Itinerary: “Institutions and Jet-Set”

This is an itinerary to discover the hidden gems of the most touristy area of Milan: the one near Duomo and Brera district.

Duomo, Monte Napoleone, San Babila, Brera and Missori

Time needed: 2 days

What to see

For most of people, This IS Milano. The elegant, cultural, historical centre of the economic capital of Italy. I will first suggest you the must-do monuments located in this area (it would be stupid not to): Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Teatro alla Scala, Pinacoteca di Brera and Castello Sforzesco. Via Montenapoleone is way overrated, in my opinion.

Now, I can go on and tell you my personal must-do in this area of Milano. There are some well kept secret that I want to share with you right now, that will show you how Milano is in no way worse than any other European capital in terms of charm. You can find the following suggestions also pin-pointed in the map at the top of the post.

  • Piazza Sant’Alessandro: it is probably the most beautiful piazza in Milano thanks to the white baroque church of Sant’Alessandro. It is a gem well hidden in the middle of the most touristy part of Milano. Crossing the square you will feel like you have been teleported in Rome. Take your time, and stop here for an aperitivo; you won’t regret it! And it’s FREE!
  • Università Statale headquarters: it is an amazingly huge and antique renaissance building just behind Piazza del Duomo. It hosts the seat of the public university UniMI, so stopping by here you will experience the daily life of an Italian student; you will see them crossing the grand arches and stairs of the cloisters that form the complex and you might even be able to sneak in a class. Or just choose your spot in the sun in the cloisters and relax for a little while doing some people-spotting. During Fuorisalone this complex becomes the location of some of the most majestic site-specific installations from international designers, which makes it one of the most interesting places in your to-do list for about one month (April). And it’s FREE!
  • San Bernardino alle Ossa church: have you ever seen a chapel completely decorated by actual human bones? Well, in Milan you can. This church is conveniently located not far from the University HQ and not so far from Piazza del Duomo either. And it’s FREE!
  • After visiting Pinacoteca di Brera (the Milanese sister of Museo degli Uffizi in Florence) do as the smart local do: don’t miss the Orto Botanico di Brera. It is conveniently located just behind the building where the Pinacoteca di Brera Museum and Academy are located and we might even call it “the Secret Garden of Milano” since not everybody knows that such a beautiful green place full of flowers and trees is located in the heart of Brera touristy neighborhood. And it’s FREE!
  • Pinacoteca Ambrosiana: if you are into Renaissance art, you can’t skip it even though it is less well-known compared to the Pinacoteca in Brera. Here you will be able to see some masterpieces from the most important Italian Renaissance artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Bramantino, Tiziano and Caravaggio. So, especially if you don’t plan to go to Florence or Rome, it’s a nice and easy way to see what is all the fuss about the Italian Renaissance due to.
  • Castello Sforzesco is not only a nice building with a big park (Parco Sempione) but it also hosts more museums that you would ever be able to visit on a stay in Milano. We especially like the Museum of the musical instruments and the Museum of Pietà Rondanini; this last one hosts the most touching statue ever realized by Michelangelo.
  • Some more interesting museums in the area area: Casa dei Manzoni, Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Museo del Novecento.

Eat and Drink

What to eat and drink near Duomo? After walking around so long, you will for sure feel hungry. If you want to have a truly Italian pizza (Neapolitan style with the soft border and thin crust in the middle) Sorbillo is Duomo is a no-brainer. Just be aware that – especially at weekends – you might wait outside a little since it is always full, so don’t go if you are in a rush. Our local tip is not to have coffee and cake hear (it would be more expensive and not as effective), but heading in Piazza Fontana instead. Here, look for Cafè Cimmino where you can find the best cafè and babà. Babà is a traditional Neapolitan cake infused with rum and Cimmino is the place where you can have the best Babà in Milano, with one the most delicious espresso napoletano in town.

Are you more keen on the man vs. food experience? So, we would suggest you go to Mary Burger, a 30 years old establishment that will show you the wild side of the fancy Milan with its rough, huge and tasty burgers and panini.

Camparino in Galleria is located in Piazza del Duomo in Milano

If you feel like having a cocktail we suggest you head to the historical cafè Camparino, which is located on the left at the entrance of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Piazza Duomo. The Camparino was opened in this same location at the beginning of the ’30s by Davide Campari (yes, the funder of the famous beverage company) and it is still decorated as it used to be then. Don’t be fooled by the very central location in the most touristy area of Milan: cocktails here can be very cheap, as low as 5.50 € for a MiTo! The only thing you have to remember is that here you have to drink standing, or if you sit down the price will be higher.

You can find more foodie suggestions in the map at the beginning of the post.

Travel Slow Score

Instagram Factor✪✪✪✪
Surprise Factor✪✪✪

How to get here

Useful Metro stops: Duomo (yellow and red lines of the metro), Missori (yellow line of the metro), San Babila (red line of the metro), Montenapoleone (yellow line of the metro), Cairoli (red line of the metro).

Come here if…

… you want to discover best-kept secrets in the heart of the touristy area of Milano.

To explore the other neighbourhoods of Milan, click here.