East Centro Walking Tour, Milan (Self Guided)

Milan is a city steeped in history, but also a strategic economic center for Italy, as well as an international fashion hub. Thousands of tourists are attracted to the city's striking historic sites, as well as designer shops and other great places to explore. Take this tour and visit the main sites in Milan's Centro Storico.
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East Centro Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: East Centro Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Milan (See other walking tours in Milan)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 km
Author: alexei
1
The Gallery of Modern Art

1) The Gallery of Modern Art

Located at the center of Milano in a large Neo-classical villa known as the Villa Reale, is Milan's Civica Galleria d'Arte Moderna containing many superb works of art. This extravagant palazzo houses the modern collection in the 19th century sense. Masterpieces of Lombardians and famous Italian painters, following the style of French artists, are displayed in the stores. Works of lesser-known Italian artists are also on display in this museum.

Designed by architect Leopold Pollak upon the request of the Count Barbiano di Belgioioso in 1790, the Civica Galleria d'Arte Moderna was once the official residence of Napoleon III. He lived there with his stepson, Eugene de Beauharnais. He used this lovely villa as his summer home. The gallery now hosts several cultural institutions and houses a vast collection of sculptures and paintings from the 18th Century Neo Classical Milanese paintings to the 19th century art from Lombardy. Many paintings of famous artists like De Pisis, Modigliani, futurists Balla and Boccioni, Boldini, Bonnard, Corot, Mancini, Manet, Sisley, Spadini and Toulouse are on display here.

A separate section on the first floor is dedicated for the works of Italian sculptor Museo Marino Marini. His remarkable works in terracotta, bronze, and graphic designs are proudly displayed here. The second floor consists of The Raccolta Grassi donated to the City Council in 1956 and it focuses on late 19th and early 20th century Italian and French art and includes numerous important works by the Tuscan `Macchiaioli`. The upper floors displays works of 20th-century sculptor Marino Marini.

Civica Galleria d`Arte Moderna is a paradise for the art lovers. Whether you are an art lover or not, the Civica Galleria d`Arte Moderna is a must see as it fits to the aesthetic sense of many individuals.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Sunday 9 am - 5.30 pm.
2
Giardini pubblici Indro Montanelli

2) Giardini pubblici Indro Montanelli (must see)

Giardini pubblici Indro Montanelli is a magnificent garden complex that offers shelter from the noisy activities of the city. Covering more than 170,000 sqm between the Venice Door and the streets of Palestro and Manin, it is an ideal place to relax and enjoy the views, people and culture. The gardens are the first nominated public park in Milan, sharing the same name as the famous journalist and writer Indro Montanelli. An old villa and a museum on the gardens’ premises make the gardens one of the most sought after public resort in Milan.

The gardens were planned by Giuseppe Piermarini, an 18th-century architect who also designed La Scala and Palazzo Reale. Later the gardens were enlarged and decorated with amusing false rocks. Emilio Alemagna added natural elements such as waterfalls and rocky outcrops in the park for the 1871 World Fair.

The park also has a bar with outdoor tables and a small train for children. Some gardens on the other side of Via Palestro are open only to children accompanied by adults. Kids also love this park because of lush green grass all around and the presence of Hoepli Planetarium and the Museo di Storia Naturale. It's an excellent place to go for a walk or for a picnic during the day and enjoy several music/art events during the night time.

Why You Should Visit:
If you're tired of strolling through Milan, here is the perfect place to relax in the shade, even during the hottest days.
3
Via della Spiga

3) Via della Spiga

Via della Spiga is one of the chicest shopping areas of Milan, situated in the north-east of the deluxe Quadrilatero della Moda district along with Corso Venezia, Via Monte Napoleone, Via Sant’Andrea and Via Manzoni. The street is famous for its sophisticated elegance manifested in stylish clothing, shoes, handbags and other accessories put on sale. Among the famous brands presented here are Dolce & Gabanna, Sergio Rossi, Tod’s, Bulgari, Gianfranco Ferre, etc. to mention but a few. At #2 is the enormous David Chipperfield designer boutique. #23 is reserved to Krizia who introduced a mini skirt and knitted dresses to the world's fashion. At #28 there is a vintage space and the store for women accessories is found at #26. Roberto Cavalli, a Florentine designer, renowned for its animal print, architectural and geometric motifs sweaters and dresses much loved by the youth, has opened a new store at #42. The Moschino brand and its wicked style are also part of the streetscape. A true paradise for fashionistas, this street is well worth spending one's time and, sure enough, money!
4
San Francesco di Paola

