A city marked by ancient history yet bursting with modern innovation, few places have captured my heart like Milan has, and it seems I am not the only one who is smitten. The world, too, has taken notice as Milan will be home to both the upcoming 2015 World’s Fair and the 2016 Design Expo.
The entire country of Italy is known as a beautiful place to enjoy history, art, food and breathtaking scenery. Perhaps this is why some tourists choose to skip over Milan for the staple Italian cities such as Florence and Rome. While those places are certainly worth the hype, Milan has all of the traditional Italian offerings while also being a leading economic global force and capital of innovation. Made up of nine zones, there is something for everyone in Europe’s fifth most populated city.
Here’s a snapshot of what a day packed with both modern and ancient adventures in Milan can hold:
In the morning, stop to sip a cappuccino and enjoy a cornetto in the Piazza Del Duomo Milano. Marvel at the impressive cathedral that took six centuries to complete. For a modern twist, head to the the Rinascente to enjoy your breakfast with a sky high view.
HOW TO GET AROUND
- Bike Sharing – Biking is one of the best and easiest ways to see Milan. The city makes it a snap for residents and tourists alike with a bike sharing program called BikeMi.
- Trolleys – What is more Milanese than a trolley? Hop on trolleys all over the city for an easy, fun way to get from site to site. Single tickets are available as well as day passes.
- There are also cabs, busses, and a subway system. The center of the city is very pedestrian friendly. There are day passes available that permit the use of all forms of public transportation. Definitely the way to go if you will be packing your day full of sites and stops.
In the afternoon, the circular city streets make perfect wandering paths that are home to some of the best shopping. The world’s oldest buildings now showcase the most current designers.
It would not be a true Milanese afternoon without a piadina. This thin, toasted flatbread filled with local cheeses, meats and veggies is a perfect quick lunch during a busy day of exploring. Not to be outdone, Cioccolat-I-taliani offers rich gelato that can be taken to go while exploring the architecture and gardens of the renaissance at the Sforzesco Castle.
SOME SIGHTS TO SEE
- World’s Fair – May to October of 2015 are the dates for the 2015 Expo. The theme of this year’s exposition is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” Located just Northwest of the center of Milan the 272 acre exposition will offer exhibits from countries around the world. It is expected to attract 29 million visitors, so be sure to do some research before attending. Here is a helpful website with ticket and other general information.
- Duomo Di Milano – An icon of Milan, this site does not require advanced tickets for viewing. Remember to bring a camera, and enjoy the Piazza for as long as desired. As a rule, it is best to avoid restaurants and shops directly surrounding the Duomo or other main tourist attractions for that matter. These places often do not have the best to offer in terms of food and faire and can be quite over priced. However, the Rinascente, a store located next to the Duomo offers a roof top restaurant on the 7th floor. After a quick walk through the store and a ride up the elevators to the 7th floor, guests can enjoy a fantastic meal while sitting eye level with the peaks of the Duomo.
- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – It would be a crime to visit Milan without making some time to shop. One option among many is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It is not only a mouthful to say, it is quite a bit to take in as well. One of the World’s oldest shopping malls now holds the latest haute couture. Also, legend has it that good luck comes to those who find the mosaic coat of arms in the center of the mall, place a heel in on the testicles of the bull and spin around three times.
- The Last Supper – The Last Supper, or Il Cenacolo, requires advanced planning. Be sure to get tickets ahead of time.
As the sun sets a whole new world of opportunity arises. The evening is the perfect time for an aperitivo of cocktails and small bites. A very Italian take on pre-dinner drinks and snacking that puts any happy hour to shame. Visit Bar Basso for the original Negroni Sbagliato.
PLACES TO DINE
- Unico –This restaurant is a bit more expensive but it does not disappoint. So, start saving now! Located atop the WJC Tower at Portello area, Unico boasts the highest Michelin star in Europe. This is not just dinner. It is an experience. An Unico meal perfectly showcases classic Italian dishes infused with the modern talent of culinary artists in Milan. Dinner comes with the best view of Milan.
- Les Pommes – Just north of the center of town, this French influenced Italian restaurant even offers an American style brunch on Sundays. The decor is simple and tasteful and the atmosphere is perfect for the younger artistic scene. I suggest making a reservation.
- Kebab pizzas – Combining turkish kebabs and Italian pizza, what’s not to like? Available throughout the city of Milan
- Piadinas – Can’t get enough of these delicious quick cheap eats.
- Granitas – Icy treats, think sophisticated and natural slurrpees. Available throughout the city of Milan.
Take in an opera at the world-renowned Teatro Alla Scala. For nearly 300 years famous singers and dancers have graced the stage and entertained guests from around the globe in this decadent theater.
Milan has all of the traditional Italian offerings while also being a leading economic global force and capital of innovation.
At night, the Navigli River is home to reflections of dancing twinkle lights and endless dining options. Stop in the Osteria di Porta Cicca where there is no need to rush dinner. Pore over the menu and study each local, homemade dish. Relish every bite and pair it with wine to bring out the intended flavors.
- ATM – A discotheque in an old public transportation station.
- Byblos – A true discotheque experience.
- 10 Corso Como – Great for cocktails and a calm atmosphere for enjoying the company of friends.
After dinner there is still plenty of life left in the city. A visit to the Corso Como and Nuova Porta showcases the old and new architecture of Milan living side by side. The open doors to discotheques reveal a vibrant music scene perfect for dancing with the locals until you see the sun once again.
A day in Milan. A modern, ancient world attracting architects and history aficionados alike. A fashion capitol, design force, foodies’ dream, football fanatic’s mecca, a world class city that is worth every bit of the journey.
Have you visited Milan? How did it reveal a different side of Italy to you?
Images via Paolo Balsamo
This article is so accurate! I’ve been living in Milan for the last 30 years! It really is an amazing city! One of the best cities in Europe! The only italian city where you can experience both the italian traditions and the taste of the most modern western lifestyle!
I also HIGHLY recommend, if you’re in Milan for more than a day, taking the train north to Lake Como. It was one of my favorite parts of my Italy trip. Also, I’m so glad you included Teatro Alla Scala….what a beautiful place! This makes me want to return to Milan so much!
You are so right Ava. Milan is the perfect city for short jaunts around northern Italy. A trip to Como or another northern lake, Lecco are totally worth it. if you are a fan of Lasagna try a trip to Bologna next time, the birthday place of the yummy dish!