Ever since I remember I have dreamt of visiting Italy as Italian culture, style and food have always been a source of inspiration and fascination. This summer I finally had the chance to visit Milan, the heart of the Italian fashion scene and location of Milan fashion week. The past few days have been spent people watching, climbing the stairs to the roof of the Duomo, visiting exhibitions and of course discovering some of the amazing shops, ristorantes and trattorias the city has to offer. Below you can find some of the highlights of my trip, including some useful tips and recommendations if you may chose to visit Milan yourself - buon divertimento!
Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II and Ristorante Savini
Take a seat at this local institution and watch time go by while having a coffee or Aperol Spritz and some of Savini's home made pastries. The food in the bistro part of the restaurant (facing the gallery) was fine but very overpriced - don't order the Caprese (tomato and mozzarella salad)! Nevertheless, it's a great place for people watching and to get some rest before climbing the stairs to the roof of the Duomo...
History and the most beautiful views - the Duomo
Of course you can't visit Milan without experiencing the Duomo, the third biggest cathedral in the world, which has been under ongoing constructions for centuries. The building is truly amazing from the inside and the outside, and there is an incredible sense of detail and craftsmanship in the variety of statues decorating the veneer. Of course Milan wouldn't be Milan if there wasn't some modern aspect present to break through the antique look of the church. A contemporary art exhibition showcasing works by Tony Cragg does exactly that and perfectly mirrors the characteristics of the Duomo. If you do chose to step inside the cathedral, make sure you bring a lightweight cardigan or scarf as you're expected to cover your arms.
Consumerism meets uniqueness - 10 Corso Como
I visited 10 Corso Como on recommendation of lovely Holly and various Milan guides as it's known as one of city's most hip and unique places. Take the Metro to Porta Garibaldi and cross the street opposite the 'bosco verticale' towards Instituto Marangoni, the established Italian fashion school.
The building complex, which is discretely hidden behind a residential looking entrance, includes a gallery, café and hotel, as well as a shop selling a selection of the most established and up and coming designers from all over the world - a must for anyone interested in fashion and design!
Feasting like the ancient Romans - la cucina italiana
If you want to try original, home made Italian food cooked by mamma, the simple trattorias and pizzerias are the place to go. Make sure the restaurants are outside of the very touristy center and look out for locals dining inside. We immediately felt at home at Ristorante Liu' on via Bartolomeo Eustachi and had the most delicious dinner including steamed vongole mussles, prosciutto e melone and fresh calamaretti. Always order the house wine, as it's usually great quality and end your dinner with an espresso - perfezione!
Food art and a green oasis - La Triennale and il Parco Sempione
We stumbled across the Triennale design museum by accident and were lucky to get free access with our Expo tickets (a report about the Expo is to come soon!). The Arts and Foods exhibition showcases a variety of objects, paintings, films and photography related to the subject matter making it very entertaining and visually appealing. We went into the museum at lunchtime to escape the heat of the Milanese summer and walked around the beautiful Parco Sempione afterwards.
In my opinion, one of the best ways to experience a city is to stay in a flat instead of a hotel - nowadays there are loads of useful websites, which make renting a flat super easy and there is a huge variety to chose from. We stayed in an Airbnb located in a residential part in the North East of the city, which was still conveniently located close to Lima and Porta Venezia underground stations. It's a great feeling to be able to cook your own meals from time to time, to have a place to unwind from the business of the city and to submerge in the local culture. One last word of advice: learn from my mistakes and make sure to book a flat with air-conditioning - Milano summers are hot hot hot and you don't want to spend the nights being disturbed by mosquitos (which there are plenty of, trust me!).
Ciao Milano, it's been a pleasure to get to know you!
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