4) San Francesco di Paola

San Francesco di Paola is a church that lies in the heart of the richest and the most grandiose part of Milan. It was named after Paola who was the patron Saint of the Church.

In 1623, a huge fire destroyed the oratory of Sant’Anastasia. A new church known as church of San Francesco di Paola was constructed by the architect Marco Bianchi on these ruins. Construction work started in 1728 and it was opened for the devotees in 1735. A well known architect Alemagna concluded the church in 1891 and refined the facade as well. San Francesco di Paola is one of the best examples of baroque and rococo style in Milan.

Nowadays, all that is left of the original is a structure with a single nave. The external facade is characterized by alternating concave and convex surfaces embellished with repeatedly placed coats of arms and the word “Charitas”. The interior of the church is richly decorated in marble and gilt in typical baroque and rococo style. A large main altar, constructed by Giuseppe Buzzi between 1749 and 1753, having a neoclassic fresco representing “The glory of San Francesco di Paola”, stands in the centre.

In 1839, a new plan for the facade of the church was proposed by the architect Carlo Amati. This design was in a neoclassic style and it became an object of discussion. This design was then rejected due to criticism by Carlo Cattaneo who mentioned the clear differences between the style proposed and the style of the existing church.

The church displays a divine sense of irony. Its attractive baroque facade has concave and convex forms. Inside is a painting in the vault by Carlo Maria Giudici showing the glory of San Francesco di Paola. It is one of the best churches of the city of Milan and rightly deserves your time.
5
Via Monte Napoleone

5) Via Monte Napoleone (must see)

Nicknamed ‘Montenapo’ by the Milanese, this stylish and luxurious street in Milan is famous for its ready-to-wear clothes and jewelry shops. Many distinguished Italian fashion designers, as well as designers from all over the world, have their exquisite boutiques and stores in this most significant street of the Milan Fashion District. Also known as the 'Quadrilatero della moda', it houses many exclusive Italian shoe stores and the headquarters, major offices or large emporia of several of the world's top fashion.

Milan, one of the major fashion capitals in the world, was renovated in the Neoclassical style at the beginning of the 19th century. Upper class used to live here in palaces. Roman city walls erected by Emperor Maximian can also be seen at places in this street. After World War II, Monte Napoleone became one of the foremost fashion streets similar to other world’s famous streets like Bond Street or Oxford Street in London and Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré in Paris.

Its name dates back to 1804 at the peak of the Napoleonic era. Since Milan was always a centre of art and pleasure, foreigners used to gather into the city. They not only discussed business but also visited Milan as being a wealthy city dedicated to art and pleasure. With its narrow side streets branching off, Via Monte Napoleone is one of the most elegant streets in Milan, and one of the most stylish in Europe.

Why You Should Visit:
The fancy part of Milan – fun to browse (temptation is nigh!), and even more fun to people watch.
The people working here will treat you like a King or Queen regardless if you buy anything or not.

Tip:
Walking the length of Via Monte Napoleone is definitely worth it. You can walk from it to La Scala in about 10 minutes or you can get to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and the Galleria for more shopping.
6
Museo Bagatti Valsecchi

6) Museo Bagatti Valsecchi (must see)

Situated in the Montenapoleone district of Milan, Palazzo Bagatti Valsecchi is originally a private museum established by two brothers – Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi, which is currently open to the public since 1994. The display includes Italian Renaissance (14th-16th century) artifacts as well as the property itself. The museum is also involved in research work and organizes courses, seminars and conferences. Its publications focus on various aspects of 19th-century culture. Those interested in European Renaissance weapons, armor, clocks, textiles, tapestries and various instruments (both scientific and musical) should make sure to visit this museum.

