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Milan in a Day: Self Guided Sightseeing Walking Tour

Updated on June 19, 2020
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy | Source

Bucket List

Whether I get to visit this fabulous cosmopolitan city of Milan, Italy this year or in years to come, just being introduced to it because of my husband's travels it has made my personal bucket list of places that I wish to someday experience.

Milan has existed as a population center for centuries before the birth of Christ under the ruling dominion of different tribes of people and has survived everything from wars to epidemics.

Over the centuries it has morphed into a commercially prosperous city filled with historical churches and houses the third largest cathedral in the entire world.

Milan also contains art galleries, gardens, the famous La Scala Opera House, a castle, the original Galleria and is a noted high fashion center among other things. It will be there when I make plans to follow in my husband's footsteps to Italy someday.

One day he ventured out on a sightseeing self guided walking tour of Milan back in 2006. He was taking a break from the wine business that took him to that metropolis.

What to See in Milan

Some people come to Milan to check out some of the high designer clothing. Others just wish to sate one's appetite at a cafe or restaurant in what has become a favorite haunt of those who live in Milan.

Be sure to visit this architectural gem of a building the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which connects two important plazas. It is sure to impress one upon seeing it for the first time as it did my husband.

Showing one of the frescoes and detail work inside of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Showing one of the frescoes and detail work inside of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II | Source

The architect of this magnificent iron and glass domed structure, Giuseppe Mengoni, sadly fell to his death off of some scaffolding prior to its completion. There are frescoes and mosaics embellishing this stunning architectural beauty of a building.

It was opened two years after construction started in 1865 and took on the name of the king Vittorio Emanuelle II.

Shows the mosaics on the floor inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
Shows the mosaics on the floor inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. | Source

The eye catching and unique design of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II has inspired similar buildings around the world including a Galleria shopping center in Houston as well as one in Dallas, Texas.

Having been in both of these Texas Galleria's, I had no idea that the original prototype design came from Italy.

The glass domed ceiling in Houston's Galleria looms above three stories with an ice skating rink at the lowest level. Balconies with railings allow shoppers and visitors to look down upon the ice skaters while also being able to enter all of the retail shops and restaurants which surround that portion of the Galleria.

In Milan, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II connects two important plazas, the Plaza del Duomo and the Plaza del Scala.

Thus it becomes not only an attraction when wondering what to see in Milan but also a gorgeous conduit between two of the other sites one should also visit while in that city.

A view of the spires of Duomo di Milano, Milan, Italy from below.
A view of the spires of Duomo di Milano, Milan, Italy from below. | Source


Located in the historic city center of Milan, the Duomo is a gigantic cathedral of epic proportions. Only St. Peters in Rome and a cathedral in Seville and another one located on the Ivory Coast is larger.

Taking over five centuries to build and completed in 1813 upon the orders of Napoleon Bonaparte, the base of the cathedral is Baroque in style but was completed as Gothic.

The roof of the Duomo (Cathedral) in Milan (Italy).
The roof of the Duomo (Cathedral) in Milan (Italy). | Source

Numerous spires lift towards the heavens in typical Gothic style and there are about 3,500 statues which range from saints to animals and even monsters.

A gilded 14 foot (4.16m) golden statue of the Madonna tops the tallest spire and it was sculpted by Giuseppe Bini in 1774.

La Madonnina - Duomo
La Madonnina - Duomo | Source

It weighs 3 tons and is called La Madonnina. It can be viewed better from the roof terraces where visitors can not only see it, but also the many other spires and buttresses of the cathedral...and even views of the Swiss Alps on a clear day.

Needless-to-say views of Milan from this perspective are also impressive.

Inside the Cathedral Duomo

Interior views of the Duomo are equally impressive.

With five different aisles, 52 columns (piers) each decorated with a statue of a saint, elaborate and colorful stained glass windows depicting scenes from the Bible and marble floors there is much to catch the attention of a visitor or someone attending mass in that environs.

