Not packed in a bus. Not herded with a group. Self guided walk is the SAFEST way to sightsee while observing SOCIAL DISTANCING!

West Centro Walking Tour (Self Guided), Milan

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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West Centro Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: West Centro Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Milan (See other walking tours in Milan)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles
Author: alexei
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Via Torino
  • Santa Maria presso San Satiro
  • Sant'Alessandro in Zebedia
  • San Giorgio al Palazzo
  • Colonne di San Lorenzo
  • Basilica of San Lorenzo
  • Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio
  • Museo della Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio
  • Cenacolo Vinciano
  • Santa Maria delle Grazie
  • Museo Civico Archeologico
  • Castello Sforzesco
  • Pinacoteca Castello Sforzesco
Via Torino

1) Via Torino

Via Torino is one of the main shopping streets of Milan. It connects Piazza Duomo with the typical Ticinese district. Via Torino is famous for its specialty in shoes – one of the woman’s favorite product. Full of shops selling shoes, the street is famous for its wide range of shoes merchandise – from all-terrain boots to dainty sandals. In recent years Via Torino has developed a shoe mall, with a large number of shops selling shoes mainly to the young people. Price range varies from inexpensive to the medium-to-high priced along with the difference in quality.

At the other end of the Via Torino, down from the Duomo, is the Ticinese district which offers a selection of small shops and workshops.

Milan has been defined as a rich city dedicated to art and pleasure. It is, no doubt, an active participant in the fashion race of the world's capital cities along with Paris, Tokyo and London. Here you can find anything you can dream of. With the wide variety of shoes available and the prices ranging from very low to very high, you will surely find something that matches your style and your budget. If you have a love for shoes, you must visit this street, you will be baffled with the choices available for you.
Santa Maria presso San Satiro

2) Santa Maria presso San Satiro (must see)

Commonly known as San Satiro, this Italian Renaissance structure (1476-1482) just south of the Duomo in Milan houses the early-medieval shrine to Satyrus, brother of Saint Ambrose. The church is known for its false apse, an early example of trompe l'œil, attributed to Donato Bramante.

Dating back to the 800s, the structure was renovated in the second half of the 1400s by Donato Bramante, after Duke Gian Galeazzo Sforza commissioned a new church for his city. The Duke wanted to build a huge church but the location available to him was very small due to the busy street. The choir, the space behind the altar, had to be reduced, making the church awkwardly short.

Many famous architects and painters participated in designing a church in such a way that it would fit on a tiny plot. In order to solve this problem, Bramante devised an ingenious solution by painting an optical illusion. Though architectural optical illusion was popular in the late Renaissance and Baroque, Bramante gave it an entirely new dimension. If you stand at the entrance of the edifice you will have an impression of a much deeper space giving the illusion of the altar far behind than is physically possible. Special lightings inside the church were used to help create this effect. The illusion, however, quickly disappears when you step aside from the main axis of the church. The magic reappears when you step back.

Why You Should Visit:
There aren't many places like this in Milan: small, half-hidden, and ready to reveal themselves only to those who know how to discover them.
Entry is free and photos are allowed, so you can easily have a look at the views of its interior. The perspective effect at the end is simply stunning.

As in other churches in town, volunteers will offer you a short explanation about the history and art of the building, so be sure to take advantage.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-12pm / 2:30-6pm; Sun: 2-5:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Sant'Alessandro in Zebedia

3) Sant'Alessandro in Zebedia

The Church of Sant'Alessandro in Zebedia, built in 1589, is a Baroque style church with two lateral bell towers. One functions as a clock whilst the other has been a belfry since 1643. The church comprises of a principal building on the Greek cross plan with a central dome.

Built by Barnabite monks in the 9th century, the church has a centralized plan with a cupola that serves as a presbytery. The interior is decorated with precious paintings in the Lombard tradition of the 17th and 18th centuries. Federico Borromeo laid the foundation stone in 1602. The design was done by Lorenzo Birago and the church was built on an area where there was once an antique oratory dedicated to Saint Pancras. Saint Zebedia prison was also present there in which, it is thought, martyr Alessandro was held.

There is a lobby with wooden insets in front of the entrance of the church. It leads to the church through one of the two existing doors: three naves separated by large pillars and buttress. The central area is lined with benches for the faithful. Baptismal font is also present along with a harmonium and a beautiful, sacred image of the Virgin Mary.

Platform is embedded with precious stones. The whole altar structure is in green marble and covered with precious gems. The walls of the presbytery are decorated by six paintings which date back to 1687 and show scenes from the Saint's life. There are thirteen confessionals present in this monumental church, two of which are made of walnut and have marble insets.

Milanese families donated generously to the building of the church and obtained patronage of many chapels. The remains of Saint Alexander are also preserved in this chapel.