Why You Should Visit:
If you want to get an idea of what your trip in Milan would have been like in the 1500s, come here to check out an incredible range of art.
This is among the most important and best preserved historic house museums in Europe – a great place to stimulate one's imagination!

Tip:
The audio guide is a must when visiting, as it explains a lot, including how the family actually lived in the home. Guided tours also available – check the museum website (under "Activities").

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 1–5:45pm
7
Casa Fontana-Silvestri

7) Casa Fontana-Silvestri

Casa Fontana-Silvestri, one of the few Renaissance buildings present in Milan, is a classic house of the 15th Century. Though the main structure dates back to the 12th century, its present form is due to a systematic amendment made at the end of the 14th century, in a style that combines Renaissance and Gothic elements.

The frontage of this Milanese building is quite unadorned but it does have an interesting wall painting below the roof space. The roof over the arch-shaped windows is protruding. Being one of the oldest homes in the city and declared by some scholars to be the effort of Bramante, it features elements by both Bramante and Bramantino. Inside, there is a stylish courtyard with a porch. The facade has ornamental cotto (baked clay) window frames and there are scowling masks above the stone door. Bramante is thought to have designed the cotto decorations present on the facade. The facade was originally decorated with paintings done in water color on wet plasters, known as frescos. Most of these painting have, however, disappeared and just a few remnants are now visible under the ornamental molding around the wall (cornice).

Many stately buildings covering the architecture styles from Renaissance to Art Nouveau, run all along the Corso Venezia, one of Milan's most prominent streets. Casa Fontana-Silvestri is one of the most beautiful houses on Corso Venezia and is worth spending your time.
8
San Babila

8) San Babila

San Babila is a church once considered the third most important in Milan, the other two being Duomo and the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio. It is located on the Piazza San Babila in the centre of Milan.

A church was built in the 4th century at the site of a Roman temple. The nature and the origins of this structure are unclear. The church was reconstructed in the 9th century and was further prolonged with the addition of a frontal section and a new Baroque façade in the 16th century.

The whole church was renovated in the 19th century with the aim of restoring the Medieval Basilica. The old bell tower which was destroyed in the 16th century was replaced with the new one. Further renovations in the 19th and 20th centuries resulted in the creation of today’s Neo-Romanesque design. An image of the Madonna which is highly respected by the Milanese, is found in the right aisle of the church. The big fountain in the middle of Piazza San Babila is donated to the town by Fier Milano, the Milan Exhibitions authority, in 1997.

Piazza San Babila was renowned as a famous meeting point for the wealthy Milanese. Still the presence of a few theaters reminds us of those days but the real people who used to come here now hardly show into such crowded surroundings.

The church dedicated to Saint Babila was restored at the beginning of the 20th century, an example of "rebuild-it-as-it-might-have-looked" approach. It is one of the most outstanding churches in Milan which carries the characteristics of the architectural style from this period.
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Corso Vittorio Emanuele II

9) Corso Vittorio Emanuele II (must see)

Corso Vittorio Emanuele is a popular shopping street lined on both sides with boutiques selling clothes and accessories, situated behind the Milan Cathedral and connecting Piazza Duomo with Piazza San Babila. Named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of unified Italy, this is the second largest pedestrian area in downtown Milan, ideal for shopping and passing time away. Extending from its side are a number of small covered shopping galleries emerged as a result of post-war renovations. Other than luxurious shops offering latest collections of Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada and other top brands, the passage houses a number of cinemas, restaurants and cafes equally worthy of one's time and money.

Why You Should Visit:
If you want a quick round through the shops, this is one of the best – very good looking and classy, even for Milan standards! It has really been spruced up for Expo 2015.
10
San Bernardino alle Ossa

10) San Bernardino alle Ossa (must see)

San Bernardino alle Ossa is a church in Milan famous for its adjoining ossuary which is a small chapel decorated with numerous human skulls and bones. The interior has an octagonal plan with Baroque-style decorations and paintings from the 16th to 18th centuries.

