One day itinerary in Milan
From time to time I go to Milan for a walk. For those living in the North of Italy it’s quite easy to get there by train, and it makes a perfect day trip destination.
There are 5 places in particular that I like. And they can all be visited on foot.
Duomo and Gallery
Duomo e gallery don’t have much in common, but they are so close one to the other that I consider them part of the same stop.
The Duomo is the symbol of Milan. It’s the largest church in Italy and it took almost five centuries to build it. Its beauty is impressive, so rich in details, with these pinnacles that you can see from close if you go up to the terrace.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was built at the end of the XIX Century in a Renaissance style. It’s Milan’s living room, a pedestrian path lined with historic and luxurious restaurants and shops. The central dome in glass and iron is what captures my mind mostly, in particular with the late afternoon light.
At the other end of the gallery, when coming from Piazza Duomo, you end up in Piazza della Scala, where you can find the Opera House of Milan, one of the most prestigious in the world.
Piazza Gae Aulenti
Piazza Gae Aulenti is one of the most recent areas of Milan, inaugurated in 2012. It represents the contemporary Milan, and I link it to the City in London because of the skyscrapers occupied by offices. Here you can see the Unicredit Tower, that with its 231 meters is the tallest skyscraper in Italy.
From this square you can also see the palace with the Vertical Forest.
I don’t particularly love skyscrapers, but this area is very nice, a good example of urban redevelopment. It’s a very green place, despite all the concrete, because it was built with a great attention to the environment: some windows around the square and the tree lamp have photovoltaic cells that produce power for the buildings.
The Sforza Castle dates back to the XV Century and is situated at one end of Parco Sempione. In the past it was one of the most important fortresses of Europe, and together with the Duomo it’s one of the landmarks of Milan.
Nowadays here you can find some museums and interesting exhibitions.
The Navigli are channels that connect Milan to lakes Maggiore and Como and to Po river. In the past they were used to reclaim the land, water the plantations and for trade (for centuries Milan was a fluvial harbor).
Today, the area is best known fo the spritz aperol and the aperitivo. There are traces of its old history, like the “Vicolo dei Lavandai”, the alley of the laundrymen, that still displays an old basin used until the 1950s; there are art galleries, many cafes and restaurants. It’s a hipster area of Milan.
I’ve kept the Monumental Cemetery as last site, but it’s actually my favorite. Maybe because a cemetery is not the first place you think of visiting when you are in a new city.
Ho tenuto il Cimitero Monumentale per ultimo ma in realtà è quello che mi piace di più. Forse perché un cimitero non è il primo posto che ti viene in mente di visitare quando sei in un posto nuovo.
The Monumentale was inaugurated in 1866 and hosts the remains of important figures of Milanese society. What I like are the statues, the chapels, the amazing funeral works, most of which cost more than my apartment. You should spend a day there to see enough of them.
These five sites can be seen in one day during a walk around Milan.
From the train station you can walk to Piazza Gae Aulenti, and from here heading West you get to the Monumental Cemetery.
The Sforza Castle is at one end of Parco Sempione, that you can reach following an alley that starts from the entrance of the cemetery. You can cross the castle and if you take the alley right at your front you can get to Piazza Cardusio, from where you can see the Duomo.
From the Duomo it’s a 30 minutes walk to the Naviglio Grande. Probably by the time you are here it’s the right time for an aperitivo. From here you can go back to the station on foot (about one hour, but I was quite tired at this point), or you can take the underground at Porta Genova station.
I suggest to walk in Milan, as it is beautiful, full of palaces, small gardens and arches that surprise you at any corner.