After packing my life into two small bags, I embarked on the most wild adventure of my life, travelling directly from my temporary home of 8 months in Sicily, hitching rides through Italy, flying to Germany, swinging into Prague, flying to Greece, Budapest and then settling in Australia. I took way too many photos and have way too much to say for just a single post, so in no particular order, this series accounts my trip up until now.
I loved Milan. Lots of people say its “artificial” and “cold” compared to the rest of Italy, and I suppose it is a little bit, but nowhere near as “artificial” as North America so maybe I’m biased.
As a tourist however, there isn’t a whole lot to do. Unlike most popular Italian cities, it’s not extremely pretty nor is it overflowing with historical sites. Saying that, it’s still one of the most famous places to visit in Italy, fashion capital of the world, and is currently hosting the Universal Exposition – making it the perfect time to visit Milan.
5 Things to Do in Milano in 2015
Experience Expo Milano. Expo is unreal, an almost surreal experience. It’s the size of a small city or theme park so you’ll need about three days to do the whole thing properly. Most of us only have one, so you’ll just have to manage your time (and money cause it’s WAY expensive) wisely. It’s no surprise that Italy decided the theme should be “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, a discussion on the problems of nutrition and the resources of our planet. AKA a useful way to incorporate Italy’s greatest expertise: FOOD. The end result is a feast for the senses: visual, smell, taste, sound. It’s truly unique and it’s a sin to miss.
See the largest da Vinci collection exhibition ever organized in Italy. Everyone in the world knows SOMETHING about Leonardo da Vinci, but did you know some of his
technological inventions from the 15th century are still in use today? He was a genius, in art and in science, and in the year of Expo Milano 2015, the Palazzo Reale is hosting the largest collection of da Vinci’s paintings, drawings, sculptures and manuscripts ever organized in Italy. Audio guide and cloakroom charges included.
Spin around in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. One of the world’s oldest shopping malls and housed within a four-story double arcade in central Milan, the Galleria is named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. The glass ceiling and frescoes are so high and intricate, you’ll find yourself standing in the middle of the hall, craning your neck and walking in circles to see it all.
Go shopping on Corso Vittorio Emanuele. They don’t call it one of fashion capitals of the world for nothing – one of the best things to do in Milan is to go shopping. The Milanese are unsurprisingly stylish and you can find great shops from major outlets to high-end boutiques all over the city. Corso Vittorio Emanuele, just under the shadow of the Duomo, is the most popular shopping street in the city.
Admire the Duomo of Milan. I didn’t actually enter because (from experience) Italian cathedrals tend to be beautiful on the outside OR the inside, rarely both. But definitely spend some time to stare in awe at the incredible detail of its spires and statues.
Get up-close and personal with Da Vinci’s Last Supper. If you’re one of those art nerds like me, you’ll want to go out of your way to see Leonardo’s most famous masterpiece which is located in monastery attached to the Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Milan. Note that you’ll need to book an appointment at least a couple months in advance before you’ll get to have a chance to meet this famous work of art.
Escape the city in Milan’s biggest park. Sick of concrete and graffiti? Take a walk through Milan’s biggest green space, Parco Sempione, which sprawls around and behind Castello Sforzesco.
Get a drink by the canal. I’ve been to plenty of Italian cities but none of them – not even Rome – seem to have a nightlife like Milan! While the canals themselves are nothing compared to the charms of those in Amsterdam or Venice, the one in the Navigli district is lined with restaurants and bars (can you say, aperitivo??), and is lively every night of the week.
(Bonus) Where to Eat: We had delicious Napolean-style pizza at Pizzeria Piccola Ischia and ate like starving hyenas for only €10 at La hora Feliz‘s massive aperitivo. I highly recommend both places for some cheap grub!
With Expo Milano 2015 throwing the city into high gear until the end of October, now is the perfect time to visit Milan!
What do you think, am I missing anything? Let me know!