Milan is Italy’s second most populated city and is the main industrial, commercial and financial centre of the country. The city is also a major world fashion and design centre, with the likes of Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton popping up on every corner.
But this city has so much more to offer than designer boutiques and TheCity is here to help you explore it.
One of the main landmarks is the Duomo di Milano or Milan Cathedral, the fifth largest Cathedral in the world (which seats forty thousand people). This church has been written about by Mark Twain and was actually where denim was invented. They used denim because their clothes constantly ripped on the rocks and denim was tough. Years later Levi Strauss came to Milan and bought the material to use in everyday fashion. That is why Milan has an absurd number of Levi Strauss stores. One of the best things to do is climb to the top, via stairs or elevator and take in Milan’s splendid views.
The Galleria is located right beside the Duomo and is one of the oldest shopping malls in the world, dating back to 1861. Unless you are packing serious cash you can expect to do a lot of window shopping as this is the home of Dolce and Gabbana, Valentino, Roberto Cavalli and Versace, to name but a few . You will normally see a crowd of people in the middle taking turns doing something –they are spinning on the bull’s balls for good luck. G’wan, give it a go!
Next stop, right near the Galleria is Luini (Via Santa Radegonda,16 20121 Milano), which sells panzerotti, a typical stuffed savory pastry from Puglia, brought to Milan by Giuseppina Luini in 1949. It is dough with fresh ingredients inside of it, so soft and good. It’s super cheap as well and you can make an amazing meal out of it. The line will look big but it moves quickly and is beyond worth it.
Right across the road from Luini is Cicciolatitaliani, the best gelato shop in Milan. Not cheap but so unbelievably worth it. Tip: grab a ticket to stand in line at Cicciolatitaliani before you go to Luini if the line is super long, you could be waiting up to a half an hour for your Gelato.
From there head east a few blocks (a compass may be useful at this stage) to the Rectangle of Gold. You won’t be buying anything there because it is so outrageously expensive, a shirt would set you back a mere €40,000. However, it is a really cool place to window shop.
Check out Castello Szforcesco, the home of the former Milanese Royal family. The castle has a ton of museums but if you are tight on time, you don’t need to go see them. One of them houses The Rondanini Pietà, the last sculpture Michelangelo was working on when he died.
When you walk through the Castle you end up in Parco Sempione. Don’t go after the sun sets because it can be super sketchy, but during the day it’s beautiful. Grab a cheap bottle of wine and some cheese or meat and hang out there for a little bit.
If you’re looking for the best coffee in Northern Italy, there is a street called Via Dante, which is basically packed with amazing cafés. A little tip for you is, it’s cheaper to drink your coffee when standing. One cannot visit Milan without ordering at least one shakerato – it’s Italian iced coffee and will blow your mind. Try Caffé Milano (via Dante 13/15) they do a great shakerato.
A trip to Milan is also not complete without visiting the canals. Not many people know of their existence but they were built in order to transport stone to Milan from other parts of Italy and Europe to build the Duomo. A great place to head to is Piazza Ventiquattro Maggio, it’s where several of them meet and there are great restaurants along them with seating outside, we really liked the young hip vibe you get from this less touristy part of the city.
Here around 6-9 PM you can find aperitivo which is a very Milanese tradition and I strongly suggest you do it. You buy an overpriced drink (7-10€), then you get to eat unlimited food from the buffet. My favourite place is called Spritz and is a two minute walk from the Piazza.
For night life, you can head to Colonne where everyone will be drinking outside listening to music and just having a good time. Lots of students and lots of fun. It’s also very close to the Piazza. If you wanting to go clubbing in Milan, it usually depends on the night. The clubbing scene changes based on the month, so ask your hostel or hotel for more information.
With respect to eating dinner out, anywhere that is five blocks away from a tourist trap and doesn’t have an English menu is likely to be more authentic and usually much cheaper as well.
Finally, Milan is also the home to one of the most famous paintings in the world. Da Vinci’s The Last Supper is located in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, and is incredible to see, however, you must book tickets well in advance, especially during the summer months.
So there you have it folks, now go forth and eat pizza and pasta to your hearts content… Caoi!