Milan is a great city for hedonists with excellent restaurants and high-end designer shops. However, if you are looking for something to appeal to your intellectual site, one of the best places to visit in Milan is the Leonardo da Vinci Science and Technology Museum.
Spreading over 40,000 square meters, it is the largest science museum in Italy. You can easily spend an entire day going through its seven sections: Materials, Transport, Energy, Communication, Leonardo da Vinci, Art & Science, New Frontiers and Science for young people. Housed in a beautiful old monastery the museum itself is relatively young: it was inaugurated in 1953 and the collections displayed there have been gathered since 1930s. However, its range of 15,000 objects representing the history of Italian science, technology and industry from the 19th century to the present is very impressive. The museum even has a fragment of moon rock from the last Apollo mission that was donated to the Italian government by President Nixon. Unfortunately, it is only displayed for special events and occasions.
One of my favorites in the museum is the S-506 submarine Enrico Toti, which traveled under the sea for 30 years during the Cold War before retiring to the museum. Visitors can get inside it to see the engine room, the sonars and the periscope and try to imagine what it was like to live on board for months at a time. The tour of the submarine is so popular that it is advised to book your visit at least one day in advance!
Another fascinating section of the museum that attracts a lot of visitors is the one dedicated to the genius of Leonardo Da Vinci. The Renaissance artist and scientist spent about 14 years in Milan and during that time he made numerous drawings of various machines, such as a hydraulic saw, a flying machine and the tank. For this exposition a group of experts studied Leonardo’s sketches and writings and reconstructed his models, in some cases interpreting and completing his designs.
You can spend hours looking at old trains, boats and planes, learning how robots work and many other geeky things that are entertaining for both kids and adults. You need at least three hours to see the main areas. Head there early in the morning to avoid the line at the tickets office and enjoy one of the nice places to visit in Milan !
Photos by: Alessandra Elle, Jakub Hałun, Mark B. Schlemmer.