La Scala Opera House (Teatro alla Scala), one of the world’s greatest opera houses, has hosted some of Italy’s most famous opera and other performances. Located in downtown Milan, this 18th-century theater and cultural landmark—magnificently restored in 2004—seats many of its 2,000 spectators in elegant boxes adorned with gold leaf and red velvet.
La Scala is an impressive sight whether or not you’re an opera or ballet aficionado. The building’s exterior may not be as remarkable as Milan’s Duomo, just a stone’s throw away, but a tour of its opulent interior is a must for any music lover. Along with the Duomo and Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, La Scala is one of the most popular attractions in Milan, so booking a skip-the-line tour is a must. Consider joining a small-group walking tour of Milan’s highlights with an expert guide to avoid long entry waits and to learn first-hand about the iconic sights’ fascinating history. If you would like to take a full tour of La Scala, you must visit with an official tour guide. These theater tours also include a visit to La Scala Museum, which houses a collection of costumes and set designs, musical instruments, portraits of actors and musicians, and an archive. Of course, nothing beats seeing a La Scala concert, ballet, or opera, including beloved works by Rossini, Puccini, and Verdi.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Without a performance ticket or guided theater tour, you can see the inside of the theater only by visiting La Scala Museum, which includes a quick peek into the auditorium through the third-level boxes when there is no rehearsal or performance.
- Purchase performance tickets in advance to ensure a seat.
- The theater and museum are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, though the guided theater tour is not.
- Large bags and backpacks must be checked into the cloakroom.
How to Get There
La Scala is located on Piazza della Scala in the heart of downtown Milan, just on the other side of the elegant Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II from the Duomo. The tram line 1 and yellow metro line both stop near the theater.
When to Get There
The La Scala performance calendar runs year-round. Theater tours are held on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday afternoons when there is no rehearsal or performance scheduled. The museum is open daily from 9am to 5:30pm with a few holiday and other closures; see the website for details.
The “Staircase Theater”
The word scala means “staircase” in Italian, but Teatro alla Scala was so named because it was built on the site where the Church of Santa Maria alla Scala once stood.