Written by TianjinPaul on 07 Apr, 2013
One of the benefits of living in Nice is that you can get the best of two cultures: French and Italian. The most obvious example of this is the food where pizza and pasta dishes sit side by side with pates and coq au vin.…Read More
One of the benefits of living in Nice is that you can get the best of two cultures: French and Italian. The most obvious example of this is the food where pizza and pasta dishes sit side by side with pates and coq au vin. However, there is also the added element of being able to travel between the two countries easily. My girlfriend loves to regale her friends with stories of how – after a night consuming copious quantities of wine – she and her friend got on a train to have coffee and breakfast in Italy. We have also hopped on the train countless times to enjoy the market in San Remo and the beautiful surroundings of Dolceaqua.Last month, my girlfriend also looked to take advantage of the proximity to Italy by applying for an internship in Milan. As she would like to work in fashion, she thought that it would be the perfect place to immerse herself for a couple of months. And, it is not too difficult to get there. It is approximately four hours from Nice to Milan by car, so we decided that we could combine going for her interview with visiting the city. We were both very keen to see the renowned Duomo cathedral.As our first stop was for the interview, the first thing we would see in Milan was not the ancient cathedral, but the famed fashion district. If I am honest, even though I am a big history buff, I was probably looking forward to that as much as the cathedral or any other attractions in the city. This was not for any particular tangible attraction that the fashion district would offer, but simply to enjoy the atmosphere and to soak-up the super chic aura.Sadly, I have to say that I was a little disappointed. Perhaps I am not sure exactly what I was expecting. Maybe I was expecting to see top models sauntering past me – although it was probably a good job that I didn't see any of these as my girlfriend may have been angry at my craning neck – or icons like Donatella Vertsace or Karl Lagerfeld sipping Cappuccino in a nearby cafe. As you might imagine, we saw none of theis. The majority of people we encountered were very well-dressed – no-one looked too impressed at my sports anorak and sneakers – and there were some fabulously expensive boutiques, but little that was truly spectacular.With no models to ogle and the desire to keep my girlfriend out of the expensive boutiques – which couyld have had disastrous consequences – I was a little underwhelmed at tha Fashion District. However, it may be a better idea to visit during Fashion Week or to go if you are prepared to part with a large wad of Euros.Close
Written by jessparkin on 23 Jun, 2010
San Siro, Milan - for those of you who know sport you will immediately think - aha! joint home of Inter Milan and AC Milan - those two famous football teams. Of course you are right - this is a football stadium but I was…Read More
San Siro, Milan - for those of you who know sport you will immediately think - aha! joint home of Inter Milan and AC Milan - those two famous football teams. Of course you are right - this is a football stadium but I was lucky enough to visit the stadium last weekend for the first ever international rugby game in Milan. Italy versus the mighty All Blacks! Now the stadium holds approximately 80,000 and nobody in Italy expected football mad that it would be possible to sell it out for a rugby game (the previous record for an international rugby game in the country being 39,000) but they had so we went along to a full San Siro Stadium! Look of the stadium It is huge when you first approach it and it looks very imposing- there are four stands joined together with the Western side being smaller than the East. For some reason they have not built all the sides up to the same height - I assume at some stage that they will do so. The stadium is very attractive to look at - a sight worth seeing in itself I think! Location and Transport The stadium is well served by road and rail - the Milan metro being 5 minutes walk away - along a road lined with stalls selling merchandise and yummy looking paninis! The Italians can certainly beat grotty chips that we tend to get in the UK! If you choose to drive - there is plenty of parking and it costs between 10 and 25 euros for cars and coaches - again cheaper than Twickenham! The car park is well marshalled by stewards who make you park in exactly the right place! Entry Is via a series of gates which are all very well labelled so you know where to go. Expect to have to scan your ticket on a bar code reader before entering, then through a turnstile you go! If you have a bag this will then be searched - men were getting a pat down from very large security guards as they entered. As I am seven months pregnant the security guard took one look and waved me through! You won't be allowed to take in glass bottles, weapons, fireworks or plastic drinks bottles with the lids on them. They do let you carry in a water / coke bottle with the lid off which is the same as lots of other stadiums so wasn't a problem. Finding your seat Can actually be difficult as there is a distinct lack of signage inside - for example we were