Milan is the capital of Lombardy, a province of Italy, and has a population of 1.3 million people, making it the second most populated city in the country. Not only is Milan the centre of business, commerce and finance in Italy, it is also a world-renowned fashion capital. This said, I’ve heard a few times that Milan doesn’t have the “wow” factor that many other Italian cities, such as Venice or Rome, offer. I completely disagree — I was enthralled by the city and loved every minute of our stay.
My boyfriend and I spent two nights in Milan at the beginning of March and, seriously, we both absolutely fell in love with the city. We both have a bit of a penchant for Italy (having been to Rome, Florence and Venice in the past), so we knew we would like Milan, but I was truly surprised by how much I wanted to stay. We arrived by bus from Innsbruck and met up with our AirBnb host to get the keys to our apartment, which was pretty central, not too far from Parco Sempione. We also got a 48 hour ATM pass (for only 8.50€, totally worth it) which allowed us unlimited travelling on the public transportation network for 48 hours (obviously). We made our way to our apartment, settled in, and then went out to explore!
Our first stop was Parco Sempione, since it was nearby. We started out at Arco della Pace (the Arch of Peace), and walked through the park until we arrived at Castello Sforzeco (Sforza Castle). Visiting this castle was great! It was free to enter the castle grounds, and there are a few museums you can visit that aren’t too expensive as well. We even got lucky — As we were heading into the gallery that has Michelangelo’s Rondanini Pietà, the man at the ticket office told us that if we waited 20 minutes or so, the museums were free for the last hour! Thus, we were able to see the Rondanini Pietà and visit another museum at the castle for free. Afterwards, we continued our promenade, checked out a couple churches, had a glimpse inside the Pinacoteca di Brera, and then went back to our apartment to grab a bite to eat and get ready for the football game.
We took the metro to San Siro Stadium about an hour before the game, and boy was it packed with fans. From the metro station to the stadium, there are many kiosks selling food and souvenirs, which is great if you want to grab a little something to eat before the game. Once we got to the stadium, we got in “line” (it was more of a semi-organized cluster) and eventually entered the stadium and headed straight for the official gift shop to get a couple souvenirs. Then we found our seats and enjoyed what was unexpectedly a very tight (but unfortunately rainy) game. We headed back to our apartment afterwards, in a very crowded metro, but all-in-all it was a great first day in Milan.
On our second day in Milan, we headed to Piazza del Duomo by tram to meet up with a tour guide for a free tour of the city. (By the way, just a side note here, always check if there is a free tour available in whatever city you’re visiting!!). Before finding him, we stopped by a caffetteria and had a quick breakfast. The tour itself was very informative and we saw a few things I would not have thought of visiting, including la Chiesa di San Bernadino alle Ossa and the Scala Opera House. After the tour, we bought the Duomo Pass (11€), which gives you access to the rooftop terraces, the Duomo itself, the Duomo Museum and the Baptistery of San Giovanni alle Fonti. We visited the museum, which is located in the Palazzo Reale, and decided we would come back the next morning for the rest, since the line up for the Duomo was quite long. We also visited a few gift shops, walked around the Galeria Vittorio Emanuele II (my new favourite mall) and went to Panarello, a little bakery not to far from Piazza del Duomo, that was recommended by our tour guide, to get some cannoncini, which are amazing cream filled pastries. We then headed home for a little rest before heading out to diner to Eataly, which was recommended by our AirBnb host. This place was really neat, it is a grocery store with only local Italian products, and it houses a few restaurants as well.
The following day, our last day in Milan, we headed back to the Duomo and were practically the first in line to visit for the day. We got to see the inside of this beautiful cathedral and the archeological crypt below it (Baptistery of San Giovanni alle Fonti). We then headed up to the rooftop, from where we had an unbelievable view of the city and of the Alps. Afterwards, we grabbed takeaway pizza for lunch and headed to the Borsa di Milano to check out the middle finger sculpture in front of it. We then visited a couple more churches, including the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio, and then sort of stumbled upon the Biblioteca (and Pinacoteca, which is housed inside the library) Ambrosiana. This was on my list of things to see in Milan, but wasn’t really a priority, so it was a last minute decision to head in that direction. This said, I’m SO glad we got to visit it! The building itself is beautiful, with stunning marble staircases and a lovely courtyard. It is home to some beautiful Renaissance art and an impressive collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches. It also has a beautiful replica of Da Vinci’s Last Supper — the original can be found at Chiesa Santa Maria delle Grazie, which we unfortunately did not end up visiting since the Biblioteca Ambrosiana was our last stop before heading back to Innsbruck. Needless to say, we ended our stay on a high note with this visit, and we weren’t really ready to head back to Austria just yet!
We honestly loved Milan and can’t wait to visit the city again someday. If you think we missed anything that is a must, let me know in the comments below!