Inside the Duomo (Cathedral) in Milan.
Inside the Duomo (Cathedral) in Milan. | Source

The cathedral can seat 40,000 people! That is like seating an entire medium to small town's population in one building!

The Duomo is filled with resplendent types of art and treasures such as can only be accumulated over many centuries and with dedicated effort. Obviously one could spend quite a bit of time exploring all of the nooks and crannies of this cathedral even including what lies below the main floor where one can see ruins dating back to the 4th century.

This is definitely one of the sites to see as a visitor to Milan!

La Scala Opera House in Milan
La Scala Opera House in Milan | Source

La Scala

Located in Milan's historic center is the world famous La Scala Opera House which has one of the largest stages in Italy measuring 13,000 square feet (1,200 square meters).

Located on the Plaza del Scala, the outside facade of this building is not all that impressive. However that changes dramatically when one enters the interior spaces.

The auditorium can seat 2,015 people and the acoustics are reputed to be exceptional. Elaborately decorated with gilded stucco work, fine woods and warm colored red velvets, it along with the mirror-lined salon provides an elegant setting for watching operas and ballets.

It stands on the site of a former church called Santa Maria della Scala and derives its name from that. La Scala was built by Giuseppe Piermarini from the years 1776 to 1778 but sustained much damage from the bombing in World War 2. It was rebuilt and Arturo Toscanini played a memorable concert on that newly rebuilt stage in 1946 and once again this prestigious theater was delighting audiences from not only Italy, but from around the world.

I would love to be able to watch an opera or a ballet from one of the numerous boxes where one could look down upon the stage in style and comfort. Perhaps someday that wish will be fulfilled.

Palazzo Marino
Palazzo Marino | Source

This elaborately built and decorated palace for the Marino family dating back to its completion in 1563 is now the site of Milan's city hall since the year 1861.

A statue of Leonardo da Vinci is situated in the Plaza del Scala.

Castello Sforzesco in Milan, Italy
Castello Sforzesco in Milan, Italy | Source

Castello Sforzesco

This historic structure was built in 1368 by Galeazzo II Visconti as a fortress but was eventually transformed into a palace.

In intervening years it suffered damage from warring factions but upon Francesco Sforza becoming the lord of Milan in 1450 it was once again established as a magnificent palace.

Notable artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Bramante painted frescoes that remain there today even though the buildings reverted in later years back to serving as a military post.

Castello Sforzesco entrance
Castello Sforzesco entrance | Source

Fortunately, when it was being considered for demolition, the architect Luca Beltrami came along and it was restored and by the year 1904 it has served Milan as a wonderful setting for a number of museums.

Art lovers as well as those who appreciate history by looking at artifacts could undoubtedly spend the better part of a day there viewing everything that there is on display.

Some of the items which can be seen there include the following:

  • ancient art to decorative arts
  • stamps and books
  • famous sculptures
  • furniture collections
  • musical instruments
  • costumes and armour
  • tapestries
  • jewelry

These things and more could keep interested parties enthralled and happily engaged in learning about the past in this historic site. I know that I would certainly enjoy visiting there!

Some of the sites mentioned in this post located in Milan, Italy.

Castello Sforzesco in Milan:
Sforzesco Castle, Piazza Castello, 27100 Pavia, Italy

get directions

La Scala in Milan:
Piazza della Scala, 20121 Milan, Italy

get directions

Duomo in Milan:
Duomo, 20121 Milan, Italy

get directions

Vacation in Milan

Obviously there is much more to enjoy if one plans a trip to Milan, Italy. The few things mentioned here just scratch the surface of what there is to do and see.

Milan is currently the second largest city in Italy and the capitol of the region of Lombardy. It has much of historic interest dating back to even before the days when it became the capitol of the Roman Empire.

From church history to military history, this city has gone though numerous changes through the ages. Interesting architecture as well as art abounds.