sitting in the cheap seats right up the top but had no idea which set of steps to use. The stewards were more than happy to help though - just make sure that you try to speak Italian to them and they will answer in English - start the conversation in English and expect to get a blank look! Access to the seats If you are up the top as we were there is a choice of steps or ramps - we walked up a spiral ramp - it took about 5 minutes to get to the top - if you are in a wheelchair you can use the ramps or a lift. I think that there is also a special wheelchair seating area. Get there early if you are in the cheaper seats as the actual seats were not allocated. We were just in the "red" zone which meant that we could sit anywhere in the zone. Not sure if this is the case at football games - especially when it is an AC / Inter Milan local derby! In your seats The seats are a good size and you have a reasonable amount of legroom. Although we were up top we had a fantastic view of both the action and the big screen. I don't think there are any restricted view seats in the stadium as it is very well designed! The crowd were very noisy but good natured! Toilets - very important, and not the strongest point of this stadium. Toilets are well labelled and there are a reasonable number of them - however the female toilets were all "squatters" and got VERY messy Very quickly unfortunately! As a female it was brilliant to be able to walk past a massive queue of men to go into the ladies though (now you know how it feels to wait guys!) Food and drink This puts English stadiums into the shadows I am afraid. No greasy pies and chips - expect freshly cooked Panini - pasta / pizza everywhere. Reasonably priced less than 5 euros for a sandwich. The beer on sale in the stadium is Peroni and is available at the bars and from at seat vendors - expect to pay 5 - 7 euros a bottle. Again, not sure if you are allowed to drink at football games. There are lots of well signposted food outlets and a remarkably civilised queuing system. Smoking Again, a black mark for the Italians - so much at seat smoking it is horrible if you are a non smoker and now I am used to non smoking stadiums in the UK I found this unpleasant. But if you wave the smoke away the locals at least make an attempt to blow it away from you! Programmes - cost 5 euros for this game - consistent with UK rugby internationals. The anthems There is nothing like the sound of 80000 Italians singing their amazing national anthem - the sound system broke so you could not hear the accompaniment - did it matter - not a bit, the Italians sang (remarkably tunefully) even coping with the key change. Absolutely amazing! The result My hubby's all black team came through beating the Italians - did they care? Well apart from booing the referee (who was SHOCKING) not a jot - there was a great party atmosphere throughout and we had our hand shaken by lots of Italian fans at the end. Worth a trip? Definitely - if you can go to a rugby game / concert at the stadium then you should do so - I think that a football game would also be great but probably much harder to get tickets for! Plus a little more intimidating! There is also a museum of football focussing on both AC and Inter which is worth a trip in itself! Summary: Definitely worth a visit folksClose
Written by explorer848 on 30 Sep, 2009
Travel Northern Italy Few places in the world are as enchanting as Milan. There is so much to offer in Milan and its surrounding areas that are perfect for travelers of all ages. The best way to plan a holiday to Northern Italy is with…Read More
Travel Northern Italy Few places in the world are as enchanting as Milan. There is so much to offer in Milan and its surrounding areas that are perfect for travelers of all ages. The best way to plan a holiday to Northern Italy is with a cheap Milan car hire. The tourist area of the city is easily seen on foot, but to really find what Northern Italy is all about, you need to get a Milan car hire and explore the area. The diversity of the lands surrounding Milan make it a really wonderful place to drive. The roads are in excellent condition and the scenery is amazing. The peaks of the Alpine Mountains guard the distant north, but with a Milan car hire, you can be whisked away at a fast pace. Before collecting the car hire in Milan, you will want to have a plan. Where should you go first? What do you have to see? Why have you never been to Milan before? The easy answer is found in the city. If your hotel is there, you will have to go anyway. If your hotel is somewhere outside the city, you should drive the car hire to Milan and enjoy the flavor before checking into the accommodations. The most interesting place to start your holiday is the Piazza Duomo. This is the location of the Milan Opera House, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the omnipresent Milan Cathedral. If you only knew one thing about Milan before coming, it was the Milan Cathedral. You cannot believe the awesome size of the Cathedral until you are standing in its shadows. It is so massive and intricate that the construction took almost 500 years. The Milan Cathedral now stands as the fourth largest church in the world and it will be for years to come. There are many other interesting places near the Piazza Duomo and you should explore the area by walking. After