I’ve been back in Bulgaria for some weeks now. I was itching and scratching to get somewhere. One day, randomly *like always* I asked a group of friends if they fancied to make a trip to Italy. Obviously, as you’re reading this post, they said yes.
Milan was on my bucket list for the last two years. I always planned to go but never got to it. With this said, you would imagine how excited I got the moment I got the confirmation email from RyanAir for my flight! Right after, I spent more than I should have scrolling through Instagram, reading TripAdvisor reviews and watching YouTube videos about the city.
A lot of people say that there isn’t too much to see in the city and it’s very industrial and grey, but nevertheless I went out with an open mind. Fashion capital of the world or not, Milan has the kind of understated charm that takes a while to appreciate. True, at first glance it may not look more than an average European city; but be warned: give it a few days and you’ll see there’s more to Milan than designer boutiques.After all, the beauty of travelling is uncovering the hidden gems of every city and engulfing in its culture. I believe that a small random city would be just as interesting as a big well-known capital or resort, if you go with the right mindset.
We planned our trip to be a longer weekend getaway, giving us three full days to explore Milan. If you ask me, it’s around the perfect length for such a destination. In total, we spent 2 days roaming the streets of the city and on the third day, we took a train to lake Como and spent the day on a boat, hopping from city to city.
Milan is right in the centre of North of the country, just a couple of hours from the Swiss border. Although it has its industrial-banks&business parts, the city has managed to preserve a treasure trove of gothic architectural wonders like the infamous Duomo and Arco della Pace, as well as authentic rattly trams to get around the city.
We arrived in Milan really early, so after dropping our bags at the hotel, we immediately went out to start exploring. We bought a Milano card, as well as a 48h travel card, so we had all the freedom to get to wherever we wanted. Considering it was our first day and we were also really tired, we decided to take it easy and not have a set plan for the rest of the day. We started off by getting lost, but eventually managed to find our way to the cutest pizza place called Pizzium. It’s a small local pizza place *duhh*, but it carries a unique vibe and, of course, amazing pizza.
After our stomaches were full, we headed off to visit the Arco della Pace – one of Milan’s most famous city gates. We stopped to take some pictures and chill for a bit. Definitely get up close to the arch, as it has some incredible hidden details, which are hidden from afar. Then we continued through Parco Sempione, which leads to the Sforzesco Castle. We then took another break, as it was boiling hot (bring water!) and continued to a more unconventional tourist attraction – a giant middle finger. This monument, ironically called L.O.V.E. is a statement about Liberty, Hate, Revenge and Eternity((Libertà, Odio, Vendetta, Eternity). After that, we spent the afternoon going on the old trams and just exploring the hidden streets of the city. Right before we went on the train back to our hotel, we caught a glimpse of the Duomo, which we were going to see the next day.
We started our second day early, as we had a lot of sightseeing and eating planned. Naturally, starting off with the eating, we headed to a small cafe called Panini Durini, situated right next to the Duomo. I was smitten with the variety of pastries and breakfast foods, so naturally I couldn’t just pick one. Apart from the tasty food and good coffee, the place is also very cheap, so I would definitely recommend giving it a visit.
Right after, we headed to get our tickets for the Duomo. I would suggest going early, as there is normally a massive queue and you will be waiting in the sun for a long time. We got our tickets in approximately 30 min and grabbed some scarfs from the street sellers to cover our legs. With the tickets, definitely get a Visitor Pass (A or B), because it gives you more access for cheaper – not only do you get in the Duomo and the terrace (a must!), but you can also go to several other places(The Duomo Museum, the archeological site, a crypt etc). Apart from being massive, the Duomo, the city’s beating heart, itself is a magnificent representative of the gothic style architecture, which took a mere 500 years to complete. After we got in, we wandered around the inside to see stained glass windows, impressive sculptures and wooden frescoes. Another must was climbing up to the roof for a view stretching all the way to the Alps.
Our next stop was Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – one of the oldest most luxurious shopping centers in the world, occupying an ornate glass-roofed double arcade. Our budget was way off the charts of the place, but it’s a beautiful building and you can always window shop and admire the arrangements of Versace and Prada.
As we were back on exploring the streets, we took a few stops to grab some Italian sweets like the canonoli and, of course, gelato. We visited a few more stops before heading back to the hotel to relax for bit, as we were very tired and hot. When it cooled off, we headed out for dinner and accidentally stumbled across another local Italian restaurant, which definitely filled up our pasta craving for the night.
For our last day, we hopped on a train to lake Como. We were planning to take a trip to Lugano, Switzerland, but it ended up being way too expensive and after researching a bit, we decided lake Como would be a better choice.
We paid 4.80 Euro for the train ride, which took about an hour to get to Como. From there, we got a pass for a boat, which let us explore a couple of the cities situated by the lake. It was an amazing part of the trip, not only because of the breathtaking scenery, but also because we got to see a very authentic and real Italy. Not the typical tourist cities, but the untouched ones such as Torino, Urio and Chernobio. I could definitely see myself going back just to stay at lake Como for a couple more days and explore these hidden gems further. It was definitely worth the day trip and I would definitely recommend to put it on your to-do list for a Milan trip.
Thank you Milan for uncovering your beauty to me. Thank you for the food, the architectural sites, the friendliness and the mini heart attack of almost missing my flight back. I will be back!