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Paris, Rome, Venice, and Barcelona are among the top-visited destinations in Europe. Beyond the Old World, New York City, Toronto and Whistler await shopping, dining and skiing enthusiasts, as well as businessmen and students. Quality accommodation is always in demand, and nowadays travellers have the freedom to choose not only hotels, but also apartment rentals.
Conveniently located and fully furnished, apartments of Sweet Home Abroad are excellently suited for short-term rentals and could be your next great vacation! All apartments are meant for travellers looking for comfort and independence regardless of their activities of interest. Beach lovers could opt for an apartment rental in Israel or rent a villa in Spain. Lovers of outdoor winter activities like skiing and snowboarding will find Whistler, located in Canada, a great destination: the co-host of Winter Olympic Games in 2010, Whistler is perfectly equipped to provide you with great skiing and riding trails, impeccable customer service and top-notch long-term accommodation. History and culture buffs will enjoy a great selection of accommodation we offer in Paris, Prague, Madrid, and, of course, Barcelona.
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Milan sights

Duomo Cathedral

The Duomo Cathedral is the symbol of Milan - impressive, imposing, and strikingly beautiful. It took an extremely long time to build: the construction started in 1386 and dragged on for nearly five (!) centuries. Minor work continues even today, as restoration projects are undertaken every few years, last of which was completed in 2007. Perhaps the Duomo owes its unique beauty to 500 years it took to build, because the cathedral heavily borrows from a lot of styles and architecture traditions.

The structure is nothing but elaborate: over 2000 statues can be seen on the outside of the cathedral, including the locals' favourite – a copper statue of Madonnina (1774), the patron of Milan, placed on the tallest Duomo spire. Before the construction of the Pirelli Tower in Milan the Madonnina spire at its 108 meters was the tallest structure in the city. A smaller replica had been placed atop the Pirelli Tower at the height of 127 meters. Tradition demands that no other building in Milan is allowed to grow taller than Madonnina (either one).

There are 135 spires and pointy pinnacles supported by flying buttresses on the Duomo cathedral. It feels like if you touched a spire it would prick your finger. A lift can take you up to the roof to appreciate the spires and the statues further. The view itself is quite superb; the Alps may be visible from afar on a clear day.

The interior of the Duomo cathedral is no less staggering. There are 5 aisles that are supported by 52 pillars, each corresponding to a week of the year. Look around and you will see countless statues of saints, lining up on the walls and all the way up to the cross vaults of the ceiling. The nave is the highest Gothic nave among all completed Gothic churches in the world.

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http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=385

La Scala Opera

La Scala opera house is referred to as Teatro all Scala in Italian. It is a mecca for opera lovers, for whom the 7th of December – the opening performance of a season – marks the day of the highest significance. Much can be said about the excellence of performers who step up on the grand La Scala stage. Going to a performance there while in Milan is a must, if you enjoy opera even just a little bit.

La Scala was named after a 14th-century church that stood on its spot, called Santa Maria della Scala. The church was torn down at the end of the 18th century (1776) to make way for a new opera house, as Milan was in dire need of one after Palazzo Reale had been damaged in a fire. The new opera house was designed by Giuseppe Piermarini and opened its doors on August 3rd, 1778. The first opera performed in La Scalla was "Europa Riconosciuta", written by Antonio Salieri. Since then the greatest masters, including Verdi, held the premieres of their operas there.

The interior and layout of the opera house as seen today was introduced in 1907, when La Scala was renovated. Since then, La Scala has been able to seat 2800 spectators. The opera house was completely destroyed in 1943 in a World War II bombing, but was rebuilt in 3 years and reopened in 1946. The most recent architectural development that La Scala underwent was a major two-years-long renovation that was completed in 2004 by Mario Botta. It is no coincidence that La Scala reopened on December 7th, 2004, with "Europa Riconosciuta".

Article address:
http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=386

Sforza Castle

The Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco) is the pride of Milan and one of its key monuments. Reserved and majestic, it had witnessed numerous wars, revolutions and the long history of an ancient city. Initially built as a fortress in the 4th century by Duke Visconti, it had been destroyed after the declaration of the Golden Ambrosian Republic and rebuilt in the 15th century under Francesco Sforza, the new ruler of Milan. The appearance of the castle walls influenced the look of the Moscow Kremlin.

During the Sforza rule the castle had become one of the most luxurious ducal palaces in Italy. Some wall paintings are done by Leonardo da Vinci - his frescoes, now restored, can be seen in the ducal chambers. For many centuries Castello Sforzesco had been changing hands, going through decay and renaissance over and over again. During Napoleon's rule it had barely escaped the fate of Bastille, but the French emperor not only spared the castle, but partially rebuilt it too.

The adjacent park Sempione was added in 1893. This is the largest public park in Milan. In one of its nooks stands the famous Peace Arch, a granite arch of triumph, erected at the beginning of the 19th century by Napoleon to commemorate his victories in the Appenine Peninsula.