you have enjoyed sightseeing and shopping, it is time to venture outside of Milan with the car hire. The most interesting direction to drive is north. Take the car hire from Milan and start the ascent up the Alps Mountain range. If you are here during the ski season, it is obligatory to go for some of the best skiing in the world. There are plenty of resorts that are a short drive from Milan with a car hire. On your journey, take time to notice the beautiful foothills with villages that are scattered about. The castles, churches and towns tucked into the hills really give a feeling of how life must have been hundreds of years ago. The freeway leading to the Alps is a pristine stretch of road that is more of a reward than a duty to drive. Take plenty of picture and stop off for an authentic Italian meal. The Milan car hire is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and be delivered into traditional Italy. The places to drive a Milan car hire are only limited to your ambition. How far do you want to go? If you answer, "not far," do not worry because there are tons of great places to drive a car hire that are in close proximity to Milan. Try Como, Varese or Vigevano to enjoy a glimpse of traditional Italy. You have to eat at one of the local restaurants to get a taste of Italy, literally and figuratively. It is nothing short of a fantasy to park the car hire and have an evening meal on the shores of Lake Como. Farther destinations offer some of the same but in a more remote atmosphere. Drive to the northwest of Milan with a car hire to visit some beautiful Alpine villages. The city of Aosta is the gateway to some quaint mountain towns. Visit Valtournenche for skiing in the day and tranquil times in the evening. The elevation is high and your emotions will be too. The mountain roads are made easy with a reliable Milan car hire and your destination is never far away. Spend the night high in a mountain chalet or stay at a village hotel for unbeatable hospitality. The views are stunning, the food is tasty, the people are friendly and your mind is at peace. Head back with the car hire for Milan in the morning or spend a few more days enjoying the mountain air. All of these places are made closer with a Milan car hire and your holiday will be a success no matter where you drive. Close
Written by ChocolateLady on 14 Jul, 2009
Our only reason for going to Milan was finally to get to witness an opera at the famous Teatro alla Scala. We were fortunate enough for my 50th birthday to coincide with an opera that I'd been aching to see for quite some time…Read More
Our only reason for going to Milan was finally to get to witness an opera at the famous Teatro alla Scala. We were fortunate enough for my 50th birthday to coincide with an opera that I'd been aching to see for quite some time – "Candide" by Leonard Bernstein. But we recommend you make a whole day out of la Scala.We started out our day by arriving at the Teatro alla Scala museum. This museum has several floors of opera memorabilia, including photos, paintings, instruments, original musical scores, letters, posters and even costumes and pieces of furniture and props used in their productions. There's so much to look at, you could spend hours – and we certainly did just that. When you finish wandering around that, if there's no rehearsal going on, you can get inside the theater to see what its like. There's a special section of the gallery cordoned off for just this, and you can get the full effect of the whole opera house from there.Once you've finished your tour, you can go downstairs to the gift shop (and get a discount on any purchase with your ticket to the museum). This gift shop primarily sells CDs and DVDs of operas and classical music. The lower level has books, sheet music and opera scores as well as la Scala gifts (the usual things like coffee cups, umbrellas, notepaper, posters, and the like). Unfortunately, even with your discount from the museum, the prices aren't that cheap, but browsing is almost as fun.By the time you've finished with the museum and gift shop, you'll probably be tired. We found a nice café for lunch nearby and then made our way back to our (distant) hotel for a well-deserved rest. Of course, we knew we'd not only need that rest, but also time to dress for the opera. La Scala has a strict dress code, and woe is anyone who shows up in casual dress there.Of course, operas aren't short, and we figured (much like everyone else) that we'd be starving if we ate dinner after the performance, so we went to find somewhere for an early dinner. Now, just as you walk from the main piazza towards the theater, there's a partially covered shopping area. While the shops are all fancy designer clothes, they do have – of all things – a McDonald's! Well, it is food, and fast, so in we went. Imagine our surprise to find that we weren't the only customers there wearing suits and ties and in floor length gowns! Yes, apparently part of the whole la Scala experience is to eat at the McDonald's before the performance.Afterwards, you're only steps away from the theater and ready to enjoy the rest of the evening – which is usually followed by making your way back to your hotel and going to sleep, basking in the glory of one of the most famous opera houses in the world.So if you're an opera fan like we are, this is our tip for a visit to Milan.Close