My husband did not have time to see Leonardo da Vinci's famous Last Supper painting because of his business schedule but it will certainly be on my list of things to see.

That as well as other historic buildings, churches, museums, gardens, art galleries and shopping should keep me busy for awhile.

Being a furniture as well as high fashion center, I may have to settle on window shopping due to the high prices of couture fashion. But that can be fun as well!

It is also nice to know that if I wish to see some of the lakes of northern Italy, there are many of these scenic beauties not far from Milan including Lake Maggiore, Lake Como and Lake Garda among others.

The Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci
The Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci | Source
Rick Steves Snapshot Milan & the Italian Lakes District
Rick Steves Snapshot Milan & the Italian Lakes District
We love watching Rick Steves on television. Anyone planning a trip to this region of Italy would be well served to check out his inside tips on what to do and where to stay.

Where Milan is located in Italy

Milan, Italy:
Milan, Italy

get directions

Does Milan look like a city in which you would enjoy a vacation?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed. Thanks!

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    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Liza,

      It is wonderful that you have had a chance to visit Milan and see some of the sites. I hope that you will have a chance to return there in the future and enjoy more of what that city has to offer.

    • lizmalay profile image


      3 months ago from USA

      Peggy, I certainly love Milan. I had an opportunity for a short staying in Milan before departing to another city in Italy. Milan is a stunning city with magnificent architecture, historic buildings such as churches, cathedrals, galleries, arts, and much more. I would love to go visiting Milan anytime. Thanks for sharing the post. It brought back my sweet memories in Milan.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      18 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rajan,

      Glad you enjoyed this post regarding the visiting of Milan. Our world is certainly filled with many attractions!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      18 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Feels good to be here once more. A city with amazing architecture, buildings and a lot of history it would be a joy to visit. Thanks for this informative article and awesome photos.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      23 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Ethel,

      I would also enjoy seeing an opera at La Scala as well as doing many other things in Milan. Hope your dream comes true someday.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      23 months ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Marvellous. I would love to visit La Scala for a night at the opera

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Mary,

      It is wonderful that you have been able to travel to so many places around the world. Nice that you have gotten to see parts of Milan while on your way to Switzerland.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Hi Peggy. This is a beautiful hub on MIlan. We used to get our car rental from here when we visited family in Switzerland and enjoyed this city. Though industrial, there are some pockets one can explore and enjoy.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Cassidydt,

      It must be fun living in Milan! I know what you mean about not rushing out and seeing local sites when you live in a place. We have recently been doing more sightseeing in our own city of Houston and it is fun and educational. Enjoy your time in Milan.

    • Cassidydt profile image

      Cassidy Dawson-Tobich 

      6 years ago

      I love Milan, have been living here for 3 months, though I haven't seen all that much just yet, which is bad, I know haha. Thanks for some insight, as I need to start making an effort to see things. I guess knowing I am going to be here for awhile gives me a reason not to hurry lol

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Kalmiya,

      Nice that you have been to Milan and have gotten to see Leonardo's Last Supper in person. I don't think that my husband had a need to take the subway while there. Interesting that it is done in black. Wonder why? Thanks for your comment.

    • Kalmiya profile image


      7 years ago from North America

      Hi Peggy, Thanks for your great photos of Milan which reminded me of my two visits there. I saw The Last Supper and it was an interesting experience. It is now in an air-controlled environment and they let in only small groups of people at a time through glass partition doors. The restoration work looks quite good. One thing I didn't like about Milan is that their subway system is entirely black colour! Thanks.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Vinaya,

      Thanks for taking your armchair tour of walking and seeing some historic sites in Milan, Italy. Appreciate your comment.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      7 years ago from Nepal


      Your travel hubs are amazing. I love the way you give personal touch to your descriptions. As an arm chair traveler, I enjoyed sightseeing in Milan.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rajan,

      Thanks for visiting Milan via this hub and my husband's photos of what he got to see in one day while there. It does look like a fabulous city to visit. Appreciate your votes and the share.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Peggy, the Milan tour is just awesome. Voted up and awesome and sharing.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello QudsiaP1,

      So glad that you enjoyed this virtual tour of Milan, Italy. My husband loved what he got to see and do while there. Thanks for your comment.