It is a peaceful and relaxing place which takes one away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Your visit to this church will take you to a journey of heavenly bliss.
Sight description based on wikipedia
San Giorgio al Palazzo

4) San Giorgio al Palazzo

San Giorgio al Palazzo is a church in Milan of very ancient origin. The church still stands on the ancient ruins of the imperial palace built by Diocletian. The facade is complemented by an elegant pediment with statues bronze is the work of Francis Cross and dates back to 1774. The church is currently home to the representation of Milan's Constantinian Order of Saint George who has established and whose presence is commemorated by a marble plaque that is on the left side of the main altar.
Colonne di San Lorenzo

5) Colonne di San Lorenzo

Situated in front of the San Lorenzo Basilica, Colonne di San Lorenzo is the most famous remnants of Roman Empire in Milan. With a row of columns on either side, the monument is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Milan. The columns were extracted from a Roman temple or bath house of the 2nd century Mediolanum (latin for Milan) and brought to the present location in the 4th century. These tall Roman columns are sixteen in number standing at the sides of a square. A red brick architrave is balanced at the top of these columns. Front redbrick walls have a pointed arch and a round arch gateway. Message of Lucius Verus, roman co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius, are written on marble tablet on the wall. One of the medieval Roman marble gates of the city is still present on the south side of the columns.

Old houses were present in the space between the church and columns till 1935. When the renovation work was carried out, these houses were destroyed and the monument on the front side was segregated. After the World War II, the church complex on the rear side also became isolated. An urban park known as Basilicas Park is now situated here.

The layout of the church is in the form of a four leaved flower consisting of an open central area and a surrounding ambulatory, expressed in 2 stories and 4 semicircular recesses, each featuring 5 arches. The church has byzantine features with a triple archway entrance and the central layout with a grand dome on octagonal support. Four square towers and a typical group of adjacent chapels such as the 5th century octagonal Saint Aquilinus chapel that houses precious paleochristian mosaics is also present. The ruins of martyr Saint Aquilino of Milan are kept in this chapel. A 17th century reliquary ark made by Lombardian architect Carlo Garavaglia is also housed here.

The dome of Basilica San Lorenzo was rebuilt with a Baroque influence with the lanolin on top, after the destruction of original dome.

This urban monument square is very popular in Milan and provides a good social atmosphere for both locals and tourists.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Basilica of San Lorenzo

6) Basilica of San Lorenzo

Founded in the 4th century, Basilica of Saint Lawrence is the oldest church in Milan. Dedicated to Christian martyr St. Lawrence, it was among the largest buildings in the west. Its foundations were laid with the huge blocks taken from other Roman sites and its interior was done is a unique manner with the lower half decorated with marble and the upper half adorned in mosaics.

Basilica of San Lorenzo was rebuilt in the 11th century. In the 16th century, it was redecorated and renovated. It has a dome and four towers and its structure is similar to that of Constantinople’s Hagia Sofia. Despite all the renovations, the church has retained the original Byzantine structure.

The church consists of an open central area surrounded by an ambulatory. The plan of the building is a quatrefoil with four semicircular recesses of two storey and five arches per recess. There is a separate gallery for female worshippers now disappeared to some extent. Baroque style was incorporated while reconstructing the original dome. Front of the church is lined with sixteen ancient Roman columns with the church retaining its original octagonal floor plan. A copy of a statue of Constantine, the first Christian Roman emperor, stands elegantly outside the church. The great dome, the highest in Milan, is a 16th century addition. A coffin in the chapel contains the remains of Galla Placidia, sister of Honorius, last emperor of Rome and wife of Ataulf. Behind the altar, a staircase leads to room that look like a tomb. It contains the original foundations made from the materials taken from a Roman arena.

The Basilica of S. Lorenzo underwent several fires and renovations. But the basilica maintained many of the ancient structure's elements. A huge quadrangular hall was built by using the materials from the columns of a 2nd century building. Probably built at the beginning of the 5th century, it lies opposite to the Basilica. At present, the columns are all that remains of the monumental hall front.

The chapel has an octagonal structure and is considered to be the most magnificent among the existing octagonal buildings of the Romans. The most precious treasure is represented by the bits and pieces of mosaics once used in decorating the whole place. The Basilica's style has an elementary role in western history of art and architecture and has been reproduced many times.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio

7) Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio (must see)

The Church of Sant' Ambrogio is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture. It is considered to be one of the most ancient churches in Italy and one of the most historically interesting medieval buildings in Lombardy. The church was named after St. Ambrose who consecrated it in 386. When he died in 397, he was buried beside the bodies of St. Gervase and St. Protasius buried inside the Church.

Originally the church was known as Basilica Martyrum. It was a small three-aisled, transept-less church and was situated in an area where numerous martyrs of the Roman persecutions had been buried. The church was damaged in the August 1943 bombings. Architect Ferdinando Reggiori restored the original building and gave its present form in the first half of the 12th century. 

