Milan is the capital of Lombardy region, and the second most populous city in Italy after Rome. It is the leading financial centre and the most prosperous manufacturing and commercial city of Italy.
In the Renaissanse period, Milan was a large city with extensive territory, and it was rich. Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan from 1494 to 1499, made Milan the most splendid not only in Italy but in Europe , with lavish but enlightened patronage of artists and scholars. Leonardo da Vinci and the architect Donato Bramante were among the many artists, poets, and musicians who gathered in Milan. Ludovico presided over the final and most productive stage of the Milanese Renaissance, and he is probably best known as the man who commissioned The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.
Ludovico also sponsored extensive work in civil and military engineering, such as canals and fortifications.
One of the main tourist attraction of Milan is the Castello Sforzesco (Sforza Castle) which was built by Ludovico’s father, Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, on the remnants of a 14th-century fortification. Extensively rebuilt in 1891–1905, it now houses several of the city's museums and art collections.
The castle has a quadrangular plan, site across the city's walls. The wall which once faced the countryside north to Milan has square towers and has an ogival gate. This was once accessed through a drawbridge.
The central tower of the castle is dedicated to King Umberto I, who was assassinated 5 years earlier.The central tower is designed and decorated by the sculptor and architect Filarete, so the tower is named after him, Torre del Filarete.
Just a few minutes walk from the Milan Duomo, there is a square called Piazza Mercanti or Market Square. The square dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries and was once the commercial centre of the city. Various traders, such as bakers, cobblers, and tailors would conduct their business here.
Adjacent to the Castello Sforzesco there is large park named Sempione Park. It has an overall area of 38 hectares, designed by the architect Emilio Alemagna. The park is nicely laid out in a landscape style with winding paths, open grassy areas, tall trees and a picturesque bridge across a central pond.
The Sempione Park was established in the 17th century filled with oak and chestnut trees as well as exotic animals. After the Spaniards conquered Milan, the park was converted to crops. Later under Napoleon's rule, the park was once again converted to its original use and given back to the locals.
After World War 2, a real estate company lobbied for the conversion of the Park to residential buildings. However, a strong opposition from the local population allowed this park to be preserved the way we see it today.