I’m recapping our trip in Milan at the end of September, if you missed days 1 & 2 click here to go to the last post post as you missed the favourite part of my trip! I went into quite lot of detail as I struggled to really find anyone’s posts or vlogs on Milan!
Day 3 – Monday
Our last full day was Monday as we were flying home late on Tuesday. We decided this would be the day we concentrated on seeing the Cathedral, or Duomo as it’s known in Milan. We’d seen the queues for tickets, the queues to get in past security etc every day and guessed it was going to take most of the day because of it. We decided to buy a pass which included entry to the Duomo, entry to the Duomo rooftops, Duomo Museum, Duomo excavations under the cathedral and a separate church – I think if I’m recalling right these were 15 Euros each, and tickets would last two days, so if we didn’t quite get it all done – we could have finished up on Tuesday. But if you wanted entry to just the Cathedral inside, it was just 2 Euros. Incredible.
Duomo is the third biggest Church in the world and is seriously impressive, unfortunately there was no where to buy a guide (other than a listening guide, which we didn’t fancy) but it would have been nice to read a bit more about certain things going around. Luckily our map and mini guide book had some interesting information and we weren’t totally lost. We were inside for about an hour before deciding to go to the Duomo Museum, we spent little time here, there was a lot of unexplained carved figurines which felt like the same thing over and over – there was quite a lot to see, without actually being very interesting (for us anyway!). The additional chapel which was attached was also very small and didn’t have a lot to see – we couldn’t have spent more than 5 minutes inside before moving on.
We then headed up to the rooftops of the Cathedral – yep you can walk all over the roof. (At this point my camera died so photos are on my iphone until the evening!) Seeing the amount of attention to detail even at the top was incredible. You can choose to walk up or get the lifts up, we got the lifts up as it was hot, I was feeling unwell from my stomach problems, and it’s a good job I did as I got low blood sugar and got very shaky once we were up there before a nice American lady offered me an orange. I was surprised at just how long it took us to walk around from one side to the other then to the top rooftop – all in all it was about 45 minutes and the views were great, on a clear day your can supposedly see the Alps. This was a highlight of the trip for me. The queues for the lifts were long and the lifts themselves couldn’t take more than 6 people at a time – luckily they didn’t take as long we expected, about 25 minutes to go up, and only about 5 minutes to wait to go down (we hit the queue at the right time going down as a lot of people appeared behind us all at once!). The whole of the activities Duomo pass took us about 4 hours to do so didn’t take the whole day as expected so headed off for a semi late lunch (1.30 ish) to a place we’d been recommended.
We’d heard the spot for lunch was the Aperol Bar, which overlooked Duomo, and the spot itself was beautiful. The bar itself was disappointing. Aperol is an Italian aperitif, known for it’s speciality drink Aperol Spritz. We’d heard from someone who works with Ben who went about a week or so before us that whilst the drinks were expensive, you would be bought lots of Tapas. The menu itself also said the same thing – during the hour+ we was there all we were offered was Crisps (or Chips for you yanks), and they were part-cooked. We left feeling like we’d been robbed of just short of 30 euros and found a cafe downstairs to eat a panini.
As we got off the Metro we found somewhere to grab a quick Gelato at a cafe called Van Bol & Feste which we ended up stopping into on Tuesday as well. We grabbed a drink and a gelato naturally, this was the first time I’d seen a White Chocolate flavour and I was all over it pairing it with a milk chocolate. We walked up to the fountain at the front of the Castle and sat and waited.
Whilst having our lunch we decided what to do next and decided to head over the the Castello region- to explore the area around Sforza Castle and the park behind it. We didn’t realise you could actually walk around the inside of the castle without buying a ticket, so we took a slow wander through before going to the Parco Sempione at the back. We had a wander through, noticing the trees starting to turn autumnal in the warm Milan afternoon sunshine, until we reached the Peace Arch at the back of the park where we sat for a little bit with Ben reading his Kindle and me enjoying reading about some of the places we’d been in the guidebook and annoying Ben telling him things as he was trying to read. We lazily strolled back through to the Metro before again going back to the hotel for a quick shower and change.
On the list of places we were definitely going to visit was the Piz Restaurant, which was just off the main Duomo square along a street which I could only compare to Oxford street, we never walked down it in the day and it was closed by 7/8 at night when we got there so there was no quick pitstops into any of the stores. This came highly recommended by just about everyone on Trip Advisor, while we waited we were given a sparkling wine and a folded pizza panini sized bite each – they have 3 items on the Menu, Margherita Pizza, Pizza with just tomato and basil & oil, Pizza with just Cheese, oil and poppy seeds. Bottles of wine were 12 Euros and it was the best wine we had on the trip.
