Home of Italy’s stock exchange, and the internationally accepted arbiter of taste in fashion and design, Milan is a must see. Every street is decadently lined with designer shops, boutiques and cafés. But in true Italian style, this glamour is charmingly hidden in ancient architecture and beautiful arcades.
Where to Eat
It’s no surprise that Milan’s offers some of the most exquisite Italian cuisine the country has to offer. Overwhelmed by the hundreds of pizzerias and pasta joints I opted for The Grill restaurant on the seventh floor of the La Rinascente.
Il Bar, is a rooftop bar and restaurant that offers beautiful views and the most delicious steak burger I’ve ever have tasted. Famous for its goats milk mozzarella cheese, locals and tourists flock here for its mezze boards and fruity cocktails. However, I can’t write about this place without mentioning the breadbasket..…If you’re a fellow bread enthusiast this place will not disappoint, the rosemary and thyme infused bread soaked in extra virgin olive oil was enough to make me take a trip back to Milan alone.
Wandering away from the main shopping district along cobbled alleyways, we came across the coolest organic cafè, filled with busy city workers grabbing their healthy juices on the way to the office.
Juice Bar has a relaxed and cool atmosphere with cushioned benches, outdoors seating and Breakfast at Tiffany’s playing in the background, it was one of my favorite lunch time spots in the city. Serving indulgent yet healthy snacks, the options include pre-packaged fruit and nut pots, salad bowls and the most delicious frozen yoghurt with cinnamon granola, all great for taking out and enjoying in one of Milan’s park areas. Having jumped on the Matcha green tea bandwagon I couldn’t contain my excitement when I spotted the Matcha Nut smoothie on the menu, having to go back three times during our visit to get my nutty matcha fix.
What to Do
Milan isn’t Italy’s biggest tourist destinations so there isn’t a huge amount of sightseeing to do. I managed to get most of it done in one day, hear are a list of my must see sites:
Milan Cathedral – Duomo
5oo years in the making, and one of the worlds largest churches, this spiked Gothic cathedral that is the Duomo is one of the most breath-taking sites in Milan. Its dazzling white façade and bronze doors has made it one of Europe’s most famous sites. If you can’t face the 919 staircases to its rooftop thankfully there is an option to take the lift, although cramped and slightly cranky, In the 25 degree heat it was worth the extra five euros. If you are brave enough to take the stairs, don’t worry the views are defiantly worth it.
After the Duomo, Sforza Castle is Milan’s main attraction. The iconic red brick building is now home to several art galleries and historic museums. But it was what lay beyond the castle walls that I loved the most. If you walk straight through the castle courtyard you’ll find Parco Sempione, the city’s largest park. This beautiful green area is filled with stunning flowers and towering trees, giving you a welcome break from the shops.
Piazza di Duomo
The location of Milan Cathedral, Piazza di Duomo, is the hub of Milan’s city center. Lined with bars and restaurants you can spend many an afternoon here soaking up the city’s beautiful architecture and atmosphere.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Located off the Piazza de Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls and one of my favorite sites in Milan. Filled with designer shops, a Gucci café and Dolce and Gabbana Ice-cream parlor, the mall is the hangout spot for the rich and famous. However, don’t be put off by its initial extravagantness, the malls glass roof and painted walls are a must see, even if you walk straight through, buy nothing and get your just as tasty gelato and espresso from the much more reasonably priced cafè on the square.
Milan is the perfect city to walk around, the main sites aren’t too far apart and are all mainly located in the city center, but if you wanted to get a better feel of Milan and find some hidden gems, I recommend you hire the city’s bike. You do have to subscribe online but it takes 5 minutes max and you can subscribe for a day pass, which means you have un-limitless use of the bikes for the entire day. The city is equipped with bike lanes on many of the main roads so its really safe and easy to navigate you’re way around. Another massive bonus is, there are no shortages of pick-up and drop-off bike stations around the city, so you can conveniently hop on and hop off whenever it suits you.