Well this is what we did: Milan in one day
Take the train from Varenna at Lake Como and get for ridiculously few money (compared to the totally overpriced German railway) in about 1 hour to Milan.
Take the underground and get off at the most famous place in Milan, the Cathedral. It is hardly avoidable to somehow come across the cathedral since a lot of streets are radiating from or circling the ancient city centre. Since il Duomo di Milano is also the largest cathedral in Italy (yes, St. Peter's in Rome isn't a cathedral) it was of course a must and our starting point. Inside you can admire the huge stained glass panes
or suck in the atmosphere
Outside the cathedral you can enjoy modern art, I especially liked this installation which is only a temporary one and probably gone by now. Gives me the feeling I'm sharing a secret with the lucky ones that could see it *hehe*. Anyway, 'Il muro del sale' (the salt wall) was created by Domenico Paladino and actually consists of salt. You might call it 'quick'salt, since some horses have already sunken into the muro del sale.
The cathedral's exterior is quite impressive, too, especially if you look for the more minute details. Aren't the ancient myths ghastly?
or at least bizarre?
Next to the cathedral is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II with its famous glass dome. It is said that the iron construction was the inspiration for the Eiffel tower.
The shopping gallery connects the cathedral with the Piazza della Scala, so you have to walk along the domed High Street, which is expensive but also fun since you can watch the people scuffling around or drinking coffee in one of the many cafes in Milan. We could even watch workers (artists?) repairing the mosaicked floor.
When you leave the gallery you will find a memorial for one of Milan's most famous citizens, Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo was actually called to Milan by the Duke of Milan in 1482 and was commissioned with many projects for the Duke; he stayed in Milan for the next 17 years until the Second Italian War when he moved to Venice.
The actual Scala theatre right opposite the memorial was quite unspectacular from the outside. I expected a more plush and lavish building. Maybe I can return one day and study the insides :)
Then walk slowly back to the next subway station but this time use the narrow alleys and you will find more curiosities, like this lingerie shop:
In any case you should go to Santa Maria delle Grazie, not only is it on the Unesco Heritage List, but it also houses the famous painting by Leonardo, the Last Supper. If you haven't pre-booked a visit you will not be able to actually watch the painting, but you can at least say that you were very very close to it. It is in the refectory on the left-hand side of the church and Dominican convent, which is precisely cut off from my photo.
And this is what you will probably miss (at least we did):
Now that you are tired and exhausted spend some time in 10 Corso Como, a trendy shopping centre with an even more trendy webpage (so click on it) and a beautiful café where you can relax in a zen-like style. They have a fantastic asssortment of Asian tea, so you really feel zen-ish.
If you skip the lunch and coffee you might arrive just in time at the Castello Sforzesco to visit one of the museums. If they are just closing you will still get some pretty nice impressions.
This was a fun poster from an exhibition (in a vegetarian sort of way); tormented animals, pupils, patients, and even nature give their tormentors a taste of their own medicine. Pigs are slaughtering humans, horses are forcing their riders to jump over fences ...
Don't miss the Castello Sforzesco Fountain just in front of the entrance:
Hungry now? Try the little restaurant Rosmarino in Viale Pasubio 16; a nice and informal place with a vegan buffet and free tea and water. Feel free to enjoy a glass of wine before you have to head back to the railway station for the last train back to Varenna :)