Like many Lombard churches, this one is also made of brick; the clay in this region fires to a deep red. The Old Monk's Tower dated to the 10th century whereas the Canon's Tower dated back to the 12th century. Lombard churches are also characterized by the presence of huge gable over the nave and by a tall square belfry. 

Why You Should Visit:
The impressive architecture is to be seen already by far and you won't be disappointed at entering. You won't find fancy, elaborate gilded decorations but will be able to see 6th-century columns, a 4th-century mosaic, a 10-century ciborium, medieval statues, Renaissance frescoes and a magnificent golden altar from the year 835.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-12:30pm / 2:30-6pm; Sun: 3-5pm
Free admission
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo della Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio

8) Museo della Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio (must see)

The Museum of the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, established in 1949, contains sacred finds relevant to the Basilica including mosaics and church furnishings. It was established to document the history of the Basilica through a precious collection of artworks and liturgical objects. The gold and silver cross which St Charles Borromeo carried in 1576 in a thanksgiving procession to mark the end of the plague is displayed here among other highlights such as the original chapel and some amazing mosaics.

Why You Should Visit:
Entry to the basilica costs nothing, but if you wish to visit the museum then you will pay just a couple of euros.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-12pm / 2:30-6pm; Sun: 3-5pm
Cenacolo Vinciano

9) Cenacolo Vinciano (must see)

Santa Maria delle Grazie is an attractive Renaissance church and convent. The convent was completed in 1469 and the church was completed after 21 years in 1490. The dining hall of the convent contains Leonardo da Vinci's fresco, "The Last Supper". Created by Leonardo for his patron Duke Ludovico Sforza and his duchess, this 15th-century wall painting was made on drywall rather than on wet plaster. Therefore, it is not a true fresco. A fresco cannot be altered as the artist works; thus, Leonardo decided to paint on the stone wall and then seal the wall with a sealing layer. His work began to deteriorate a few years after he finished it. Two early copies of "The Last Supper", thought to be the work of Leonardo's assistant, still exist.

During World War II, the church and the convent were demolished by the bombings of the British and American planes. On the sad night of 15 August 1943, nothing was left of the church except some walls including the one that had the fresco "The Last Supper" which had been protected by lining sandbags against it.

Since it is very complicated to restore a fresco, it is kept under a weather-controlled environment. In order to view the fresco, visitors have to do an advance booking of 60 days. They are allowed to stay only for 15 minutes but that is enough to appreciate the unique work of art.

Take time to learn and understand the online booking process! Look at their page to see the notice about when tickets will be released for a certain timeframe of visits (e.g. tickets for August are released at 9am Italy time on X date). Then you can calculate EXACTLY when you must get online to purchase the ticket.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 8.15am-7pm
Santa Maria delle Grazie

10) Santa Maria delle Grazie (must see)

Santa Maria delle Grazie (Holy Mary of Grace) is a famous church and Dominican convent in Milan, included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites list. The church is also famous for the mural of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, which is in the refectory of the convent.

The Duke of Milan, Francesco I Sforza, ordered the building of Santa Maria delle Grazie in the 15th century. The design of the apse of the church has been attributed to Donato Bramante, who at the time was in the service of the Duchy. He kept the Gothic style from the convent but added more Romanesque influences.

During World War II, on the night of 15 August 1943, an allied aerial bombardment hit the church and the convent. Much of the refectory was destroyed, but some walls survived, including the one that holds "The Last Supper", which had been sand-bagged in order to protect it. Some preservation works are done to maintain it for the future. It is believed that current and future preservation works will keep the painting safe for many centuries to come.

Why You Should Visit:
Viewing "The Last Supper" in its own setting will make you feel more appreciative of the single point linear perspective and the 3D effect so cleverly used by Da Vinci.

To view "The Last Supper", make sure to book your tickets well in advance on the official website, as they are usually sold out for at least 2 weeks.

Opening Hours:
Daily (exc. Sundays & Holidays): 10am-12:20pm / 3*-5:30pm (* in July at 3:30)
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo Civico Archeologico

11) Museo Civico Archeologico

Museo Civico Archeologico is a small and fascinating museum that reveals information about the Milan during the era of Roman Empire. It shows how Milan unexpectedly became the capital of the empire in the fourth century A.D.

The museum has some unique masterpieces of art in its collections. The most important of which include the Trivulzio's cup, a rare example of intact diatret glass from the Roman times; patera from Parabiago, beautiful example of silverware of the late Roman Empire and the art from Gandhara, the region between India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The building of the museum is also very interesting as it has been constructed inside the structures of the Roman Circus. Remains from the Roman times can be seen present all around the museum.

