High walls of Arena Civica

©Stephanie Ong/Lonely Planet

The arena was Napoleon’s mini-colosseum, which he opened in flamboyant style with a chariot race in 1807. Built by Luigi Canonica, its design allowed it to be flooded with water from nearby canals in order to stage mock sea battles. Now it hosts mainly community sports matches and the occasional music concert, along with the finishing leg of the Stramilano marathon, which takes place at the end of March.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Milan attractions

1. Parco Sempione

0.15 MILES

Situated behind Castello Sforzesco, Parco Sempione was once the preserve of hunting Sforza dukes. Then Napoleon came to town and set about landscaping…

2. Arco della Pace


Situated at the northwestern edge of Parco Sempione is Napoleon's 25m-high triumphal arch. Designed by Luigi Cagnola in 1807, it echoes Paris' Arc de…

3. Torre Branca

0.31 MILES

Giò Ponti's spindly 1933 steel tower (built in two months flat for a Triennale exhibition) provides a fantastic 108m-high viewing platform over Parco…

4. Basilica di San Simpliciano

0.31 MILES

San Simpliciano is one St Ambrose's four Milanese churches, built on a paleo-Christian cemetery with a red-brick Romanesque wrapping. Martyrs Sisinio,…

5. Triennale di Milano

0.32 MILES

Italy’s first Triennale took place in 1923 in Monza. It aimed to promote Italian design and applied arts, and its success led to the construction of…

6. Castello Sforzesco

0.39 MILES

Originally a Visconti fortress, this iconic red-brick castle was later home to the mighty Sforza dynasty, who ruled Renaissance Milan. The castle's…

7. Studio Museo Achille Castiglioni

0.41 MILES

Architect, designer and teacher Achille Castiglioni was one of Italy’s most influential 20th-century thinkers. This is the studio where he worked until…

8. Fondazione Feltrinelli

0.51 MILES

Herzog & de Meuron’s first public buildings in Italy, these two elongated, slanted structures look reminiscent of greenhouses. The Feltrinelli Foundation,…