The church is comprised of a single-roomed chapel whose walls are full of cages holding thousands and thousands of bones. Each cage is stacked with skulls as well as arm and leg bones. Everything from chandeliers to lamp has been made using human bones. The walls between the cages are also decorated with the bones. A special box containing the skulls of people that were beheaded can be seen over the big back doors. The reason for their being beheaded is unknown to this day.

The ceiling exhibits pictures of angels and clouds on a sky-blue background on a small frescoed dome. Frescoes on the rounded ceiling of the chapel are layered in the corners giving it a unique 3D effect. Andrea Biffi rebuilt the sanctuary in 1679 while the architect Carlo Giuseppe Merlo designed the entrance hall. The king of Portugal, Giovanni, appreciated the building so much that he ordered an exact copy in Lisbon.

Why You Should Visit:
Not many churches out there are decorated with thousands of human bones – in Rococo style, at that!
For those with a macabre side or an interest in medieval Christianity, you have to see this place in the middle of urban Milan.

Tip:
You can take photos in here but are not allowed to use flash... or talk.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8am-6pm; Sat: 9:30am-6pm; Sun: 9:30am-12pm (Ossuary closed)
Free admission, but your shoulder must be covered and they ask for an €1 donation per person for upkeep
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
Velasca Tower

11) Velasca Tower

Velasca Tower is a skyscraper in Milan located in the Square south of the Duomo in Milan. Designed and built between 1956 and 1958 by the Società Generale Immobiliare. Situated in a residential area once destroyed by Anglo-American bombing in 1943 and stands out in the cityscape, which has become one of the best known symbols.
12
San Nazaro in Brolo

12) San Nazaro in Brolo

St. Nazaro Church is one of the oldest and magnificent churches in Milan. Originally founded in the 4th Century and built by St Ambrose, this basilica was dedicated to the Apostles to whom it owes its other name: Basilica Apostolorum. It dates back to the year 382 and has preserved some relics from the apostles. This famous monument is situated on one of the radial roads which lead from the city centre towards the outskirts. In 1075, a fire broke out and destroyed the church. In 1571, the demolished building was reconstructed as per the desire of Carlo Borromeo. During the next few centuries, the church underwent many structural changes and was then again restored. The current basilica is the work of Enrico Villa which lasted from 1946 to 1963. Many remnants of archaeology and works of art including inscriptions from the 5th Century to Renaissance and Neoclassical period can be seen here.

In Constantinople, a distinct feature of the Church of the Holy Apostles, was the presence of the church’s plan on the Greek cross with apses on the arms. San Nazaro has been built following this feature. Relics of the Apostles were housed under the altar. A new apse was created in 397 after the discovery of the body of the St. Nazarus. Marbles and other items of decoration for the shrine and the church were donated by Serena, niece of emperor Theodosius I. The interior has been intentionally made simple according to the wishes of the designers and owners and not due to lack of funding.

The roof of the church was originally in timber beams, and in the Middle Ages it was replaced by vaulted roof. During the same period, the dome above the crossing was also added. The octagonal-plan chapel finishes in a dome whose sides rise from the square base.

St. Nazaro Church is an important example of Palaeo Christian art in Milan. Fascinating for the artworks preserved inside and for its history, this church is well worth visiting.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Milan, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Milan

Create Your Own Walk in Milan

Creating your own self-guided walk in Milan is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Centro Museums and Galleries

Centro Museums and Galleries

Milan is not only the business and fashion center of Italy, it also a cultural center. The city of Milan offers numerous cultural activities, as well as countless art galleries and museums that exhibit some of the world's most famous and imposing artworks and artifacts. Most of these cultural centers are located in the very heart of Milan and within a pleasant walk.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 km
Shopping Streets and Spots

Shopping Streets and Spots

Milan is a world-renown fashion and design capital. Here, you can find most of the world's top fashion brands, from Gucci, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana to Levi's and Diesel. Fashion is the second religion in Milan and this self-guided tour will take you to the worship places of the fashionistas and shopaholics.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 km
City Orientation Walking Tour

