If you follow me on twitter you’d have seen that I have just come back from 4 days in Milan. Here’s what I thought of the city that is famous for Fashion!
I only took about 3 weeks to plan this trip, my mum and a family friend were going so Jonny and I just tagged along, because winter sun, cheap flights and Italy what is not to like?
I (Jonny flew out on the evening flight, I hadn’t lost him!) flew with Ryanair from Stanstead to Milan Bergamo Airport. When I first saw the flights they were only £28, but by the time my boyfriend faffed around they had g0ne up to £88. So naturally I was a little pissed I’d missed out on the bargain! Once in Milan I simply hopped on the coach that was leaving the soonest from outside the terminal, it was only €5 (N.B. check the electronic boards as they will all say they leave next and even then they may not leave on time). I walked the 45 minutes to our hotel, not realising how simple the underground was to use.
Over the few days we were there we mainly walked, however it is worth looking at using the underground, especially at night. It’s only €1.50 per journey or you can buy a 24/48 hour ticket for €4.50 and €8.25 respectively – allowing you unlimited travel on all forms of public transport in Milan. CityMapper was great for working out the quickest way to get around the city. I only used the underground, however I helped my mum and her friend book a few overground train tickets before I left, this was super easy – the machines can all be used in English and a lovely conductor also explained how to register the tickets, in the yellow machines, on the platforms.
On my way back I caught the bus from outside Milan Centrale Station, these leave every 20 minutes or so during the day, I’m not sure how often at night. Again they were only €5, everyone will tell you theirs is leaving first, but in reality they leave when they are full. Ordinarily, I’m terrible for time keeping, but when an airport is involved I have to build in lots of contingency time.
Accomodation: B&B Hotel Milano Censio Garibaldi
We were super lazy and simply went along with the 3 star hotel my mum and her friend had booked. They got it for the bargain price of £35 per night plus €3/night city tax on one of the comparison websites (I forget the one, I know #BadBlogger). We were not so lucky, however a little research and a search around found it was cheaper on the hotel’s own website. We paid €172 in total, everywhere else was over €185. Small but nonetheless a saving.
I have to be honest at £50 a night I was not expecting much from this hotel, but the room was fantastic. I could not fault it, it was just what we needed; clean, bright and comfortable (so comfortable I fell asleep fo 6 hours on arrival). There were no frills, but the wifi was free and the staff were very attentive and kind. Even the toilet roll had paper wrapped around it! I would compare the room to a Premier Inn in the UK. The location was not as central as I would have chosen, however we were right opposite a metro station and could get to town in under 15 minutes or walk it in around 35 minutes.
Food & Drink:
One of the main selling points for me with Italy is the fantastic food I love pasta, gnocchi and pizza. The first night I ate alone as the others had not arrived yet, I wandered the city with absolutely no aim but to enjoy Milan and waste time. I stumbled across a lovely pizzeria near the centrale station and ate a delicious Italian sausage pizza washed down with a Peroni!
The others arrived to a messy scene. I was being followed by a man and was only made aware of this by a kind local restaurant owner, who I’d chatted to earlier that day. He told me to wait inside and the man would pass in 5 minutes. He did not leave so while the restaurant owners used some force to remove him from the area, my mum and her friend arrived and with my boyfriend just moments away it seemed sensible to use this as a meeting point. We grabbed a few beers and a few more, the weary travellers some food. Well we all nearly died when the bill came in at €235 – it turns out it had been €13 a pint, but seen as we had seen the force they used earlier and they had rescued me. We decided it was probably best to pay it.
The second night we ate at a restaurant called La Cantina Del Giannone it was incredible. We knew it was ging to be good as it is rated 22/6,558 restaurants in Milan. We had the Beef Tartare and Mozerella with ham to share for a starter and I had Il Filetto alla Rossini – filet steak topped with foie gras for main. The others had pudding’s I had a coffee and wine! Our waiter helped us with the wine choice and found us one that was not on the menu for €25, which was sublime. For all that it still only came to about €180, I was blown over, I’d consider flying to Milan if the flights were still cheap in the future just to dine there!
As was to be expected the all the food was incredible, including this spaghetti carbonara I had overlooking the Sforza Castle.
I cannot help but mention how insanely good the coffee was in Milan, even at the gate to my flight I had to stop off for a final one before I left.
Activities & Culture:
As I said earlier I had not really explored Milan too much before everyone got there as I had been sleeping and the night had not been the best impression of what Milan had to offer. First thing the next day we headed to the Cimitero Monumentale di Milano as our hotel was just the next street along. This place was incredible, the memorials ranged from a simple plaque on a wall to a whole monument – with everyone seemingly wanting to outdo one another!
Next was the Duomo di Milano – the cathedral in the centre, it is breathtaking the detail is incredible. Queues to go inside can be very large and it is recommended you book fast track tickets, but there is still a long wait for these, so we didn’t bother. Milan on the weekends is not what I would describe as a relaxing break – there are lots of pickpockets and street traders about, so you have to constantly be on the look out for trouble (this is especially rife around the cathedral). Next door is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – one of the oldest shopping malls in the world and a sight to behold it really allows you to get a feel for this city of fashion.
Finally we visited the Sforza Castle this was beautiful and absolutely steeped in history and bloodshed, the sheer size of it gives you and idea of the power that came from occupying this vast fortress. There are many beautiful frescoes were plastered over in order to convert it from a palatial residence to a military barracks. It is free to enter and use the outside space, there are other special exhibitions to explore. Unfortunately we did not have time to take a look at them on our whistle stop tour!
We also took a brief trip up to see the San Siro Stadium at Jonny’s request. Other than that there was nothing too memorable we got up to, as there simply wasn’t time due to the short time we were there and staggered return flights. We did do a lot of walking and taking in the slower and calmer Italian way of life.
Despite all of Milan’s stresses and woe’s I am glad I went, it was an experience in itself. I won’t be hurrying back to Milan, but I do want to go and do Modena, Verona, the lakes and St. Moritz, which are all a stones throw away. So maybe I’ll go back in passing. I did notice a dramatic decrease in pickpockets and street vendors during the week, so maybe it is worse on the weekends when people come in for city breaks, I don’t know. What I will say is the hotel was fantastic and I will certainly be considering them for any other trips I plan. All in all, I think the most important lesson I learnt was to plan ahead and do your research, that way you won’t be as disappointed when your unsubstantiated assumptions don’t come true!
Let me know in the comments if you have ever been to Milan and what you thought of it? Or if you are planning to go, what you are looking forward to doing?