Our first stop on our Italian adventure was the city of Milan. I didn’t really know much about Milan other than it’s the Italian fashion capital. When I was younger, I desperately wanted to visit Milan as I was going to be a designer, then I changed career ideas so Milan went out of my head. When I told people I was visiting Milan, I was met with a mixed response. Some told me it was a good place to visit or they were jealous whereas others told me there’s not much to do and it’s boring. With this is mind, I really didn’t know what to expect. I was looking forward to my visit but I wasn’t overly excited by it as I was with Venice and Florence.
After spending 3 nights there, I can honestly say I loved it! Sure it doesn’t have the same history as Rome or Florence, it’s not as unique as Venice and it may not have as many attractions as other major cities, but that’s part of the charm. Milan is chic, it’s stylish. I may even go so far as to say it was my favourite place that we visited. I would say it’s very liveable. In fact, since we’ve been home, I’ve been keeping a cheeky eye out for jobs in Milan!
Let me backtrack and explain my trip.
I was flying from Birmingham and my friend was meeting me in Milan as she was flying from Heathrow about an hour after me. I boarded my plane fine, flight was fine, got my baggage fine. When I switched my phone on I had a text from her saying there was bad weather over London so her flight was delayed by about half an hour. I text her back to let her know I’d arrived. As I didn’t get a reply I assumed she’d be somewhere over France. Unfortunately, after half an hour of waiting, she replied saying they were still at Heathrow. Great! That meant I had at least 2 more hours of waiting in Milan airport! I think I read nearly a whole book in that time. Also whilst I was waiting, a stupid poodle walked past my suitcase and cocked its leg up over it! Luckily I moved it out of the way before any real danger occurred! Who the hell lets dogs wander around airports???
Anyway, my friend arrived so that was good. Next task was to master Milanese public transport. We had several options available so decided to get the Malpensa Express train to Milan’s central station. It’s a flat fee and cheaper than getting a taxi, I recommend it, tickets are 12 euros for a one way journey, only takes about half an hour and the trains run regularly throughout the day. The trains are nice and spacious with plenty of room for luggage. Remember to validate your ticket on the platform before you board the train. You have to validate any ticket for public transport before you travel, if you don’t you could get thrown off and fined.
We made it to Milano Centrale train station easily, the next challenge was finding our hotel. Our hotel was slightly out of the city centre. We were determined to get a bus rather than pay for a taxi. The first obstacle was finding where to buy bus tickets. It turns out you buy them from tobacconists, we eventually found one in the station and the lady didn’t seem impressed by my lack of Italian and knowledge of what I wanted! We ended up with a 24hr bus ticket.
Next challenge: finding the correct bus! After walking around in circles and asking several Italian men, we discovered we needed either the number 64 bus or 92 bus, which we caught from over the road. We also remembered to validate our tickets on the bus! Our hotel was a 10-15 minute bus ride away. After a couple of missed stops and struggling with our cases (why didn’t we take backpacks?) we arrived!
We had a quick change, unpacked slightly then caught the bus into the city centre. We’re now experts on Milan public transport! As long as its the 64 or 92 bus! By the end of our 3 nights, we’d caught that many buses, we were practically locals!
I loved Milan city centre from the moment I first laid eyes on it. Clean, stylish, modern yet still historical and packed with Italian charm. We walked into Piazza del Duomo and marvelled at the famous cathedral and it’s spires then headed to find dinner. I had been dreaming of Italian food for months before! What to eat? Pizza or pasta?? I went with pasta and had bruschetta to start. Mmmmm belissimo! On the way back to the hotel, we stopped for an obligatory ice cream as well! When in Rome and all that.
The only bad thing about Milan was the weather. It rained every day we were there! On the first night there was a massive downpour which ruined my shoes. Trust me to bring Primark shoes!
Our first full day was spent exploring the city. We went in the cathedral, went to the roof (note to self: cover your shoulders if you want to be allowed in churches!), spun on the bulls balls in Galleria Vittorio Emmanuel II, walked to Castello Sforzeco and found Santa Maria delle Grazie. My biggest regret is that we hadn’t prebooked tickets to see The Last Supper. I definitely recommend you do this, especially if you’re visiting at peak season or are on a short trip. Next time…
I discovered there is a hell of a lot of stuff to do in Milan, it’s just Milan doesn’t shout about it and show off. She knows she has plenty to see and do and lots of hidden gems as well. There are no end of churches, museums, the royal palace, theatres and with Expo 2015 happening, there really is plenty going on!
My impression of Milan is that it’s cool, chic and stylish. I’d say Milan’s word is style. It’s like the cool, underrated cousin to Rome or Venice. Doesn’t try too hard but doesn’t disappoint. It just gets on with being it’s fabulous self. It definitely surprised me with how much I
liked loved it. Definitely a city I recommend and hope to return to!
Have you been to Milan?