What were we thinking, choosing the global capital of fashion as our annual city break when our usual option would be a more alternative, discreet and humble city. Italy has been on our list for a while and with only 4 days to spare, we didn’t want to spend the majority of our weekend queuing amongst other tourists to experience expensive attractions. Milan, although enriched with history, culture, and breathtaking architecture, is the least popular metropolis in Italy for tourists – sounds good to me!
As usual, I’m not here to talk about the typical attractions including the Duomo di Milano, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and Leonardo Di Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper, but rather the top 5 things that made our trip to Milan so interesting and unique.
1) Via Lodovico Muratori
I’m convinced that we wouldn’t have found this area if we hadn’t chosen to stay at UNA Hotel Mediterraneo. A small, quaint crossroads on the outskirts of the city, scattered with such beautiful Italian restaurants, we loved this area so much we ate here for 2 of our 3 nights spent in Milan. Abbottega and Casa Tua Osteria are what Italy is all about. Baskets of bread, home-brewed Chianti, and feasts of antipasti were exactly what I was hoping for when we first booked this trip, and these 2 hidden gems stimulated my appetite and we both actually left the restaurant full (that doesn’t always happen). Additionally, if you’re looking for an authentic Italian atmosphere and charming service, then look no further.
Hidden down a side street off the commercial Via Torino, this simple pizzeria epitomises ‘organised chaos’. There are only 3 pizzas on the menu offering a combination of tomato, basil, and mozzarella toppings but that’s all they need to attract a flock of workers meeting for lunch. We were greeted with shots and hurried downstairs, crammed on a small table and served very efficiently but we couldn’t fault the service!
3) Riding the tram
As efficient as subterranean transport systems may be these days, it seems a shame to spend so much time under the ground when there is so much to see above. Thank goodness that Milan’s old tram network is still very much in tact and connects the all of the key areas of the city together. Not only is it an adventure in itself riding in the old-school karts, but you get to see so much of the city as you move from A to B. Before we left for Italy, one of my Italian colleagues mentioned that no-one pays for the trams. I thought.. “No thanks!”, I’m not being the one person who gets stopped and fined for not having a ticket. But, I can’t shed any light on how you pay for the trams because although we tried, there is no where to buy tickets from, no one to check them, and everyone seems to follow suit. I won’t tell if you don’t..
4) Parco Sempione
Escape from the city (without actually leaving the city) in the stunning, 40 hectare Parco Sempione. Stretching from Sforzesco Castle to the Arc de Triomphe, the park hosts beautiful lakes, statues, picnic spots and so many photo opportunities! A romantic stroll through this urban park could easily guzzle up half of your day in Milan.
5) A trip to Como
Saving the best till last here as I couldn’t have imagined travelling so close to this area without actually visiting. Without even complimenting the lake itself, the traditional Italian village of Como is what going to Italy is all about. Independent Italian eateries fill the narrow, cobbled streets, with multi-coloured walls and too many flavours of gelato to chose from.
The lake itself is what initially attracts the tourists, and it is easy to understand why. Stood on the bank of the lake I had everything in shot, from a small sandy beach to snow-capped mountains in the distance. A small ferry leaves the port of Como every 30 mins and travels north to the famously-romantic Bellagio and Varenna.
Please comment below with any other must-do activities for Milan and the surrounding areas, ciao ciao!