I visited Italy for the first time in 2012 for Easter break with a group of friends. It was an interesting trip as my passport got stolen in Rome on Day 1, so for the rest of the trip through Italy (Florence, Siena, Pisa, Venice) I was absent minded just taking bunch of photos without really absorbing anything. The last stop was Milan after applying for new passport and a new UK student visa in Rome. For this reason the few days I spent in Milan waiting for my passport to come over by DHL were the most relaxed and peaceful as the difficult part was now over. I really liked the city and the calmness around the neighborhood I stayed. In April 2016 I got a job in Pavia and I moved to Italy, so now I live 30 minutes away by train from Milano Centrale. My first impression of the city back in 2012 was : busy yet calm, soothing and exciting at the same time. Although very different from other Italian cities and small towns, Milan has a unique charm which mesmerizes every tourist. With a brilliant metro system, it is very easy to go around the city and keeping the central station as the starting point, it is really easy to navigate around. Life in Milan is fast paced and it’s a paradise for shopaholics.
In the past 3 months I have visited Milan several times as it’s the centre point to go pretty much anywhere in Italy. Last weekend a friend from Hong Kong visited me and so we spent a weekend in Milan before heading off to Florence. So here a few tips on spending a weekend in beautiful Milano.
Places to visit:
- Duomo Cathedral
Duomo in Milano is by far one of the most impressive sites I have ever seen. The carving and architecture is so intricate and detailed it blows my mind. The cathedral is gorgeous from inside and so is the view from top. It’s almost a 250 steps climb but totally worth it. A combined ticket for cathedral entry and climbing up stairs is 11 euros and don’t forget to cover your shoulders and legs in order to get permission to enter into the cathedral.
- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Right adjacent to the cathedral, this Galleria is one of the oldest shopping malls in the world. In my opinion it is also the grandest shopping mall. With high end brands and lovely fancy restaurants around the gallery is full of stunning art on the ceilings and roof. There is also a bull mosaic on the floor which is always surrounded by tourists who put their right heel on the bull and run three times for luck.
- Santa Maria delle Grazie
Although I didn’t get the chance to visit this church this year, I have been to here back in 2012 and I highly recommend it. World famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci “The Last Supper” dating back from the 15th century is displayed here. The best way is to book your visit online in order to view the painting and you get only 15 minutes to appreciate it, so make it worth it.
Restaurants and cafes to try:
- Gucci Cafe:
Once in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuale II, don’t forget to try espresso at Gucci Cafe while people watching. It might take a while to get a free table, but it’s worth the wait. Coffee is almost 3 times more expensive than anywhere else in Italy, but it’s a good experience to enjoy a delicious espresso at a luxury café while in Italy.
- Ristorante Gatto Rosso
The restaurants at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II are all amazing (expensive compared to other places in Milano) but the service and food is brilliant. I had vegetarian pizza at Ristorante Gatto Rosso and I highly recommend this place.
- Ciccio Pizza
My friend and I stayed at Milano Hostel and so we explored the area in the evening walking around looking for a place to have dinner. In the neighborhood close to the metro stop of Loreto, we discovered an amazing pizza place: Ciccio Pizza. The pizza is made fresh in front of you and it’s as good as pizza in Napoli. I have spent a few months in Italy already and tried tons of places but the pizza I had at Ciccio has made a new benchmark for my expectations of pizza quality. Street address: Via Teodosio, 37, 20131 Milano. The place gets very crowded from 8 pm onwards so make sure to go early to get a table.
Day trips from Milano:
Since I have the privilege to live very close to Milan , I also try to do a lot of day trips. Two of the easiest and fastest trips from Milan:
- Lugano, Switzerland
There is a bus (Flixbus) which goes from Milan Lampugnano Metro station at around 1 pm and takes a bit over an hour to reach Lugano. The bus costs around 16 euros return for a day trip. From the bus stop it’s a mere 20 minutes walk to the lake. We went there to spend almost 6 hours by the lake reading a book and eating gelato (expensive gelato: since its Switzerland everything seems a lot more expensive as compared to Italy). Lugano is a beautiful town where locals speak Italian and there are beautiful parks and graffiti everywhere and the lake is the highlight.
Another easy destination from Milan is Como by train . it is merely a 40 minutes train ride and the tickets can be purchased on the day or online at trenitalia or go euro website. I went to Como by myself over the weekend back in May. It takes around 15 minutes to walk from the train station to Lake. Since my hostel was a two minute walk from the lake I spent most of the weekend at a cafe doing my Italian homework while soaking in the beautiful view. If you have enough time do try to visit the neighboring towns around the gorgeous Lake Como.