Piazza Mercanti

Piazza Mercanti ("Merchant square") is the former epicentre of the city where swords, hats and suits of armour were once sold in the middle ages.

TravelCurious Tip

Avert your eyes from the lurid McDonalds sign encroaching on the piazza; instead enjoy some modern Italian food at the family-run Ristorante Al Mercante

In the Middle Ages, Piazza Mercanti was the central square of Milan and the heart of the city. These titles may since have passed to the Piazza del Duomo, which holds the resplendent Milan Cathedral, but Piazza Mercanti is no less worth visiting — here you can find an authentic slice of the Middle Ages.

Back then the Piazza Mercanti housed the city hall, law courts and a prison. Weddings were also commonly announced here and, true to its name (Merchants’ Square), you could buy just about anything. The cacophonous crowds are no more, but the historic architecture remains: pay special attention to the Palazzo della Ragione and the Loggie degli Osii.

Bottoms Up

At the centre of the square there is a well, surmounted by two columns. Centuries ago a large stone was found there, known as the “bankrupts stone”. Those guilty of bankruptcy would be stripped here and have their naked bum exposed as penance.

Oh bej! Oh bej!

More or less translating as “Oh so nice! Oh so nice!”, this is the most important Christmas fair in Milan. It dates back to the 13th century, when Giannetto Castiglione, delegate of Pope Pius IV, visited Milan and sought to ingratiate himself by bringing sweets and toys for the city’s children. Ever since, a festival has take place on December 7th, with its name inspired by the cheerful cries of the children. Until 1886 it was hosted in the Piazza Mercanti, but it has since relocated and now takes place in the Sforza Castle — but they still hold Christmas markets here, too.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Milan
La Scala Theatre
La Scala Theatre (Teatro alla Scalla) is an iconic theatre built in 1778 which has consistently held the most famous opera and ballet performances in Milano.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the world's oldest shopping malls and it's known locally as "Milan's drawing room".
The Milan Cathedral
The spectacular Gothic Milan cathedral took 600 years to build and it's an iconic landmark of the city. Its construction began in 1386 and was completed with all its final details in 1965.
Museo Poldi Pezzoli
Founded by Gian Poldi Pezzoli this art museum holds a wide variety of Italian and Northern European work.
Chiesa San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore
San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore is a royal church built in the 16th Century in the historic centre of Milan, with stunning frescos that often go missed by tourists.
Duomo di Milano
The Duomo di Milano or the Milan Cathedral is an emblematic gothic Church that serves as the seat of the Archbishop of Milan.

Related Tours

Explore Milan in a Day: Private Full-Day Tour including Sforzesco Castle
Explore the many cultural and architectural highlights of Milan, and learn about its long and varied history from a humble village in the 6th century BC to an important Renaissance stronghold, to the modern financial and fashion centre of Italy today. 

On your private full-day tour, you will:

  • See the famous Teatro Alla Scala, one of the world's oldest and most famous theatres;
  • Walk along the iconic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, with its luxury fashion shops and the famous quadrilatero della moda;
  • Pick up invaluable recommendations, advice, and tips on finding the best, local food as you explore highlights and off-the-beaten-track side streets;
  • Stop for photos at the famous Duomo, Milan’s stunning centrepiece;
  • Visit the Chiesa San Satiro, known for its false apse, an architectural optical illusion, attributed to Donato Bramante;
  • Wander through Piazza degli Affari and hear about the meaning of Il Dito sculpture;
  • Learn all about modern life in Milan while taking in the atmosphere and the beauty of this vibrant city;
  • Admire the Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore with stunning frescos that often go missed by tourists;
  • Enjoy a Lunch break at one of the best city spots! - Lunch not included
  • Enter the famous Sforzesco Castle, once the residence of Royalty and enjoy a guided tour of the courtyards and the Museum; 
  • See the last incomplete work by Michelangelo, the Pietà, a meditation on death and the salvation of the soul.

Experience the vibrant atmosphere, stunning architecture, palaces, museums, mansions, churches, modern shopping galleries, and the beautiful parks at the heart of Milan, Italy’s most fashionable city on this full-day tour of the city highlights. 

Milan began as a humble 6th-century Celtic village and grew into one of Italy’s most prosperous cities. While it is a large city, the highlights are easily navigable on foot, on this full-day walking tour with your private guide. Experience both modern Milan, with its financial district, and fashionable shopping in the dazzling Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II - home to the major fashion houses like Gucci and Versace, Armani and Ferragamo, as well as its venerable history, from castles to churches and old market squares. 

Stop outside the Duomo for some holiday snaps – the famous centre point of the city with its Gothic-style spires, and an astonishing cathedral that took over 600 years to complete. 

Visit the historic Piazza Mercanti – the medieval hub of the city where swords and suits of armour could be bought and sold. It is surrounded by several grand old buildings which your guide will introduce you to Palazzo della Ragione, Palazzo delle Scuole Palatine, Palazzo dei Giureconsulti, Casa dei Panigarola & Loggia degli Osii. 

End your tour with a private guided tour of the iconic Sforzesco Castle including the courtyards and the Museum . Admire the last incomplete work by Michelangelo, the  Pietà and other renowned artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci. 

Please note that some rooms at Sforzesco Castle might be closed due to restorations.
Half Day Highlights Private Tour of Milan with Da Vinci’s The Last Supper
Experience the very best of Milan, on this four-hour private walking tour of the city highlights, including tickets to see the iconic painting of “The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci in Santa Maria Delle Grazie. On your private tour you will: 

  • Enjoy the personal attention and meaningful insights from your private guide.
  • Explore the city highlights and some hidden gems.
  • Learn the history of Milan and the people that created the city – from a humble Celtic settlement two thousand years ago, to a Renaissance powerhouse and today’s thriving financial and fashion centre. 
  • See some of the most iconic buildings, piazzas and monuments in Milan for some fabulous photos, including the Duomo, Castillo Sforzesco – and its magnificent park, the Royal Palace, the Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore and the ancient Columns of St. Lawrence, Piazza Mercanti and Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio. 
  • Stroll along with the exclusive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, home to Milan’s haute couture and admire La Bella Figura
  • Finish your tour with tickets including seeing Da Vinci's painting of "The Last Supper". Please note: your guide will not join you for this portion of the tour. 
Milan is a vast, modern city, which plays an important role as an Italian economic and industrial hub. However, behind this industrious veneer lies a city steeped in history, culture, and fashion. The majestic churches and cathedrals contain stunning frescos and architecture that cannot be missed, and the world-renowned fashion district is a fascinating place to explore. 

You will see all the major highlights of this prominent Italian city, including Theatre la Scala (external only), an iconic theatre built in 1778 which has consistently held some of the most famous opera and ballet performances. Enjoy a stroll in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest shopping malls and experience the fashion hub of Italy with its exclusive shops and haute couture. This vast emporium is known locally as "Milan's drawing-room" and is built with an impressive glass-vaulted arcade design.

Visit the fascinating Piazza Mercanti or "Merchants Square" where swords, hats, and suits of armour were once sold. Explore the adjacent Sforza Castle, the former home of the ruling Sforza dynasty for centuries. It now holds some of Milan's most important artistic work. Pop into churches, and admire ancient ruins, before coming to Cenacolo Vinciano the world heritage site, which contains the world-famous mural of Da Vinci's The Last Supper. 

Da Vinci's iconic mural depicts the moment Jesus realises that he will be betrayed by one of his disciples, and of course has been made mega-famous by Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”. 

Please note that the visit to "The Last Supper" lasts 15 minutes due to Covid restrictions at the site.


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