Up until now, all of my posts have included the word food in the title. This week I want to take a detour into the streets of the city that I live in, and why I find it to be so special. It’s ironic that when I was studying abroad in Florence, my American roommates asked me if I wanted to visit Milan during the weekend. My original and gut response was, “No, I don’t care about fashion so what would I do there.” Four and a half years later, Milan(o) has stolen my heart and is truly the place I call ‘home’.
Many people label Milano as:
Foggy, Chaotic, Rude, Grey, Snobby, Rich, Cold.
But really once you get to know her, you’re sure to fall in love just as I did. It might not be the typical tourist destination that comes to mind when thinking of travelling in Italy. Places like Venice, Cinque Terre, Rome and Tuscany come to mind first; but if your travels do take you to this wonderful country- consider Milan for these reasons:
1: The world is your oyster! Literally any street you turn down will offer coffee shops, wine bars, pizzeria’s, artisan shops, high end restaurants, pubs… the list goes on. Stumble upon hidden gems and traditional italian cuisine strolling on foot, renting bikes or take a ride on the historical trams. try some of the staples of Milanese cuisine: Risotto Milanese con Ossobuco (Saffron Risotto and Veal), or Cotoletta alla Milanese (breaded and fried pork/veal/chicken chop), or enjoy some gorgonzola cheese and local charcuterie.
2: Classic meets Modern: The duomo, which is at the center of attention in Milan, dates back to 1356 and is the one of the largest cathedrals in Italy.It’s gothic architecture and beaming marble shine out, shrouding the surroundings. Yet, when you turn a corner behind the Duomo, you step into a modern flood of stores and retailers. Gae Aulenti and Corso Como sizzle with modernity, chic glass structures and trendy bars that invite you in for a happy hour or quick espresso. Milan is full of all things traditional and classically Italian while elegantly intertwining with the trendy, modern and new.
3: Aperitivo: With 10 euros you pay for happy hour. Here happy hour isn’t just a few peanuts or potato chips.. it’s a buffet style dinner. Anything from lasagna, vegetables, meatballs, cheeses, fruits, pizza, pasta dishes– you get the idea! Take your pick of cocktail, wine or beer and you’re all set. Enjoy eating and conversing.
4: Sightseeing: Whether or not you love to shop, there is more than enough to see in Milan. What not to miss:
–The aforementioned Duomo. Climb to the top and enjoy the view of the piazza below. Visit the crypts and architectural site inside as well, while admiring the acoustics and stained glass.
–Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: Just a few steps from the Duomo, this glass vaulted galleria is full of boutiques and beautiful mosaics. (Tourist tip: locate the Bull Mosaic and watch as people from all over the world spin 3 times on their heel on the bull’s more intimate area for lack of a better word… Hey, it apparently brings good luck, so go ahead!)
–Go see Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper! (no explanation needed here)
–Visit the Church of San Bernardino alle Ossa. It’s unique and slightly creepy ossuary is completely covered in skulls and bones arranged on the walls and pillars. They are believed to be the skulls of those deceased in the Brolo hospital and of executed prisoners.
–Take a stroll to Arco della Pace and enjoy an Aperitivo and a walk in Parco Sempione. Take in the views of Sforza Castle.
–Head to Porta Genova to see the Navigli– Milan’s waterways and canals that were used for irrigation and transport of goods. (da Vinci had a hand in the construction of these canals as well!) Now Aperitivo bars, restaurants, antique markets line the Navigli, offering a great place to enjoy the nightlife or simply roam and eat a quaint lunch.
5: Perfectly Positioned: Mountains, Lakes, Med Sea: Make Milan your home base and enjoy the beauty of Northern Italy.
Milan sits on the doorstep of the Italian Alps, where the hiking, skiing and exploring is endless. Lake Como is another scenic treasure that is only about a 40 minute trip from downtown. Or finally, take a 2 hour train ride to the Mediterranean Sea and enjoy the beauty of Liguria and the Cinque Terre. If you’ve seen enough of the city, hop on a train and go for a hike on the seaside cliffs or dive into the crystal clear Med Sea.
6: It’s breathtaking! I know I am impartial, but I find Milan to be anything but grey, cold and unwelcoming. I’ve learned to love the hustle and bustle of this spectacular city. The beauty is everywhere. I personally think a label update is in order:
Come visit Vivacious, Outgoing, Radiant, Adventurous & Magnificent Milan.
Author: Ali @ Sustainable Psyche
My name is Ali. I am an American living in Italy. I am passionate about delicious food that is also ethical, healthy and sustainable. I love pasta and pizza, traveling, horseback riding and exploring the vibrant city of Milan that I call home.