A full reconstruction of the Sforza castle was carried out in 1905. Bombings of the Second World War had not spared the ancient walls, but in 1956 the castle was once again returned to its splendid appearance that we see today. At present, the Sforza castle houses several museums: the Museum of Ancient Art; the ancient Egypt and prehistoric branches of the Museum of Archaeology; the collection of applied arts and the musical instruments museum; and, last but not least, the Pinacoteca that has 230 masterpieces of art, among which you will find works by Italian masters Filippino Lippi, Giovanni Bellini, Mantegna, Antonello da Messina and many more. The castle also holds the last unfinished sculpture group by Michelangelo, "Pieta Rondanini".

The Sforza castle is open to visitors from 7 am to 6 pm (winter) and from 7 am to 7 pm (summer). The museums are open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5:30 pm (last admission - 5 pm). The ticket costs 3€.

Article address:
http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=525

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The gallery connecting the Duomo square in Milan with the La Scala Opera square, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the oldest shopping passage in the world. It received its name from Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, the first king of the united Italian kingdom.

Built in 1877 by the architect Giuseppe Mengoni, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is cross-shaped with an octagon in the centre. The interior is crowned by a majestic glass dome, and the passage itself is 197 meters long and 47 meters high. Walls and floors are covered with coloured stone mosaics; the tiled panels in the central octagon symbolize four continents - Europe, Asia, Africa and America. The panels at the four entrances portray the coat of arms of four Italian cities - Milan, Rome, Florence and Torino. The Torino coat of arms and the bull depicted on it are especially beloved among tourists: it is said that stepping on the bull and turning around for a bit will bring the visitor happiness and wealth.

Today the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is not only a major touristic sight in Milan, but also a luxurious shopping mall, boasting the presence of all prestigious Italian brands, famous restaurants and cafГ©s, holding regular events, concerts and conferences.

Article address:
http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=526

Pinacoteca di Brera

Pinacoteca di Brera is one of the most influential art galleries in Milan and in Italy, located in a baroque-style palazzo built in the 17th century. The Milan Academy of Arts is also housed here. This beautiful building had belonged to Jesuit college at some point, and in 1809 Napoleon, after conquering Milan, established an educational body for the students of the Academy of Arts here. In 1882 Pinacoteca di Brera was separated from the Academy and turned into an art gallery.

38 rooms of the palazzo display priceless art pieces from the masters of Italian paining of 15th-19th centuries. There are masterpieces by Rafael, Mantegna, Giovanni Bellini, Tintoretto, Donato Bramante, Vincenzo Foppa, Piero della Francesca, Caravaggio, Modigliani. Two rooms are dedicated to the great Flemish artists - Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, and one room is devoted to the impressionists of the 20th century.

The Brera Art Gallery is open to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday, 8:30 am to 7:15 pm (last admission - 6:40 pm), each ticket costs 6€.

Article address:
http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=527

Pinacoteca Ambrosiana

Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, the Ambrosian art gallery, is one of the largest art museums in Milan. In 1618 cardinal Federico Borromei donated ancient manuscripts, books and 250 paintings to the gallery, among which were not only copies, but also priceless originals. Today, Ambrosiana boasts an extensive collection of art of the 15-19th centuries, housed on two floors in 24 rooms.

Here you can see the unique works by Botticelli, Titian, Leonardo da Vinci and his best pupil Bernardino Luini, sketches by Rafael for the Vatican fresco "The School of Athens". Ambrosiana houses a truly priceless copy of Da Vinci's "Last Supper", painted by Vespino; "Basket of Fruit" by Caravaggio which is recognized as the first still life in the history of paining; "Bouquet" painted by Jan Brueghel the Elder, the son of Pieter Brueghel.

Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Article address:
http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=528

Pirelli Tower

The Pirelli tower is a well-known skyscraper in Milan, the tallest structure in the city (only the spires of Duomo cathedral come close) and the headquarters of the region of Lombardy, of which Milan is the capital. As its name suggests, its construction was sponsored by Pirelli, an Italian tire manufacturer, in 1950s. The Pirelli tower's sleek and elegant design does not at all resemble a standard block structure of the majority of other skyscrapers in the world, which earned the tower high praise among renowned urban architects. The Pirelli tower is also associated with a tragic accident of 2002, when a plane low on fuel crashed into the building, taking the lives of three people, including the pilot. This does not repel visitors from touring the Pirelli skyscraper, as it is open to public from time to time.

Article address:
http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=399

Milano Centrale Train Station

The central train station of Milan, Milano Centrale, built by the architect Ulisse Stacchini, is not only the largest train station in Europe, but also a major art monument of the Art Deco period. This grandiose structure had been erected to replace an old station that could no longer withhold the growing number of passengers passing through. It took 20 years to build, and Milano Centrale was opened in 1931. Its unusual metal-and-glass dome that crowns the station has the square area of 66 sq. meters and the length of 341 meters.

The Centrale train station has 24 platforms, with 600 trains with over 320 000 passengers departing daily. Numerous bus and tram lines, two metro lines, airport bus stops are located next to the terminal.

Article address:
http://www.sweethomeabroad.com/article.php?obj_id=529

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