    • QudsiaP1 profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub; thank you for the lovely tour. :)

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Cheryl,

      Bruce is fortunate to have been able to spend a slight amount of time outside of his business to be able to see the sights in Milan that he did. Obviously a person with more time could enjoy that city for many days without running out of things to do and see. Thanks for your comment.

    • Cheryl J. profile image

      Cheryl J. 

      8 years ago from Houston, TX

      Another beautiful city with great architecture. I would love to visit Milan. You have given great history, photos and videos of the beautiful cathedral Duomo. The architecture, art and history is absolutely one to treasure for a lifetime. Interesting and wonderful hub.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi alocsin,

      Milan is that also...a fashion and financial center, but as you now know it has many sites of a historic and artistic nature. Thanks for your comments and votes.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      8 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I didn't stop over in Milan on our last trip to Italy because I thought it was the capital of design and modernity, and didn't have much in the way of history and culture. Your hub disproves my assumption -- would love to have seen that Galeria. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Paula,

      Milan would be fun to see and be able to spend some time there. Maybe someday...! Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi agusfanani,

      Thanks for your comment and vote on this hub about Milan and what can be seen on a self-guided walking tour for people with not much time. It would be fun to see much more of this cosmopolitan city.

    • profile image

      Paula Jacob 

      8 years ago

      Very interesting Peggy! Would love to go there myself! There is so much to see!

    • agusfanani profile image


      8 years ago from Indonesia

      Milan is a great place indeed. I haven't been there but this hub tells me so many interesting things about this a city where some tourism destinations ranging from sight seeing, artistic and historical buildings, precious paintings up to religious tourism are well preserved here. Thank you Peggy, tt's an awesome trip and deserves voting up.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi 2uesday,

      I've seen photos of that floor mosaic in Milan's Galleria. If it is the same one you are talking about, I think it is under that domed section. Maybe it serves the same purpose as the Trevi fountain in Rome? Added another photo showing more of the floor.

      In any case, I would love seeing that and the art nouveau building and other places as well in Milan someday. Thanks for your comment.

    • 2uesday profile image


      8 years ago

      There are mosaics on the floor of the Galleria and it is customary to put your heel on one of the signs of the zodiac and spin around three times. I cannot recall which sign it is but I think it is meant to bring you good luck.

      Milan has an area where there is a wonderful Art Nouveau style building, which is worth seeing if you like the style.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Prasetio,

      So happy to hear that you found this hub on Milan helpful. Hope that you get to visit there someday and see it for yourself. Thanks for your comment.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Peggy, you still the best tour guide here in Hubpages. I always enjoy your travel hub, including this one. Every time I visit your hub, I always find the new one. This is one of the best work from you. I can't wait to visit Milan soon and I'll put Milan on my travel list. Great pictures and very well description. Good job and rated up!


    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi nifty@50,

      Hopefully I will get to see parts of Italy such as Milan and elsewhere in person someday. All of Italy has its own special kind of beauty from what I have read and seen. More hubs coming...all from my husband's travels to that scenic country, so stay tuned. Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Gene,

      All I can say is "me too!" Would have loved to have been strolling around Milan, Italy and seeing the great sites there. Thanks for your comment.

    • nifty@50 profile image


      8 years ago

      Peggy you have out done yourself! Italy is my favorite destination of all time and Milan and Rome are at the top of that list! Keep the great hubs coming!

    • profile image

      Gene Jasper 

      8 years ago

      Great hub. Sure wish I could have been with Bruce on that trip.



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