I never thought I would ever see myself writing a blog post on Milan. Or if anything it would have been titled: Don’t bother with Milan.
I recently returned from my third business trip to Milan and I’ll be absolutely honest, I despised the city the first time I visited, I just didn’t understand the hype behind it. It seemed like a cold, snooty, financial city.
Ok, my family are from southern Italy, so I might be slightly biased given the tensions between the north and the south, but the first time I came here I got this vibe that I wasn’t really in Italy, it felt more German. The way the taxi drivers spoke made them sound as if they felt superior to other Italians, and god help you if you mentioned you were from the south. I didn’t like it. I knew Italy as a humble, warm place.
Perhaps it was this first taxi ride that stuck this perception in my head that I couldn’t shake off.
The second time I visited, I got a taxi from Malpensa to the city centre (a fixed €95 fare FYI) and decided ok, I will make more effort and made conversation with the taxi driver, – we ended up talking about all sorts from the church and how the Italian youth no longer go, to his personal miracle experiences with saints – turns out he migrated north from Puglia. of course. A southerner. I hope I meet him again one day when I come back to Milan.
I also went for pizza one night after work and spotted a framed picture of Padre Pio, a saint from Pietrelcina, a town near my dads village – by the till, so I questioned the waiter and turns out it was a family run pizzeria by a family who migrated north 40 years ago. What I was starting to realise was, that truthfully, I was starting see Milan in a different way, but maybe because it was dotted with familiarity and the friendliness of the south.
With the need to come to Milano often for work, I wanted to try and get over my first impressions and appreciate the city for what it is.
So if you’re in Milano for a business trip or have found super cheap flights and want to get in as many of the important sights or the most important areas, then read on below for tips and must – sees.
Tip 1: Fly to Linate
There are BA, EasyJet and Alitalia flights to Milano Linate from London and it’s only 20 minutes (in a taxi) to central Milano. A taxi will cost you €25 which is much cheaper than the hefty flat price of €95 from Malpensa and expect to pay more than €110 if you go by Uber. When I arrived in Milano this time round I got the shuttle bus from Linate airport for €5 that went to Stazione Centrale (Equivalent to Waterloo/ Kings Cross), it was lovely and cold with the AC and they even had charging USBs. And my hotel was just a stones throw from the station.
Tip 2: Do not go in the Winter
The first 2 times I came to Milan was in October and the second time in March. Boy it was depressingly cold in March. Having just got back in mid June – temperatures hit 27-30’ and it was hot but it wasn’t unbearable nor was it too humid. The city comes alive in the sunshine, gone were the grey colours this city is renowned for. Great weather for a bit of weekend sun. And if you can bag yourself a rooftop pool hotel. WIN.
Tip 3: Take the Metro
A 24 hour Urban Ticket will cost you €4.50 and you can travel in all of the Milano districts. I think they have a pretty good service, trains come every 3/4/5 minutes, and they have 4G.
Tip 4: Prepare to pay high prices
Milan is expensive. And I live in London. Be prepared to pay London sometimes higher prices for drinks or food with views. An Aperol at the terrazza Bar will cost you €13 for the first drink, then €10 for following drinks. With this you get aperitivo snacks, and a fantastic view from the roof terrace.
Tip 5: Pack a pair of heels.
Milano is Fabulous. As one of the most affluent cities in Italy, the Milanesi ooze style and class. If you want to join the boujee Milanesi head to Armani club or Club Cavalli. If you’re looking for somewhere less fancy you could check out Navigli or the Brera district.
Must- see sights:
If there is one place in Milan you have to visit it’s this square. It houses one of the biggest cathedrals in Northern Italy and it really is quite striking. Would I bother going inside? Nah. As you approach the piazza with the Duomo in front of of you, turn left and you have…
Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II
Aperol Spritz has taken over. Quite literally. From London Pop ups to a new Aperol bar in Barcelona, the drink that comprises one part Aperol, one part Prosecco and one part soda, is one you need to enjoy at this terraza. Try to go at off peak times to avoid queues. And most definitely try and nab a seat outside.
Obicà – Mozzarella Bar
On the top floor of the Rinascente department store to the side of the Duomo, this place has delicious food. You can choose to sit outside, which I would totes recommend. Or don the Italian style and order your food al bar.
Having read a few blogs on hidden Milan I was desperate to find an area that didnt scream the hustle and bustle of tourists. A very pretty area
Known as the designer brands road, It’s worth checking out:
Dolce & Gabbana Martini Bar
If you have more time and are an opera buff perhaps book tickets to the famous Scala Opera – you can find it just behind the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II.
If you’re an art fan, make sure you also check out the Santa Maria Delle Grazie church that houses Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting. It’s highly unlikely to get a ticket last minute. So do prepare in advance.
One last tip: Ignore the snootiness. Having now visited 3 times I have to come learn Milanesi are different to the standard stereotype as you or I may associate with Italians. If you’re looking for gondolas and mandolins with pizzas in the piazza and on over protective mother of the house, you’re in the wrong city, head to Rome maybe Napoli. Milano is about style, class, facendo bella figura to look good.
I hope you enjoy Milano and please comment your trip tips too, I go back to Milan often so would love to check out new places.
Buon Viaggio x