This is an excerpt from the book “Milan” by Enrico Massetti.
Taking a stroll around Milan is an excellent way of getting to know some fascinating corners. It also the only way to get acquainted with its flavor and lifestyle. It is true what is told about the Milanese who are always in a hurry. However, even if nobody could deny Milan is a very active city, its citizens have learned when to stop and how to enjoy a walk in the city center pedestrian areas while having an aperitif and a good chat with some good friends.
The city centre pedestrian areas:
Corso Vittorio Emanuele is a pedestrian precinct with the main cinemas, bookshops, fashion shops and bars with open-air tables.
Piazza San Babila – Start of the pedestrian precinct, a square surrounded by post-war architecture with many fashionable shops.
Via Della Spiga – pedestrian street where the great stylists have their showrooms
Brera is one of the most attractive streets with fine private houses, art galleries, original shops most popular for its bars, clubs, restaurants and night-life.
Via Mercanti – pedestrian precinct with its attractive “piazzetta”, the administrative and political center of Medieval Milan
Via Dante created in the late 19th century to provide an evocative link between the Duomo (cathedral) and the Castle (Castello Sforzesco)
A recommended itinerary:
Start from Piazza San Babila, easily reachable with the “metropolitana” underground line 1, station San Babila. You walk in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, a fashionable street with lots of high end shops, mainly clothing.
A visit to the roof of the Duomo is a must. Take the elevator in the back of the Duomo, if you don’t want to gasp on an interminable stair! From the rooftop you are in a magic world of marble and statues, several thousand statues, indeed. Go to the front of the roof and look down at the Duomo square. Look also up to “the Madonnina” the golden statue on top of the highest guglia, it’s the most loved symbol of Milan. During World War II it was covered so that it would not shine in the night attracting the attention of the allied bombers.
At the end of the Corso, you arrive at the back of the “Duomo” cathedral. Do not miss a visit to the cafeteria of the “La Rinascente” store under the porticos on your right. You find it by going up to the last floor of the store, the cafeteria has a glass wall facing the top of the Duomo. The sight is unique, and the Cappuccino is worth a visit too.
Continuing North, you reach the main square Piazza Duomo, in front of “il Duomo”. You should visit the cathedral of the Duomo, if you have not yet done so.
On the right you then enter the “Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II,” the first mall realized in the 19th century, and still a masterwork of artistic shopping.
On the side of the central octagonal don’t miss the bull, there is a tradition in Milan: squeezing your feet on the bull’s balls is supposed to bring you good luck!
Returning back to Piazza Duomo, visit the Piazzetta Reale, on the opposite side of the square: the “Palazzo Reale” is the place where most exhibitions of art are held in Milan.
Continue then towards the right corner of the square, and enter “via Mercanti,” stopping to look at the Mercanti square on the left: it is a surprising corner of medieval Milan preserved intact to the current days.
At the end of via Mercanti you continue through piazza Cordusio towards via Dante, a pedestrian area. Via Dante will take you to the “Castello Sforzesco”, definitely worth a visit too.
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Where to stay in Milan
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