In my opinion..
Milan is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Europe with almost 11 million visitors last year. It is the fashion capital of the world, known for its housing of luxury designer brands. The prestigious Milanese reputation for business doesn’t stop at fashion and many financial industry headquarters are in Milan – like the country’s main stock exchange, the Borsa Italiana.
Milan was my first taste of Italy, the first time i had stepped foot on Italian soil and i was beyond excited. The food, the wine, the fashion, the language! I couldn’t wait to immerse myself in the rumoured hype of Milan. We spent two days here and it was enough. You could absolutely see most things here in one day and i don’t think you would leave feeling like you had missed anything.
The good..The bad..But no ugly.
The Duomo Di Milano is certainly the main tourist attraction in Milan and rightly so, building began in 1836 and restoration continues to this day. The architecture is an amazing sight to behold, it truly is magnificent. It is one of those buildings, like Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia that you see something new each time you look. No words can truly depict the beauty of the Duomo and it should be witnessed first hand in person. It’s €5 to enter the cathedral and an extra €10 to have access to the rooftop via the stairs (€14 to use the lift).
Top Tip: As to be expected, the square in front of the Duomo is swarmed with selfie-stick wielding tourists. It definitely takes away some of the charm doesn’t it? While we managed to get some snaps in the day, we returned in the evening and there was barely a soul there! If you want unobstructed pictures – come later in the day. You can see the difference in the pictures below.
Right next to the Duomo Di Milano, is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Its Italy’s oldest shopping mall and is home to some of the worlds most exclusive designers. It is often referred to as il Salotto Di Milano which translates to ‘Milans drawing room’. This is due to the vast array of shops and its value as a common meeting and dining place amongst the people of Milan.
The design behind some of the features in the Galleria is really interesting and worth knowing before you go. There are four mosaics on the ground forming the coat of arms of the three capital cities in the kingdom of Italy – Turin, Florence, and Rome, with the addition of Milan. Like the Duomo, the architecture alone makes paying a visit to the Galleria worthwhile.
As Milan is the fashion capital of the world it is of course only right to look in the shops in the Galleria. But do we actually buy anything? Unless you’re specifically looking to secure a designer piece there’s nothing else here. In comparison to other ‘fashion districts’ of the world, like Paris & even London, Milan is really small and i actually do struggle to see how it is the fashion capital of the world.
I would say that the Duomo and the Galleria are the two main tourist attractions in Milan. As they’re right next to each other, you could do them both in around 2 hours if you wanted. Then what do you see? Other sites we visited were
- Sforzesco Castle
- Teatro Alla Scala
- Sempione Park
- Santa Maria Delle Grazie – Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ is on display here.
If we had another day in Milan i think we would have struggled to find something to do/see. While there are plenty of areas to walk around, they’re just not as aesthetically pleasing like say those in Rome or Venice.
Of course this being my first time in Italy i couldn’t wait to have my first proper Italian pizza! There were a few food experiences we had which were worth mentioning. Like any city, the cafes and restaurants in the centre are overpriced and not authentic, so best to avoid these. Our first stop was Pizzium. We didn’t realise till after that this was a chain restaurant and had we known we wouldn’t have chosen it for my first pizza experience, or at all. We much prefer independent, one of a kind places.
I was actually really disappointed with the pizza – gutted. Truthfully, i was partly to blame as i made a rookie error when ordering. I didn’t realise that not all bases are tomato based (like most standard pizzas) and mine arrived with an artichoke sauce/base – it was really awful.
Still, never the quitter, we tried again!
That evening we went to Pizza AM. We found this place on a ‘local eats’ guide and local it was! When we arrived it was heaving with crowds of people waiting outside. You know its going to be good when you see a crowd. The owner came out and greeted us and gave us a glass of wine while we waited! The restaurant itself is small, but the decor is quirky and fun and you can watch your pizzas be cooked in the wall oven while you sit. The pizza and restaurant was gorgeous – exactly what i was hoping for, both in terms of food and atmosphere. The owner even gave us a shot of free Limoncello before we left. I wish i had had this experience first, but we were lucky to have had it in general.
One final place we liked was Pasta Fresca Da Giovanni. It is just a short walk from the Santa Maria Delle Grazie and its wonderful! Its only open for lunch so make sure you check the opening times before you go. We got there around 10 minutes before it was open and there was already a big queue outside. There are only i think 4/5 tables so you can be waiting a while. All the pastas are made fresh on the premises and there are so many different types to choose from. Its a lovely, authentic Italian pasta shop and really worth a visit.
Do i think Milan is overrated? Yes. Do i think everyone should visit? Also yes.
Every city is worth a visit simply to experience different cultures and lifestyles. I feel Milan just lacks ‘personality’. In comparison to other Italian cities like Venice which is just magical, the materialism in Milan overshadows any authentic rustic charm. It was one of those cities than when you arrive you just know its not as special as others. Of course everybody’s taste and opinions on travelling is different so if you are planning on visiting Milan i would definitely go – you can never explore too much of the world!