Written by sum0488 on 03 May, 2009
The Meal of a LifetimeMilan was a ghost town. It was mid-August, the first night of my family’s 16-day tour of Italy, a trip I had been anticipating for months. Unfortunately the entire population of Italy was on vacation. I wasn’t happy: I hadn’t eaten…Read More
The Meal of a LifetimeMilan was a ghost town. It was mid-August, the first night of my family’s 16-day tour of Italy, a trip I had been anticipating for months. Unfortunately the entire population of Italy was on vacation. I wasn’t happy: I hadn’t eaten all day, and since the whole country had departed for the seaside and mountains, there were very few restaurants open for business. My family and I had searched for at least an hour, probably more, when we finally come across a place named "Woodstock #3." I was so happy to find a place to finally quell my hunger that I truly didn’t care that this was the most American-sounding name I had seen in my day there. However, once we got into the restaurant, it was more different than I ever could have expected.Our group was large: six people in my family, the four in my uncle’s, and my two grandparents. From the outside, Woodstock #3 looked rather spacious, but inside, it was a different story. There were tables jammed end to end and the people were packed so closely it looked like a clown car in a circus. We walked in, saw there was no way we were all going to fit, and immediately walked out. Upon seeing this, one of the waiters came after us and said, in the nicest way possible, that there was no way we were leaving and that he would do whatever was necessary to make room. We decided to give it a chance and watched him work his magic; he must have had to do this before; because in less than five minutes we were all seated comfortably right in the, middle of the restaurant. Looking around the place, I realized that this restaurant was the embodiment of everything I ever thought Italy would be. It was cozy, loud, had incredibly friendly waiters, and you felt that you could walk up to any person in there and become best friends with them in two minutes. This restaurant was Italy. Coming from a 100% Italian background, I had heard of the unbelievable food in Italy, but I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the onslaught of deliciousness. First, warmed and seasoned garlic rolls. Next, fried calamari with an absolutely impeccable red wine. Then came the main course. Linguine aglio, olio e peperoncino. Linguine in a garlic, oil, and pepper sauce. This was a meal I had at least three or four times on this trip alone, but the balance this dish had was so perfect, it could not be improved. Spicy, but just enough; garlic-y, but not enough to make it overpower the oil. It was perfect. After I had cleaned my plate, I started helping the other people at the table who couldn’t finish their own. Mom’s spaghetti carbonera: gone. Sister’s frutti de mar: gone even faster. I was beginning to get full so I decided to stop. And that’s when the fun REALLY started. The owner of the restaurant had watched me tear through my food like someone who hadn’t had a meal in months, and in typical Italian fashion, loved every second of it. He came up to me as I was finishing up and started speaking to me, but he only spoke Italian so I couldn’t understand him. I referred him to my dad, who had grown up in Italy, and after a few minutes of them going back and forth, I found out he tried to tell me if I wanted more after my meal, he would have just given me some. I laughed it off, seeing it as a joke, and then I saw him carrying a plate of capellini in a pesto sauce directly towards me. He put it down in front of me and said one word, pointing at the plate: "tutto," all of it. By this time I had gathered a little bit of a crowd because everyone saw him talking to me and after a few minutes I had the entire restaurant cheering me on, willing me to finish the plate. It was all a combination of English and Italian and eventually got to the point where I couldn’t even hear what was being said anymore; I just knew there was no way I wasn’t finishing that plate. When I took the last bite, everyone cheered and gave me high fives like I had just finished a marathon. Here were these people cheering for me, a first time visitor to their country, and all they cared about was giving me the meal of a lifetime. Well Italy, you didn’t disappoint. When I look back on the trip, the story of that night will always be the first one I tell and I don’t think I’ll ever have another meal quite like it. Honestly? I don’t know if I even want to.Close
Written by MacJay on 01 Nov, 2000
This detail merits a separate entry only because it CAN be a health issue. In the spring the cotton woods, 'piopo' in Italian explode in snow like avalanches of seeds. At first it is pretty...kind of enchanting. Sort of like God blew…Read More
This detail merits a separate entry only because it CAN be a health issue. In the spring the cotton woods, 'piopo' in Italian explode in snow like avalanches of seeds. At first it is pretty...kind of enchanting. Sort of like God blew on a giant dandelion and all these things are floating all around you. Eventually, much like snow, it starts to interfere because you breathe it in and have to start pulling it out of your mouth.
