6 November 2014

Suitcase. Milan, Italy - Travel Guide

When it comes to European travel, Italy has always been at the top of my list. A country filled with pizza, pasta, gelato, breath-taking coastlines, iconic historical buildings and postcard-worthy beaches ranks very highly with me; not to mention that my grandfather came from there. It has always been my intention to do Italy in one big chunk so I can truly immerse myself in the country – I’m talking hiring a car and driving around for 3 months. But now that I’m so close, being here in London, I thought I ought to pop over there to whet my appetite. It was a big choice deciding where to go for my first visit to Italian soil, it needed to be somewhere I could do in a weekend and somewhere that I would enjoy even though I was by myself – Milan was the perfect choice. My two-day adventure was just wonderful – full of delicious food, spectacular sights, beautiful back-alley streets and of course some world class shopping.

Via Della Spiga

When you say Milan the first thing that comes to mind for most people would be fashion, the second thing would be the Duomo di Milano which is the incredible gothic cathedral that sits in the centre of the city. I was super excited to see both, but what I didn’t bank on is how lovely the streets of the city are as well, making them a sight all of their own.

I must say I have completely fallen in love with the Fashion District of Milan – be sure to walk down Via Della Spiga for the designer brands like Lanvin, Tiffanys and Dior, Via Monte Napoleone has a similar collection and Piazza del Duomo is great for high street brands. Via Della Spiga was probably my favourite place in Milan, in two days I think I walked up and down it four times – it is such a beautiful little alleyway with such character, not to mention beautiful shops.

Duomo Di Milano

Milan’s icon, the Duomo di Milano, truly is a sight to see and shouldn’t be missed. The enormity of it is evident when you walk the aisles inside, and for a small fee you can climb up to the roof which I highly recommend. The detail in the gothic architecture is awe-inspiring and there are even gargoyles. I got some beautiful photos up top and the bird’s eye view really puts the city in perspective.

Duomo Di Milano

Make sure you also walk over to Parco Sempione; this beautiful park is a haven for Milan. The grounds are lovely with various trees, waterways and bridges, and there is even a historic castle which is well worth a walk around.

Parco Sempione

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a breathtaking piece of architecture that you shouldn’t miss. Home to the likes of Chanel and Prada, it features an incredible design complete with huge glass domed roofs. Just over the road is La Rinascente, a large department store – its food hall on the 7th floor offers some wonderful treats and the Moet Champagne Bar deck has a beautiful view of the cathedral. You can cheers to your climb with a glass of bubbles.

Parco Sempione
My one recommendation for getting around Milan would be to walk, walk, walk. Honestly you see so much more. The majority of sights are in and around the city centre so you can easily spend the day on foot. I really enjoyed taking zig zagging routes where I would come across beautiful cobblestoned alleyways full of little shops and shuttered apartment buildings. There are also plenty of buskers around [who are very good!] so you’re sure to have a musical journey. If walking isn’t for you there is a rather simple metro system like that of Paris that you can use, and also cabs are relatively cheap. When arriving in Milan I would recommend flying into Linate Airport if you can, it is much closer than Malpensa; 15mins by cab as versus an hour.

Ahhhh Italy and its food – I was in heaven for two days. So much pizza, pasta and gelato and it truly is delicious. Number one on my list has to be Spontini for a pizza slice at lunch. Located in a back street near the cathedral, there is nothing glamorous about this place, it’s just a huge slice of pizza on a paper plate, but it is the best pizza I’ve had in my life. Ever. The queue round the block shows that everyone agrees and it’s well worth the wait. Also just on a street nearby you’ll find Luini Panzerotti – again the queue is all the way down the street but these little doughy, cheesy-filled bread scrolls make a delicious lunchtime snack. Gelaterias are on every corner and from what I tried they are all equally good with lovely crisp cones and creamy flavours. When it comes to dinner there are so many restaurants to try I can’t possibly advise when I only had one meal – I opted for a family-style Italian place that was homey but there are plenty of ritzy options too.

I can’t tell you what a lovely little weekend I had in Milan. It really was the perfect place for a single girl's weekend adventure. I left with a sated stomach, an inspired mind and a phone full of selfies.

Photos by Krissie.