city among Italian ones has its pros and cons, you have tons of things to do and see, lots of working opportunities, but the cost of living is consequently higher than, for example, Rome. So, should you pay to enjoy the city? Nope! There are free places to see in Milan, and I can assure they’re cool too!
I’m not referring to things like seeing Duomo’s square or castrating the bull in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II by twirling around his crotch. I’m referring to museums, historical sites or galleries.
Ready? Let’s go!
That’s an art museum not many people knows about. It’s in the city center, not too far from the central station, and the main collection is composed of more than three hundred works among paintings and sculptures and about a hundred drawings and engravings, mainly from Italian contemporary or modern artists.
In addition to this, there are temporary exhibitions of young artists, changing through the year.
Website: La Permanente
How to reach it: underground M3 Repubblica/Turati; tram 1, 9, 33; railway; bus 43, 61, 94.
I really like this one. It was a former train factory, converted and requalified in an art gallery in 2004 thanks to the Pirelli Foundation. Space is enormous, and it now hosts several solo exhibitions from international contemporary artists, focusing mainly on site-specific projects, fusing themselves with the peculiar features of the place.
Don’t expect to find it on the common tourist path of the city, it’s in the suburbs but still in the Milan city limits.
Website: Pirelli HangarBicocca
How to reach it: it’s better if you take a look here.
M^C^O (read Macao) it’s a center for art, culture, and research founded by a collective of people (the Lavoratori dell’Arte e dello Spettacolo) in an abandoned building they occupied, a former slaughterhouse, now restored and made habitable with their help. Workshops, concerts, shows, exhibits, cinema discussions, these are what you can find there, almost daily.
Probably you’d expect a place like that in Berlin, but if you’re looking for something alternative to see, give it a try!
How to reach it: Molise boulevard, 68. Passante railway: Porta Vittoria stop; Bus: 90, 91, 93; tram: 12.
Galleria Carla Sozzani
One of the most famous and influential photography galleries in Italy, Galleria Carla Sozzani is in a former industrial building and hosts several renowned exhibitions throughout the year.
Like for the past editions, World Press Photo exhibition will uncover there its works from 30th April to 5th June 2016.
You can find this gallery in the Corso Como area, so if you like clubbing in some of the most famous discos in Milan, or spend a lot of money on drinks and food in fancy lounge bars and restaurants, that’s the area you should spend some time into.
Website: Galleria Carla Sozzani
How to reach it: underground: M2, M5 P.ta Garibaldi stop; tram: 10, 33 Rosales street; bus: 37 (Garibaldi M2 station), 43 (Gioia street, Vespucci street), 94 (Moscova M2).
Parco dell’Anfiteatro romano
Back in time, Romans conquered a big part of what we know now as Europe, and they came of course to Milan, probably not for a drink. The built instead, among the others, an amphitheater that was rediscovered only in 1931. That means that it isn’t intact, otherwise it would have been quite visible since it was big almost like the Colosseum in Rome, but what remains can still be seen just passing through a big door of a building.
You have to go to de Amicis street, 17, and enter the wooden door. There’s a cloister and then a park, a public park, where the ruins are.
Very little remains since it has been taking apart for centuries to build other things, but it’s still a proof of what Romans did more than two thousand years ago.
No dogs allowed in the park.
Website: Parco dell’Anfiteatro (please, don’t click on the ENG version of the site, I feel ashamed for that…)
How to reach it: underground: closest stops M2 S. Agostino or S. Ambrogio; bus: 3, 94, Colonne di San Lorenzo.
San Bernardino alle Ossa
Do you like bones? So you’ll like this church! Built originally in 1145, in 1210 a new room was constructed to hold the bones from the adjacent cemetery and centuries later, since the ossuary was gaining popularity, it suffered a restyle and bones and skulls were placed on the walls, to form some macabre decorations.
The ossuary is open Monday-Friday from 7:30 to 12:00 and to 13:00 to 18:00. On Saturday only the morning, on Sunday it’s 9-12.
How to reach it: you have to go to Carlo Giuseppe Merlo street, 4, for the ossuary. It’s about 600 meters walking from Duomo’s square.
It’s the second largest cemetery in Milan but for sure the most beautiful one. That’s because of the large amounts of chapels, sculptures, Greek temples, obelisks and many other original works that wealthy dynasties commissioned to famous Italian artists of their time.
At the entrance, you can see a big massive neo-medieval style building called Famedio, a sort of Hall-of-Fame containing many tombs from the most famous and illustrious citizens of Milan like actors, musicians, politics and writers, among the others.
It’s open every day, Monday excluded, from 8:00 to 18:00. The entrance is, of course, free, but I heard some people had to pay a small fee because of their camera. So just hide it while entering, to be sure!
Website: Cimitero Monumentale (Italian only)
How to reach it: bus 94 (P.ta Volta stop); tram: 2, 4, 33 (Farini stop), 10 (Monumentale stop) 12 e 14 (Bramante stop); underground: M2 (Garibaldi stop), M5 (Monumentale stop); railway: F.S. Garibaldi.
These are the free places you can see in Milan, always for free, til you go there on the right opening hours. Anyway, there are other museums or galleries to see without open your wallet but at a specific time and day, not always. Usually, on the first Sunday of the month, several museums are open to visits. You can see the list here, just scroll down to Milan, the list is remarkable!
If you’re interested in another point of view of Milan, take a look at what Valter wrote on his blog Tourist by chance! He’s an Italian blogger writing about the Bel Paese, so if you’re planning a visit to our country and need some apps to consult or you’re coming to our beloved Tuscany, his blog is the one to read!
Have you ever been to Milan? What did you enjoy the most? Tell me in the comment section!
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