Milan walk: art galleries, churches and the castle

titlemilanSo what do you do when you suddenly discover that you have a free weekend? You make plans to travel somewhere nice, right? And if your sister is free as well, a shopping spree is in order. Living in Ticino Milan is the perfect option for a shopping day trip, after all it is one of the capitals of fashion. So that’s what we did, but instead of visiting the usual shops around the Duomo, I decided that I wanted to see another side of Milan.

milano-19I started doing some research a few days earlier, read some guides and talked to some colleagues that live in Milan, and I came up with this walk that would take us through some lesser known areas in the city. Some places I had visited before, and some where I had never been

I must admit, at the end of the walk we both had some mixed feelings. While we saw a few beautiful spots and the shops were surely less crowded in these areas, we also missed some of our  favourite stores from the centre. Also parts of the walk were not exactly scenic, even though I must admit that the fog probably didn’t help. It all looked pretty grey to me. I was also quite disappointed at the churches, there are a lot on the walk but most of them are closed between 12.00 and 16.00 so I was left rattling at locked doors more than once. Those I managed to visit were lovely though.

milano-18If you are in Milan and have some time to kill, after having seen the main sights, you may still want to go on this self-guided walk to see another face of the city.

Start the tour at Garibaldi train station. Just outside the station building you will see two huge modern towers and between them a big elevated square (1) with shops all around it. This square is only 3 years old and one of the places I really liked on the walk. What a pity for the weather, I’m sure it would have been a nice spot to sit outside in one of the cafés and relax. Apparently, at Christmas, there is also a nice Christmas market. From the square descend towards Corso Como (2), a really nice pedestrian shopping street. Don’t miss a visit to 10 Corso Como for a truly special shopping experience. If you’re hungry you may want to stop at California Bakery (3) for a bagel or a piece of cheesecake. milano-7milano-8At the end of Corso Como you will see Porta Garibaldi, one of the old city gates. On your left don’t miss a visit to Eataly (4) can you go in and out without buying anything? I doubt it. Italian food, cooking books, kitchen accessories: I just couldn’t resist. Then continue towards Via San Marco and walk along an old and now dry canal, before turning right towards the double church of Santa Maria Incoronata (5).
milano-9Then stroll down Corso Garibaldi for some shopping before you hit the next two churches, Basilica di San Simpliciano (6) and Chiesa di San Marco (7). Don’t miss a visit to Brera Art Gallery (8) for an excellent collection of Italian paintings, if you’re short on time at least visit the courtyard of the palazzo.
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milano-13milano-16Via Madonnina (9) is a lovely pedestrian shopping area where you can find a few typical Italian restaurants too. I think I have to go back there in summer, I bet it’s a very lively place when it’s a bit sunnier and hotter.milano-17One of the highlights of this walk, of course, is the Sforzesco Castle (10). Even if you don’t have the time to visit one of the many museums inside the castle, spend some time in the different courtyards. Exit through the back gate to see Sempione park (11) as well, before going to the main gate and walking to the pedestrian shopping area Via Dante (12).
milano-20 milano-21 milano-15 milanoNext comes my absolute highlight of this walk, the wonderful San Maurizio church (13). I was debating with my sister if we should go inside as the church didn’t look very special from the outside, but I’m so glad we did! This small church is filled with frescoes, which create an impressive atmosphere. Visit the room in the back as well, we nearly missed it as the door leading to it is very small. The colours are just wonderful and some of the paintings very interesting.
milano-4 milano-3 milano-2Continue straight on and you will reach the church Santa Maria delle Grazie (14), just next to it, in the refectory of the convent, you can see The Last Supper (15) painting by Leonardo da Vinci. Of course, to see the painting, you have to book tickets well in advance, I wanted to book about two weeks earlier but all tickets for the day were already sold out. So we planned to visit at least the church, but unfortunately it was closed due to a funeral.
milano-14 milano-5Continue to Corso Vercelli (16) and Via Belfiore (17) before reaching the local market (18), where the locals buy their pastas, fish and vegetables. This is also where the tour ends, I hope you liked it!
milano-6As always here is the map to download and the online version.

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