City Orientation Walking Tour

Throughout its 2,000+ year-long history Milan has accumulated an impressive collection of architectural monuments, thanks to some of the best artists and architects this world had ever seen who blessed the city with their presence. Masterpieces like the Gothic Duomo di Milano cathedral and the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent, housing Leonardo da Vinci’s mural “The Last Supper,” vividly...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.9 km
Religious Sights Walking Tour

Religious Sights Walking Tour

Milan may be a world fashion capital and an European financial capital, but religion, and "the church" in particular, remain a major part of Milanese life. Many of the churches that you see today have undergone reconstruction or renovation, as preserving historic and religious heritage is one of the city's priorities. Take this tour to visit some of the most notable places of...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.7 km
West Centro Walking Tour

West Centro Walking Tour

Milan is a city steeped in history, but also a strategic economic center for Italy, as well as an international fashion hub. Thousands of tourists are attracted to the city's striking historic sites, as well as designer shops and other great places to explore. Take this tour and visit the main sites in Milan's Centro Storico.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Central Milan Souvenir Shopping

Central Milan Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave Milan without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Milan, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


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Souvenir Shopping Guide: 16 Italian Goods Worth Buying in Milan

Souvenir Shopping Guide: 16 Italian Goods Worth Buying in Milan

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Sweet Shops of Milan

Sweet Shops of Milan

This guide will undoubtably make your trip to Milan a sweet one. Most locations are in the city centre, whilst others are set in older headquarters, that boast incredible landmarks and hidden beauties. Milan is habitually associated to fashion and business but has some exquisite examples of art...
16 Best Pastry Shops in Milan Italy

16 Best Pastry Shops in Milan Italy

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12 Cafes To Visit in Milan

12 Cafes To Visit in Milan

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Milan's Fashion Restaurants & Bars

Milan's Fashion Restaurants & Bars

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Milan for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Milan has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes


To save yourself time and money visiting Milan's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Milan Pass and Milano Card.

A city pass combines all or multiple Milan's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels


Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Milan hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: TownHouse Galleria, Room Mate Giulia, Maison Milano | UNA Esperienze.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Milan, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours


We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Milan typically costs from around US$25 up to US$80 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Milan from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get off at any of the stops along the three interconnecting routes (your ticket is valid for all three).

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour – this usually lasts 3 hours and allows visitors to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have done by walking.

- Pedal your way around Milan on a bike tour (3 to 3.5 hours) visiting the city's most spectacular sights, stopping at each of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the city from an informative group leader.

- Enjoy a day of art, food, wine and sightseeing on a 3-hour tour of Milan following in the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci! A great combination of the Renaissance, appetizers, and wines to help one unwind in a true Milanese style at one of the city's most fascinating spots.

- Take a walk deeper “under the skin” of Italy’s fashion capital. Skip lines to Milan's Duomo and Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” to save more time for visiting other iconic local attractions and experiencing the true spirit of Milan.

- Spend 3 hours sightseeing the center of Milan led by a knowledgeable local guide, exploring the city's most notable attractions like the Duomo, Piazza de’ Mercanti, the Loggia, via Dante, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the Scala Theatre and many other prominent locations.

- Enjoy exclusive access “behind the scenes” of the Milanese Fashion District on the one and only Milano fashion tour visiting a number of the city's top ateliers and fashion stores. The tour guides have worked there for years themselves, so they know the fashion industry inside out to ensure you see only the best boutiques.

Day Trips


If you have a day to spare whilst in Milan, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like Venice, the Cinque Terre, a combo of Genoa and Portofino, Lake Como, or Lake Maggiore. For as little as circa US$80 to US$150 per person you will get a chance to discover the highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites including breathtaking Venice, small piece of paradise in the form of five little villages hanging from cliffs over the sea, glamorous coastal towns of the Italian Riviera, and the scenic Italian Lake District. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight at your hotel or a designated place in Milan, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach, minibus, boat or a private vehicle (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.