17 November 2021
Why are walking tours of Milan the ideal solution to get to know every aspect of the capital of Lombardy?
Everyone knows that Milan is famous for its underground that every day shortens distances for thousands of passengers in the large city. But Milan is a city to discover on foot, walking through its different parts which are so different, to get to know its different faces.
It is the capital of haute couture par excellence, the city of the Madonnina that from the high spires of the Duomo watches over the fine square where there is also the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. But Milan can also offer much more.
From the very modern profile of the skyscrapers of Porta Nuova, to the old art nouveau buildings, from the Renaissance courtyards of the Castello Sforzesco to the unusual routes of the most secret Milan and of urban street art…
Walking tours in Milan: here are the ten best routes!
1. THE CIMITERO MONUMENTALE
A real walking tour of Milan in an open-air museum! The majestic entrance of the Cimitero Monumentale is a splendid architectonic scene when you arrive, often on board the iconic tram, from Via Carlo Farini.
The cemetery symbolizes the bond with the past, right in the middle of a part of the city which is becoming increasingly contemporary and avant-garde.
A walk along the paths of the Cimitero Monumentale offers the occasion for a tour not to be missed: plunged into a mystic aura, going past the Famedio – which also holds the remains of the very famous Manzoni – we encounter mausoleums and sculptures of great artistic value.
2. FROM THE CASTELLO SFORZESCO TO THE PARCO SEMPIONE
A pleasant stroll to be immersed in one of the lasgest green areas of Milan, the Parco Sempione, after having made a journey back into the past, into the times of the Renaissance courts, visiting the impressive Castello Sforzesco.
The castle, which belonged to the Sforza family, is today home to the Civic Museums and houses works by artists of the calibre of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, a marvellous art gallery and many masterpieces of applied art, including the splendid Tapestries of the Months by Bramantino, on display in the Ballroom.
Outside the walls of the fortress there is the large Parco Sempione, where the Milanese spend the finest days, having picnics and doing sport. Majestic and proud, the Arco della Pace stands at the entrance and is one of the symbols of Milan. A treat? In Piazza Sempione you can enjoy a Milanese aperitif the way it should be!
3. PORTA VENEZIA AND THE ART NOUVEAU SIDE OF MILAN
The city of Milan blossomed in the early years of the 20th century: the city today flaunts the floral patterns, the organic and sinuous decorations of the art nouveau style of then, especially in the area of Porta Venezia.
From Casa Donizelli to Casa Galimberti, with its marvellous ceramics, you will be fascinated by the wrought iron and the floral decorations, like those of the monumental Palazzo Castiglioni.
After having been enchanted by the luxury of the Hotel Diana Sheraton, you have to sharpen your sight because the route becomes even more fairy tale-like when we stop in Via dei Cappuccini, where you have to stop and admire the pink flamingos of Villa Invernizzi.
4. PORTA NUOVA AND ITS DIZZYING SKYLINE
Milan is said to be the most European city in Italy, alluding to its avant-garde nature, including in architecture: its skyline is now an icon and it is due above all to the Expo in 2015.
A stroll through the area leads you to discover dizzyingly high skyscrapers, like the Unicredit Tower by César Pelli which dominates the beautiful raised Piazza Gae Aulenti, an essential stop for shopping or for a Spritz in one of the many venues with outside tables.
Further on, the very new Biblioteca degli Alberi (Library of Trees) a green space in the centre of this triumph of “contemporary cathedrals”. But Milan shows off its green side in the work by Stefano Boeri as well, the famous Bosco Verticale (Vertical Wood): two residential blocks which will conquer the heart of anyone with green fingers!
5. CITYLIFE AND ITS SHOPPING DISTRICT
Famous for having been chosen as a love nest by one of the best-loved couples on the social networks, CityLife lets you again discover the most futuristic face of Milan.
Amongst the new “Giants”, strolling through the paths of CityLife, you will notice the Isozaki Tower, called ”the Straight one”, “the twisted one” designed by the great Zaha Hadid and the skyscraper by Libeskind, known as the “Curved one” due to its sinuous shape. Are you a shopaholic? There’s also a shopping centre!
6. STREET ART BETWEEN TICINESE AREA AND NAVIGLI
MUDEC (Museum of Cultures) also celebrated street art with an exclusive exhibition dedicated to the mysterious Banksy: murals and graffiti in Milan are found in abundance, especially walking through the streets of the Ticinese part of the city and the Navigli.
From the puzzles on the walls of the Strada dell’Ironia to the murals that portray well known faces such as Alda Merini and Jannacci, a stroll in the streets and on the bridges of the Navigli reveals a real explosion of colour and art, often imbued with an important political and social message.
7. ORTICA – THE MUSEUM DISTRICT
Here is one of the walking tours of Milan you cannot miss: Ortica is another landmark in Milanese street art. Since 2017 the streets of Ortica have been coloured with twenty murals thanks to the project Arte di Strada which saw the duo Orticonodles at work, with the support of Milan City Council.
An artistic project that redevelops the area and also opens into the social and collective memory, portraying women of the Resistance and other historical figures of the city, like the partisan Morandi.
8. PARCO SEMPIONE BETWEEN FLOWERS AND FOLIAGE
We have already spoken about the Parco Sempione but a walk along its paths can also be experienced from another perspective, on a real botanical tour: on the paths we can admire elms, horse chestnuts, cedars, ashes and many other trees that in the autumn have very colourful foliage.
In the spring, hydrangeas, rhododendrons and snapdragons come into bloom. Are you ready to recognize every plant guided by our botanist, on a route with a green soul?
9. MILANESE LEGENDS AT BREAKFAST
A very particular tour that promises to illustrate the best known and most mysterious legends linked to the city, in front of typically Milanese street food.
Cakes and pastries for every season, symbols and traditions of Milan on a guided tour through the city centre, from the Castello Sforzesco to the Duomo of Milan.
You don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, any street you take you are on the right one to enjoy Milan (and more) all round.
10. THE PARK OF THE MONZA PALACE BY MINIATURE TRAIN
The walking tours are not only in Milan! We go just outside the city to reach another splendid city: we board a picturesque miniature train to go round the green part of the Monza Royal Palace! The rose garden in the park boasts of more than 4,000 roses, but not only the flora is very rich…
The 18th century architecture of the Palace and the many farmsteads in the park are truly worth a visit.