One of the best ways to discover Milan, the Italian capital of fashion and history, is to take a walking tour. Among the dozens of walking tours you can easily find online, perhaps you would like to explore Milan on your own. Read on for a comprehensive and original itinerary to discover the most famous attractions in Milan.
One of the best ways to start exploring Milan in a less crowded area, is at Brera District in the historical core of the city. This area was once predominantly populated by artists and bohemians. Nowadays, the narrow streets around the Brera Academy and the Corriere della Sera headquarters have several boutiques of ladies apparel, curiosity shops, bric-à-brac and antique shops. Brera district is the home of the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, the Brera Art Gallery, and many boutiques. This is one of the rare quiet areas of Milan that are perfect for taking a walk through narrow streets lined with old, small, yet pleasant apartment buildings. One of the most important building in this area is the Pinacoteca di Brera - the main public gallery housing the foremost Italian paintings.
Churches - Santa Maria del Carmine & Santa Maria delle Grazie
Though Milan has always been famous for having massive shopping centres and busy streets, the city has a lot of history, religion, and culture to see and experience. One of the must-dos here is to visit a church. Some of the most well-known churches in the city are the church of Santa Maria del Carmine and Saint Mary of the Graces. Located between the Brera district and the Castello Sforzesco, Santa Maria del Carmine Church dates back to the 15th century as the face of Lombard Gothic architecture. Another must-see church is the Santa Maria delle Grazie - one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Milan. In Santa Maria delle Grazie, you can find its most important artwork on the wall: the mural of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Taking photos without flash is often allowed in churches in Milan unless there’s a ‘no photo’ sign at the entrance. So pay attention for this!
Built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, this iconic red-brick castle was home to the mighty Sforza dynasty. This castle is massive, and there are many areas to enter and explore including 18 different art galleries, libraries, and museums in dozens of rooms surrounded by the huge defence walls, courtyards, towers, and battlements. The defences were designed by the famous Leonardo da Vinci. Nowadays, you can find some of his works in the various museums located within the castle. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 AM to 5.30 PM except for national holidays. The last entrance is at 5 PM. There is free entrance every Tuesday after 2PM, Wednesday and Sunday one hour before closing time.
The main squares - Merchants Square, Exchange Square, Cathedral Square
Located between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza Cordusio, Piazza Mercanti is a central city square in Milan, and the old heart of the city. Another nearby square to explore is Piazza Affari (Business Square) that houses Palazzo delle Borse - the stock Exchange Palace, or the seat of the Italian stock exchange as its name claims. Last but not least, the most famous and crowded area of Milan, you must not leave out, is the Cathedral Square known as Piazza del Duomo. Read on to see why Piazza del Duomo is attracting thousands of tourists daily.
The Milan Cathedral, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and the Vittorio Emanuele II Statue
Piazza del Duomo is the most important historical, artistic, and cultural centre in Milan. Remaining crucial in terms of both geographical and social senses, it is the home to the Milan Cathedral (read more via the link below), the biggest and oldest shopping mall of Milan - Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and the monument to King Vittorio Emanuele II. Here you can also find the old seat of the Italian government at the Royal Palace of Milan, which remains an important cultural centre in the city nowadays. Facing the West side of the Milan Cathedral is Palazzo Carminati - the central plaza of Milan.
You will never get bored of Milan!
This recommended itinerary takes you only 1 day to go through all the listed places as it is easy to explore Milan on foot. If you have a lot of time to see Milan, don’t leave out other places like the Monumento a Sandro Pertini, the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and the Cadorna. There is a lot more to see in Milan, including the hidden spots that locals love. If you want to avoid the touristy places like me and see more of the Italian culture and religion, explore Milan with me through the Navigli district, Basilicas Park, and the church of San Vittore al Corpo.
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