In extreme cases, it can affect respiratory ailments. I've been in Milan several times during the spring and sometimes it is worse than at other times. And it seems to be concentrated in Milan. When we traveled just slightly away from Milan there was a noticeable reduction. Check out the photo if you want to see how dense it can be. In any case, if you suffer from respiratory ailments try to stay indoors during blizzards of the stuff and be prepared to do whatever you normally do when you are affected. I now travel with a good expectorant, in case it provokes another bronchitis attack as it did the first time.
Written by Marianne on 09 Jul, 2005
Start the day at Piazza Duomo. First admire the Duomo's façade. It is sparkling white, like it has just been cleaned. Look up and take your time to see the many statues and details. Walk around the cathedral so that you can see it from…Read More
Start the day at Piazza Duomo. First admire the Duomo's façade. It is sparkling white, like it has just been cleaned. Look up and take your time to see the many statues and details.
Walk around the cathedral so that you can see it from all sides. It is an impressive building and the third largest cathedral in the world. (Number one is St Peter in Rome, and number two is Seville's cathedral in Spain).
It is now time to cool down, so go inside, and the first thing you will notice is the temperature: nice and cool. The second thing is the 52 pillars, each 3.50m in diameter. They are huge! When you have walked around enough, it is time to climb the steps or take the lift to the roof so that you can see the statues on the roof. There are 2,245 of them, all different, and there are too many to see them all.
When you get down, walk across Piazza Duomo to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, an elegant shopping arcade finished in 1877. Right in the middle, under the copula, is a mosaic of a bull. Dancing on its masculinity brings luck and fulfils your wishes, but I was told only for men.
It is now time for a refreshment. The best place is Bar Zucca, at the main entrance of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele (Piazza Duomo side).
It is still too early for una zucca, an alcoholic drink made from rhubarb, with a slight medicinal taste. But they also serve cappuccino, café latte, and espresso.
The bar was favoured by Guiseppe Verdi, who used to stop here for a drink after concerts at the Scala, which is just around the corner.
When you have finished your coffee and have done enough people-watching, walk to Piazza della Scala to see the famous Theatro alla Scala. You can try to get tickets, as the box office is open from 12 to 6pm.
Visit Museo teatrale alla Scala, where you can see theatre sets and costumes. Next to the Scalla is Via Manzoni; Guiseppe Verdi lived and died at number 29. Legend has it that the street was covered in straw so that he could compose without being interrupted by the noise of horses and carriages.
Walk along via Dante (or take a taxi) to Castello Sforzesco, a perfect place to rest. The castle was built in 15th century and looks like a brick cube. Give the museum a miss (unless you are interested in medieval paintings).
Have a picnic lunch in the park next to the castle or go to one of the restaurants nearby. A three-course menu will set you back 15€ (plus a 1.50€ cover charge and extra for drinks).
It is now time to get away from it all. Take a taxi or the subway. Get off at Garibaldi F.S. (line M2). Cimitero Monumentale is right in front of you.
If you are interested in Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, you will certainly like this cemetery. All graves are decorated with sculptures in these styles. A small detail: many graves have framed photos of the deceased.
