Pinacoteca di Brera

Top choice in Milan

Courtyard of Pinacoteca di Brera.

Located upstairs from one of Italy’s most prestigious art schools, this gallery houses Milan’s collection of Old Masters, much of it ‘lifted’ from Venice by Napoleon. Rubens, Goya and Van Dyck all have a place, but you're here for the Italians: Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and the Bellini brothers. Much of the work has tremendous emotional clout, most notably Mantegna's brutal Lamentation over the Dead Christ.

Audio guides are available in Italian, French, English, Spanish, German and Russian (€5). Highlights include the glass-walled restoration laboratory, where you can see conservators at work. Additionally, every third Thursday atmospheric musical concerts are held amid the artworks, and entrance to the museum is just €3. And if all that art-gazing has whet your appetite, there's also an elegant new bar/cafe for light snacks or cocktails.

Much anticipated is the opening of the beautifully restored 18th-century Palazzo Citterio, now scheduled for summer 2020 after suffering structural and bureaucratic setbacks. It will provide a new 6500-sq-metre home to Brera's modernist collection, as well as showcasing exciting temporary exhibitions in James Stirling's austere concrete bunker beneath the palace's frescoed halls.