The Municipal Archeological Museum has its home in the Benedictine Monastery since the 1960s. Established through a merger of the Brera Archeological Museum and the Municipal Art Museum, it houses items from the rich numismatic collection of Greek, Italian and Etruscan masterpieces. All the documentation of sculptures, ceramics and mosaics dating from the prehistoric to the modern age are housed in there. It has an interesting section of the items excavated from Palestine along with a complete section showing historic treasures from the Necropolis of Lovere. The Archaeological Museum is also famous for its rich scientific activity and for its accurate publications on the collections it houses.

A visit to the museum will give you a real insight into the history of the Milan during the Roman Empire.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Sunday 9 am - 5.30 pm.
Castello Sforzesco

12) Castello Sforzesco (must see)

Castello Sforzesco, one of the biggest fortresses in Europe that used to house the Duchy of Milan, now contains several museums and art collections. Constructed in the 14th century, it had been rebuilt and modified a number of times by later generations. The castle rooms were originally decorated with intricately detailed work of art, the most famous being the ceiling paintings by Leonardo da Vinci. Today, you can spend days wandering through Castello Sforzesco walking in the gardens and looking at the various restored details of the museums.

Across centuries, the castle survived many battles, occupations, sacking and destruction. One of its famous towers known as the Filarete tower was used to store ammunition. In 1521, a lightning rod hit the tower and resulted in the explosion of all the ammunition. The aftermath of this storm included many casualties and complete destruction of the entire fortress.

The castle has been restored several times until the assault by Napoleon's troops in 1796. The attack by Napoleon's army caused severe damage to the old fortress. Napoleon decided to demolish the external structure of the building and to use the Castle as quarters for the troops. The frescoed rooms at the ground floor of the Corte Ducale were even used as stables. 

With the Unification of Italy, architect Luca Beltrami carried out the reconstruction and restoration of the old fortress. The Castle was given back to the city of Milan in 1905 and became a major center of art and culture with seven different and distinct museums open to the general public.

Why You Should Visit:
In addition to being a great place to spend an afternoon, especially in its courtyard and extensive gardens, the castle also has a really lovely interior.
Each room is a treasure, not only for its exhibitions, monuments and sculptures, but the ceilings – some with heraldic shields, others with stars – are wonders in themselves.
Walking through the castle is free so if you're on a budget, just walk through it and admire the courtyards & architecture; however, the "all museums" fee is actually quite reasonable.

Try to arrive on a Tuesday around 2pm to get free entry (entry on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month is free for all public museums).
There's no way to access the battlements or the "inside" (aside from the museums) except by guided tour – consider booking one in advance for that.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-5:30pm
Pinacoteca Castello Sforzesco

13) Pinacoteca Castello Sforzesco (must see)

Inaugurated in 1878, this well-known art gallery is part of the complex of the Sforza Castle Museums in Milan. The gallery displays over 230 artworks, which include masterpieces by Titian, Andrea Mantegna, Canaletto, Antonello da Messina, Pisanello, Vincenzo Foppa, Giovanni Bellini, Correggio, Bernardino Luini, Lorenzo Lotto, Tintoretto and others. The complete collection of the museum, enriched in the last two centuries by donations of illustrious citizens and collectors, now has more than 1500 artworks.

The first rooms of the Pinacoteca are dedicated to religious paintings of the 15th and 16th centuries with artworks by Vincenzo Foppa, Bergognone, Bramantino, Carlo Crivelli, Bernardino Luini and other Lombard and Italian Renaissance painters. This part of the museum includes the "Trivulzio Madonna" by Andrea Mantegna, dating from 1497 (another "Trivulzio Madonna" by Filippo Lippi is also in the museum).

The second half of the Pinacoteca displays artworks from the 16th, 17th and 18th century. This includes both secular and religious works from artists such as Canaletto, Giambattista Tiepolo, Bernardo Bellotto, Titian and Tintoretto.

Some portraits of the Sforza family members from the 15th-16th centuries century are also on display in the museum.

Definitely get the audio guide and be prepared with a proximity card for your payment as for some odd reason they do not have the capability of accepting the usual chip card (fortunately, Google Pay works).
While there are 14 different exhibitions in the Castle itself, please note that some of these are closed in the afternoon. A ticket for all exhibitions in the Castle comes at a very reasonable cost.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-5:30pm

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.
East Centro Walking Tour

East 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: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Core of Centro Storico Walking Tour

Core of Centro Storico Walking Tour

Milan is a city that boasts both historic and modern architecture. It is also a strategic economic center for Italy and is home to the country's stock exchange. Thousands of tourists are attracted to the city's striking historic sites like the La Scala opera house and the famous Duomo, as well as designer shops and other great places to explore.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
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 or 3 Miles
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 or 3 Miles
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: 5.6 Km or 3.5 Miles
Historical Churches Walking Tour

Historical Churches 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 or 3.5 Miles

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