Cimitero Monumentale is like a museum, even better because it is in the open, very quiet, and peaceful. Don't miss the life-size sculpture of Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper," the leaning Tower of Pisa, and the rock with a plowing farmer. As with all museums and monuments, the cemetery is closed on Mondays.
Time for more mundane matters: shopping. You will find the Italian couturiers in Via della Spiga at 4 Bulgari and 14 Cerruti, and in Via Monte Napoleone, at 5 Gucci, 11 Versace, 14 Vuitton, and 16 Cartier. In Via Sant'Andrea, they are at 9 Armani, 10 Chanel, and 11 Kenzo. If your budget doesn't allow you to shop here, you can go to Corso Buenos Aires, full of affordable shops and outlets.
Take the subway to Porta Genova in the Navigli district. Walk along Via Vigevano to the wharf and explore the clubs, bars, and restaurants. Between one aperitif and another, you serve yourself from the buffets that are provided at the happy hour.
You will have no problem finding a restaurant, as there are plenty. A big bonus of this area is that there are often live concerts in the evening.
Written by pointofnoreturn on 27 Jul, 2007
We couldn't find a decent hotel to stay in the night before our flight to Athens. We looked into hostels but 99% of them had terrible reviews and the cheap hotels were far out in the city with no access to public transportation. Milan isn't…Read More
We couldn't find a decent hotel to stay in the night before our flight to Athens. We looked into hostels but 99% of them had terrible reviews and the cheap hotels were far out in the city with no access to public transportation. Milan isn't cheap when it comes to lodgings so we decided to suck it up and sleep at the airport to save money.We had a few hours stopover in Milan after arriving by train from Florence. After visiting the Last Supper and Duomo, we returned to Centrale train station, where we took the Malpensa Shuttle (€5) to Malpensa Airport - some 30 miles away. The ride lasted about an hour due to traffic and we were dropped off at Terminal 2 (budget airlines). The bus then proceed to Terminal 1 (other airlines).Malpensa Airport is MUCH smaller than you expect and it looks like everything is on the ground floor. There are hardly any restaurants or decent facilities so bringing food with you is a good idea. We got to the airport just before 9pm and it was completely empty. The cafés were shut down and janitors were already sweeping up the place.There were a few other people that had intended to stay the night as well. Around 10pm, a huge gathering of Roma soccer fans came in for a night flight back to Rome - complete with police officers. I guess they take security seriously there. I wasn't asked for my passport and there were no problems with the guards that patrol the airport. The lights go don't off at Malpensa (At Orly, they go off around midnight) so you definitely won't be getting some sleep unless you knock yourself out with pills. The chairs are uncomfortable but there are no armrests despite the lack of padding. There is limited seating at Malpensa so if you're planning to hunker down at the airport, get there a bit earlier to grab a seat. I think based on my experiences, I wouldn't sleep at Malpensa again unless I had an extremely early flight. I wish I could have shelled out a bit more money for a nice hotel room but I'd feel guilty anyways. So if you're trying to decide whether or not to sleep in the airport, I'd stick with getting a hotel room. It's not worth losing an entire night's sleep and being crabby the next morning due to that fact. Close
Written by eros on 08 Dec, 2002
The most famous opera house in the world, according to the flier I kept as a souviner, La Scala was built by Giuseppe Piermarini between 1776 and 1778. The opera house stands upon the ruins of the old church of Santa Maria della Scala, its…Read More
The most famous opera house in the world, according to the flier I kept as a souviner, La Scala was built by Giuseppe Piermarini between 1776 and 1778. The opera house stands upon the ruins of the old church of Santa Maria della Scala, its namesake. Circled by greenery in Piazza Scala, a monument to Leonardo da Vinci provides the perfect backdrop for La Scala’s neoclassical architecture.
La Scala Opera House is beautiful. I didn't see a live performance just a young opera singer practicing for a show. The whole experience was set in an ancient time. The song of this young opera singer flowed through the building. The song was in Italian so I didn't understand the words but I could feel the emotion. I listened for about ten minutes before departing. When the young opera singer finished I took my photo of the inside. It was a captivating moment I will never forget
Written by Gaires2359 on 07 Nov, 2004
Milan’s Centro Storico, or historic centre, is where the world's largest Gothic cathedral stands. It’s home to the much-celebrated La Scala opera house, art-filled private mansions, the royal palace, a most elegant shopping arcade, and busy pedestrian boulevards.
