Flights & Accommodation
An EasyJet flight to Milan Malpensa airport, then a taxi from there to our hotel. The taxi cost around €25 each and took around 45 minutes. We wouldn’t normally like to pay that much, but it was really late when we landed and we had no idea!
We stayed at the IH Hotel Milano Gioia, which was basic, clean, and really cheap. In a nearby supermarket, we found Peroni for like €0.50 a litre. The downside was that it was an hour walk away from the central sightseeing stuff.
We ended up using the Metro which cost €4.50 return and took us to the centre in about 10 minutes.
The main attraction in Milan is the Duomo. When we emerged from the Duomo metro station, the sight was quite stunning. It’s a huge, and very impressive, cathedral, adorned by over 3400 statues and 135 spires!
We went back every day to look at it, and one of my favourite things to do was to sit on the steps of the Museo del Novecento, with a coffee or some gelato, and just try and work out all the statues and figures.
There are loads of other beautiful churches in Milan. One of the most popular being the Santa Maria delle Grazie, which is a little further out. This is the church which houses Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper in the Refectory. You can go and see it, but you have to book tickets on the Milan tourism site (sometimes months in advance!) Oh, and the courtyards are like something out of one of my quaint Italian dreams.
If you turn away from the Duomo and walk straight down the road directly opposite, Via Orefici, you will come to Parco Sempione. It’s a dreamy place to walk on a sunny day. Inside, you’ll find the 15th century Castello Sforzesco; a castle which plays host to Milan fashion week in the courtyard! There’s also the Torre Branca, which is a huge tower offering awesome views of the city. I really want to go back and see the sights up there at night – it’s open until midnight! So anyone with pictures of that, I’d love to see!
I would say that we did stick to the central region around Duomo because, the further out we got, the more industrial the scenery became.
Milan is famous for its shopping opportunities – it’s one of the fashion capitals of the world, right? I have to admit, I didn’t find that it was particularly different to any other city in terms of the shops available, but maybe I was in the wrong place.
There is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II if your budget is a little higher, and all the high street shops you’ll be familiar with line the streets around the Galleria. Anywhere that has a Zara is alright by me.
We did have a wander into La Rinascente Milano, which is a department store. Even if you’re not into shopping, it’s worth popping out onto their roof terrace bar on a nice day for wicked views of the Duomo and Piazza.
If you do take the walk from Duomo down to Parco Sempione, you’ll see all the stores along that street, as well. I think I saw a Decathlon at one point, if you’re planning on picking up sporting equipment on your city break?!
When in Italy, gelato is important. The best one I found (pictured- these are small ones!) was a fresh-tasting, sweet strawberry from a little shop in the square of the Duomo. I can’t remember the name of it, but if you’re standing in the centre of the square, looking at the Duomo, it is directly to your right and the counter is right at the front of the shop.
You need to make a trip to Luini Panzerotti, but check the opening times and get there early because the queues were ridiculous – they had security! You can get loads of sweet and savoury fillings. Personally, I prefer sweet because panzerotti remind me of doughnuts.
I know it’s kind of a chain, but we absolutely loved the pizza at Spontini, so if you see one, try a slice. We still talk about it now!
B’s family are Italian, and his grandmother used to make him Milanese as a child, so obviously we had to go and find a great one! For our last night, we thought we’d splash out and try a very expensive restaurant near our hotel. Milanese was ordered and eaten, but it wasn’t the wow he was looking for. Turns out the food was actually really overpriced and the staff were pretty rude, so I stole a linen napkin to try and get my money’s worth.
Milan was a lovely place to visit, and I would go back for a day or two, but the absolute highlight of this trip for both of us was the day we went to Lake Como. We got the train from Milan Central to Como S Giovanni and I think it was less than €5 each. One thing to remember is to get your tickets validated at the little machines on the platforms before you board.
I really wish we’d spent more time here because I can’t even tell you how stunning it was. My photography skills aren’t capable of doing justice to the scenery here! I almost don’t want you to go, because I want it all to myself.
We walked down to the lake from the train station which was lovely and quiet. Everything was closed because it was Easter. Most of the bars and restaurants around the lake were open, however. It was beautifully quiet, although one bartender told us it wasn’t always the case and that you can struggle to move during peak season.
But, Como, as it was when I was there, was like *my* Italy. We did nothing but walk along the shore promenade, pausing to rest on a bench here and there, purchase more gelato, and have a few al fresco Morettis. I just loved the slow vibe and pace of life.
We wandered down a random lane and discovered a church, and the most oldy-worldy picturesque little square of pretty buildings. It was mostly restaurants emanating the smell of roasting tomatoes and slow cooking ragu. A guy was standing playing guitar in the middle of the square and it was just awesome and oh my god I want to live there.