A few weeks ago, I took my boyfriend to Milan to celebrate his 21st birthday. Admittedly, the San Siro football stadium was at the top of his agenda, but this did not stop us from spending a fantastic weekend exploring Italy’s fashion capital. Here is my selection of the best ways to make the most of your time in Milan…
1) The Duomo
The first stop on any savvy tourist’s trip to Milan is a tour around the city’s Duomo. Whether you wish to explore its decadent interior or casually wander around its perimeter, this is the most iconic selfie-stop in Milan. On a bright day, sitting in the Cathedral’s square is the perfect way to take in the ambiance Italy’s urban jungle has to offer. However, please take heed of a word of warning: in this quarter, both con artists and wreckless pigeons are abundant, so be prepared. On the bright side, Milan’s sight-seeing buses tend to converge in this central area, which is incredibly convenient for those wishing to explore every corner of the city.
2) Sforza Castle
For history fans, Sforza Castle offers a complex of museums, covering everything from niche interests (The Museum of Musical Instruments) to ancient tales (The Egyptian Museum). A beautiful set-up itself, the castle’s surroundings offer the perfect place to unwind with some traditional gelato. At only a stone’s throw away from the city centre, the Castle is definitely worth a visit, if only to admire how this formidable structure has been preserved so well in such a highly populated, modernised city.
3) Shopping, shopping, shopping
How one could leave Milan without indulging in its endless opportunities for retail therapy baffles me. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a must-see, if only for its stunning decoration. From Prada to Louis Vuitton, the gallery offers a chic cluster of luxury brands for lovers of high fashion. Nearby, my personal favourites, H&M and Zara can also be found, for those on a budget.
4) The San Siro Stadium
For all football fans (and accommodating girlfriends), a trip along the purple metro line to the renowned San Siro Stadium should be on the cards. Its sheer size is astounding and, arguably, completely necessary, given that it is home to both of Milan’s football teams: AC and Inter. On a visit to the stadium’s gift shop alone, the players will be there to greet you in all of their glory (well, not in real life, but their faces are everywhere). Don’t like one of the teams but love another? Not to worry, the store is well and truly divided, half of it drowned in blue, the other immersed in red. You could literally draw a line between the two sides of merch displays. For access to the stadium’s museum and tour, expect to pay around 17 euros per person.
5) Eat, drink, relax!
After exploring a city in full, it is always reassuring to have on-hand, go-to recommendations of where to eat, drink and relax (and how to avoid remarkably rude service). Frankly, restaurant service was very mixed in Milan, but in some eateries, it appeared as though waiters were going out of their way to be bullheaded with tourists (take Gino’s 1928, where the best thing about our dinner was the view of the Ferrari store across the street). Otherwise, for an evening meal, Di Gennaro produces some delicious, albeit small portioned, pasta. Be aware first-time tourists: any restaurant will include a variable service charge at the end of your bill (this may or may not include bread in return). For some self-love, central Cioccolatitaliani is the place to be: indulge in anything your sweet tooth could imagine, from sublime nutella pancakes to a few scoops of classic gelato. Finally, for a drink to close the day, Dry Milano offers a range of tasty cocktails served by the friendliest staff in the city. For more expensive tastes, the Moet- Chandon rooftop bar of the Rinascente department store is open until midnight and offers some spectacular sunset views.