Once the Roman city of Mediolanum, though its…Read More
Milan’s Centro Storico, or historic centre, is where the world's largest Gothic cathedral stands. It’s home to the much-celebrated La Scala opera house, art-filled private mansions, the royal palace, a most elegant shopping arcade, and busy pedestrian boulevards.
Once the Roman city of Mediolanum, though its boundary walls vanished long ago, besides historic sights, the area has a grid of shopping streets around Via Montenapoleone known as the Quadrilatero d’Oro or 'Golden Triangle'. Milan is home to some outrageously expensive boutiques, as well as haute-couture stores and the head offices of all the biggest brand names in international fashion. With so much to see and do, where do you begin? Well, here’s a suggested itinerary.
Start out at 9:30am for the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and marvel at this treasure trove, which includes Leonardo’s Codex Atlantico -- oversized tomes filled with Leonardo’s sketches, Titian’s Adoration of the Magi, and Caravaggio’s Basket of Fruit, amongst others. Bequeathed to the city by art-loving Cardinal Frederico Borromeo, the collection also includes the original cartoon for Raphael’s famed School of Athens, a preparatory drawing for his famous fresco of Greek philosophers with the faces of Renaissance artists.
Next, work your way south to Via Torino and the gem of a church, Santa Maria presso San Satiro, with its 11th-century bell tower, Renaissance chapel, Baroque-style rear façade finished in 1871, and 15th-century interior decorations. Then walk north up Via Torino until you reach the Piazza del Duomo and take a left up towards Via Mecanti to see the raised porticoes of Palazzo della Ragione, a 13th-century broletto (town hall) where a small Xmas fiesta market starts in late November. Now cross the huge Piazza to enjoy the marvels of Italy’s second largest cathedral and explore its roof.
Then head over to the gorgeous liberty-style Zucca (Caffè Miani) for a spot of lunch. At the entrance of Italy’s grandest shopping arcade, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II, was where Verdi and Toscanini would stop by after La Scala shows. Be sure to try its cheese and meat platter, and nothing warms you right up more than a small mug of rich, thick, steamy hot chocolate. Ooh-la-la. For more on what to eat, be sure to read my journal on Lombardy’s culinary delights.
In the afternoon, nourished and filled with renewed energy, exit the arcade at Piazza della Scala, flanked by the famed opera house and Palazzo Marino. The former was built under the aegis of the Austrians and boasts a sumptuous interior, excellent acoustics, and a staggering list of premieres, including Verdi’s Egyptian melodrama Aida (1872), Puccini’s tale of enduring love between a Japanese geisha and American soldier, Madame Butterfly (1904), and Turandot (1926), another Asian tale by Puccini. The latter, Milan’s municipio (city hall), has two distinct façades: a 1553 mannerist one, on Piazza S Fedele, and an 1886-92 neo-classical one, facing La Scala theatre. Behind the city hall is the 1559 Jesuit temple San Fedele, a single nave construction which became the Lombard blueprint for churches built in the counter-Reformation era. After this, walk northeast past the surreal Casa degli Omenoni, Renaissance sculptor Leone Leoni’s palazzo, whose lower level façade is lined with eight giant telamones, which are columns in the form of a male figure.
Turn left next to visit the excellent Museo Poldi-Pezzoli, with its vast collection of arms and armour, displayed in a room designed by Pomodoro in 2000. Then continue north on Via Manzoni, admiring its palazzi and Armani boutique until you come to Milan’s premier shopping venue, Via Montenapoleone. This is where you will likely spend the rest of your day. And in the evening, take a rest break at Cova. Opened by the Faccioli family in 1871 near La Scala and later moved to its present location, it has remained in the family and continues to be the café of choice for the city’s elite. Its in-house pastries, chocolates, and sandwiches are some of the most exquisite in town, and they brew a mean cup of cappuccino to boot.