Despite Milan’s reputation as the center of the fashion universe, the capital of Italy has plenty of (non-Gucci related) attractions for Cheapos to explore. Take, for instance, the Sforza Castle, or the “Castello Szforesco,” as it is known in Italian.
This impressive structure was built by the Sforza family in the 14th century to replace the Visconti Castle after it was destroyed. The Sforza castle played an important role in the history of Milan, serving as a fortress and barracks during various military confrontations. Napoleon seized the castle in May 1776 and it remained under French rule until 1799. The castle was soon back in French hands, when Napoleon defeated the then-ruling Austrian army. The castle was restored after the unification of Italy in 1861, with the help of the renowned architect Luca Beltrami.
Today the castle is best known for the civic museums it houses. Among the items on display are Michelangelo’s last sculpture, the Rondanini Pieta, and da Vinci’s Codex Trivulzianus manuscript. Besides the museums and its stately towers, the castello boasts a beautiful garden and the original moat that surrounded medieval Milan.
You can browse the castle grounds for free, though museum admission costs €3. Afraid you can’t afford to glimpse the works of your favorite Renaissance artists? Never fear: if you stop by between 4:30 pm and 5 pm (between 2 pm and 5:30 pm on Fridays), you’ll get into the castle museums liberare! (Who says being late is always bad?)
The Castello Szforesco is open daily from 7 am to 6 pm in winter, and 7 am to 7 pm in summer. Take the MM1 Cadorna to Cairoli or the MM2 Cadorna to Lanza. Visit the castle’s official site for more info.