Many people told me they did not enjoy Milan. Italy is an incredible country, as much for its culture as its history but Milan does not please everyone. Here is my guide to spend a pleasant weekend in Milan.
Italy is a country that has always attracted me, especially because italians are in a constant search for perfection. The pursuit of beauty and pleasure affects all domains ! For example, gastronomy has been elevated to the rank of art. In Italy, you will not just eat, you are going to live an experience. Indeed, this country is the inventor of slow food. You do not eat, You taste… You take the time necessary to identify each flavor and then you can appreciate the true value of the harmonious blend of flavors from each dish. The dolce vita is not a selling argument for tourists. It eventually permeate your every move and even your way of thinking. Italy is the ideal country to slow down the frantic pace of everyday life.
Milan, the city of design and fashion
Unlike other Italian cities, Milan is deeply active, ambitious and modern. That is maybe why many tourists dislike Milan. The contrast is deep with Venice or Rome. The city itself does not necessarily seek to please to the tourists. Milan did not have time. However, it would be a serious mistake to be content with the experience of your friends and family without go there to make your own idea. But behind a cold image, Milan conceals valuable assets and, like the rest of the country, a captivating story. Lovers of fashion and design will, in turn, fall in love with Milan.
The ideal is to go to Milan for a weekend in May or June. In this period, you will enjoy a pleasant weather and avoid the crowds of the summer holidays.
Day 1 : Get to the top of the Duomo
Begin your first morning with an italian coffee and a pastry. Then, you should go to the Piazza del Duomo and admire the characteristic color of the cathedral. It is better to begin this week-end with the highlights before taking the pleasure to get lost in this city. This is the only way to discover the most beautiful streets, buildings and shops. Climb to the top of the Duomo and enjoy the view.
After that, take your time to visit the second must-seen landmark of Milan : Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This shopping mall is located just at a few steps from the cathedral, so you can not miss it. Made of glass and steel, it is among one of the most beautiful thoroughfares in the world for all shopping and fashion lovers. Milan, the economic capital of the country, welcomes a great Fashion Week. It has nothing to envy to the Fashion weeks in Paris or New York. If you want to do shopping, take a walk in the fashion district : Quadrilatero d’Oro. Please note that this activity is to be reserved for the rich travelers.
After a lunch and an ice-cream in (taste GROM, near the duomo), hang around a little in the historical district of Brera and its picturesque streets. Please do not miss La Scala opera house. The ideal would be to attend an opera after the ritual aperitivo. It is indeed an institution in Italy. It consist on eating appetizers (usually between 8 and 9pm) with a drink (alcoholic or not). The aperitivo, especially if food is included, is often enough to fill the bellies. More than gastronomy, this time of day is an invitation to discussion and sharing. This is an important moment of conviviality in the life of Milanese and Italian in general. Thus a good opportunity to experience the true atmosphere and culture of the city.
Day 2 : Museums and gardens
In the morning, you should take a look at the Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper“, which is in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. After that, you can visit the art museum Pinacoteca di Brera. If you prefer modern art, visit the Museo del Novecento. For lunch, try the specialties of the city : risotto and Cottoleta alla milanese. The afternoon (especially if the weather is nice), visit the Castello Sforzesco and the Parco Sempione. This fortress was built, as the name suggests, by the Sforza family by Francesco Forza, the duke of Milan. If you have a small budget, just visit the outside.
From May to October 2015, Milan hosts the World Expo with the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. One more reason to succumb to its charms!
Final recommendations : plan several months in advance your visit, including to book tickets to the opera and to have a chance to see The Last Supper !