The major neighborhoods, streets, squares, and landmarks of Milan
Within the inner circle, once enclosed by the city walls, are many of the churches, museums, and shops that’ll consume your visiting hours.
For a general overview, obtain one of the serviceable maps with a street index that the tourist offices provide for free.
The very center of town
The city's major neighborhoods encircle the hub, Piazza del Duomo. Looking east from the Duomo, you can see the imposing Castello Sforzesco, at one end of the well-heeled Magenta neighborhood. You can walk to the Castello in about 15 minutes by following Via Orefici to Piazza Cordusio and from there Via Dante.
The other major draw in Magenta is the major draw in all of Milan: the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie housing Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper; to reach it, leave Via Dante at Via Meravigli, which becomes Via Magenta and leads to the church (total walking time from Piazza del Duomo to the church is about 20 min.).
Leading north from Piazza del Duomo is the city's glass-enclosed shopping center (the world's first), the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Emerging from the northern end of the Galleria, you'll be in Piazza della Scala, steps away from Milan's famous opera house, La Scala.
A walk northeast of about 5 minutes along Via Manzoni takes you to Via Montenapoleone and the Quadrilatero d'Oro, the city's high-fashion shopping district, the epicenter of Italian design. A walk of about 10 minutes northwest of Piazza della Scala along Via Brera brings you into the atmospheric Brera neighborhood, where cobblestone streets and old palazzi surround the city's major art collection, the Pinacoteca di Brera.
Another neighborhood to set your sights on is Ticinese/Navigli, often referred to just as the Navigli, which translates as "canals." A 15-minute tram ride due south of Piazza del Duomo, the Navigli's old quays follow what remains of an elaborate canal system, designed in part by Leonardo da Vinci, that once laced the city.
The moody charm of this area isn’t lost on prosperous young Milanese, who are converting old lofts and moving into former quarters of the working classes. The attendant bars, shops, and restaurants on the ground floors have appeared to serve their needs.
It's also the only part of Milan open in August.
You can walk to the Navigli in about 30–40 minutes from Piazza del Duomo by following Via Torino south to Corso Porta Ticinese, but a tram ride (or the Metro to Porta Genova) will get you there more quickly, in about 15 minutes.
Around Milan's Castello Sforzesco and Parco Sempione park in the NW corner of the city center
Central Milan's western neighborhood, S of the Castello and home to Da's Vinci's Last Supper
The area around Milan's public gardens, N of Brera (halfway between the central train station and the center of town)
The area around Milan's central rail station is actually pretty far N of the centro storico
A middle class shopping district N of Milan's historic center and just E of the central rail station
The NE corner of the historic center is home to the boutique of that shopper's Mecca, the Quadrilatero d'Oro (Golden Rectangle) or Quadrilatero della Moda (Fashion Rectangle)