We had a Margherita and the plain Cheese Pizza (8 Euros each) and they split it for us before it arrived at our table so we had half and half without messily spilling cheese everywhere. We were too full for pudding again I think they only had 3 options, before they then basically drowned us in free shots of Meloncello and Limoncello. We had 8 Shots for free, the whole meal was just under 30 Euros and the service was out of this world. I think we skipped the Gelato that night, and went back absolutely wiped again.
Day 4 – Tuesday
Our flight home was quite late and we didn’t actually have to worry about getting a bus to the airport until early evening, so we pretty much had a full day. We were able to leave our cases at the hotel which was great as we had things booked on Tuesday.
We decided in the morning to go back to the Castle and actually go inside some of the rooms and exhibitions that were there, we didn’t have ages as at 2pm we had to be at something we had booked. But bought tickets for all the exhibits and covered as much as we could in the 2 hours or so we were there. First stop was a Michelangelo’s The Pietà Rondanini, which is his last unfinished work and some consider it his best… It was interesting but I’m not sure if I would be insulted if someone said my unfinished work was my best! We then took a walk around the Antique Art galleries which took over an hour, there were tapestries, sculptures, paintings and the rooms themselves took a long time to look around.
We then headed back to the cafe from yesterday where Ben grabbed a light lunch and I got a drink. We then walked to see the Last Supper which was about a 30 minute walk away. We’d prebooked our tickets to went to collect them, you have a set slot to go in, you can’t go in earlier if you’re there earlier – if you miss your slot tough. We spent a bit of time reading about Leonardo di Vinci’s most famous work before going in, about it’s history, the visiting was very regimental you have a 15 minute slot, 30 people in and out at once.
From here we went to the Brera district which I wish we could have spent some time here looking at the shops, with lots of unique boutiques in this clearly trendy part of town. We grabbed our last meal here and I opted for a Margharita pizza again (stomach wasn’t really agreeing with much at all), and had a drink before we went to the Brera Gallery. The Brera gallery is one of the main galleries in Milan, had we of not booked it as part of the Last Supper Tickets (they force you to book more than one thing now online) I don’t think we would have gone, whilst I love art – it was mostly all of one era (14-1600s) and largely religious themed.
Half of the gallery had undergone renovation and had explanations about each the paintings, hidden meanings etc – half of it was unexplained. It was good, but a bit repetitive after about an hour. We’d left at about 4.30 and started making our way back to our hotel for a quick change in the lobby toilets, picked up our cases and to the main train station to get the bus to the airport at about 6.
Notes – the Metro was affordable we opted to get a travel card for two days (naively on day 1 we bought a day card – but would have been very cheap if we’d got a 4 day card) which I think was 8.90 Euros each for unlimited travel for most of the city – much cheaper than a day pass in London which I think is about £8. Some parts needed an additional card to access, the area where Fashion Week was for example which was out of the city in an exhibition area. Day cards last a 24 hour period, so if you purchase at 8pm, it’s valid til 8pm the following evening, the same applied to multiday cards – rather than a 2 day card being 2 days it would be 48 hours- which is how we got away with getting 3 days worth of cards.
Definitely book to see The Last Supper as soon as you know you’re going to Milan, they kept shouting as we were queuing to collect your tickets “please do not queue if you haven’t already bought, we don’t have any availability for more than two weeks”. It wasn’t a cheap experience, especially as they force you to buy another attraction ticket at the same time, however it’s something I’m happy to say I’ve seen and ticked off the bucket list. We used the website theworldismine.it to book tickets through.
There’s currently a lot of refugees stuck in Milan who were hoping to cross the border to Switzerland before they closed their borders. They will try and attach bits of string to you telling you it’s a present before demanding money, just don’t let them get hold of your arm they do it without permission and can get aggressive, luckily there was no aggression towards us but saw it did to others.
I’d heard mixed things about Milan, my sister & her partner have travelled to most of the Italian cities now and Milan was their least favourite. Saying that she did say it might be a good place to start as your expectations were set low for the rest of Italy. I can kind of see what she would have meant, we had a nice time – but there isn’t loads to do in Milan, considering we were there for 4 days, 2 of those were part days, and one was spent out of the city we pretty much covered everything we wanted to (we just missed out a walk down the canal which we didn’t have time for!) and we took things at a leisurely pace. We could have spent time shopping but to be honest I can take or leave shopping when it comes to holidays – if I’m near a shop or have a spare hour to kill then yeah, but I’d rather spend time and money doing things rather than shopping. It was what we needed a short relaxing break, and it’s definitely given me the bug to revisit Italy. I’d love to spend a week in Lake Como – that was my favourite part of the trip!
Hope you enjoyed my travel post, you can see Days 1 & 2 (that’s where the prettiest pictures are) by clicking here. Have you ever visited Milan or Italy?