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MADE IN Milan

ITALY’S NORTHERN POWERHOUSE, THE CITY OF MILAN IS CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH HIGH FASHION. BUT WHILE THE CITY IS BESIEGED BY SNAPPILY DRESSED FASHION WEEK ATTENDEES TWICE A YEAR, A MORE PERMANENT KIND OF STYLE LIES IN MILAN’S IMPRESSIVE ARCHITECTURE

Landing at Milan Malpensa airport, I’m looking forward to a few days exploring the city, and discovering more about one of its most famous former residents: the original Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci. Known simply as Leonardo to the Milanesi (he was the Madonna of the time), his influence is everywhere: streets and establishments borrow his name, and his likeness is carved into statues.

After a short transfer from the airport, I’m soon shoulder to shoulder with Pietro Magni’s 1872 sculpture of the famous polymath at the Piazza della Scala, outside the world-famous Teatro alla Scala opera house (teatroallascala.org). Perhaps surprisingly, given the artistic nature of its fame, La Scala’s exterior is rather austere, particularly under the overcast sky that clouds my visit. Inside, though, it’s a world of contrast, with a magnificent ceiling fresco, ornate gilded balconies and plush crimson seats. Tickets for performances are like gold dust, but even without them, you can get a taste of the opulence behind the building’s sober façade in the integrated museum. Open daily, entry costs €9 and, though you won’t be able to go into the main auditorium, you’ll be able to glimpse it and may even spot performers rehearsing on stage.

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