We arrived by train from Zurich and decided to catch an Uber to our AirBNB in the famous Navigli district. The only reason we decided on an Uber was because we had no more energy left to hassle with trains and (overweight) luggage. If you do plan on staying on the Naviglio then be aware that you will have to walk and possibly cross bridges as cars cannot access the area and the roads are cobbled, making it difficult to pull luggage. Also make sure that you choose somewhere to stay that is walking distance to a Metro Station, it really does make all the difference! We arrived late afternoon so we took our hosts advice and went to a pizza restaurant on the lively Naviglio strip - be prepared to be on a pizza and pasta diet!
Day One - Shopping and Sightseeing
Milan is one of the fashion capitals of the world so I was really excited to walk through the shopping districts. We got the Metro to the San Babila station to the famous Corso Vittorio Emanuele || which is a shopping strip that leads to the Piazza del Duomo or Cathedral Square.
The Corso Vittorio Emanuele || has high end fashion brands such as Versace and Louis Vuitton but also caters to the fast fashion masses - Zara (3 stories), H&M, Nike, Adidas, Sephora, Berschka, Pull & Bear, Mango, Banana Republic - to name a few. We stopped for lunch (#pizza) and then continued toward the Piazza with the magnificent view of the Duomo di Milan Cathedral. Off the square is the La Rinascente Department Store (think Selfridges) which is 8 floors of contemporary fashion, high end fashion, accessories, perfume, jewellery, home wear, restaurants and gourmet food.
Next stop is the breathtaking Galleria Vittorio Emanuele which is Italy's oldest active shopping mall. It is a four-story double arcade which first opened in 1877.
One of my favourite things about Milan is that its small enough to walk to where ever you want to go (if you are willing to do a 20-30 minute walk). I think that the best things that you will find and see are things you will unexpectedly find. We walked from the Piazza to the Sforzesco Castle, which was built in the 15th Century, which lead us to the Parco Sempione (The Hyde Park of Milan), which brought us to the beautiful Arco della Pace (The Arch of Peace). We then walked back toward the Piazza where we had some proper Italian gelato - there is nothing like it - and admired the late afternoon sun on the Duomo.
Day Two - Duomo di Milano
Disclaimer - if you hate birds be prepared.
Definitely the highlight of my time in Milan, my favourite part about traveling is visiting Temples and Cathedrals. We got an earlier start to avoid the masses and queues. You can either purchase tickets online before hand here or you can get to the ticket office early (it is on the right hand side of the Cathedral). We opted for the 'Duomo Pass Stairs' ticket which gave us access to the Cathedral, Crypt of St. Charles, Archaeological Area, Duomo Museum, Church of San Gottardo and the Rooftop Terrace by Stairs for €13 each (about R200). There is a Rooftop Terrace by Lift option for €17. There is a dress code so make sure that your shoulders and knees are covered (I was wearing a dress but had a long coat).
The Gothic style Cathedral dates back to 1386, which is difficult to comprehend when you are inside it. You feel a calming presence walking through the church and it is hard to put into words how beautiful the details are. The Rooftop Terrace is only about 250 stairs up and is SO worth the view, I highly recommend doing this and going early as the stair way and pathways are small. The architecture of the spires, pinnacles and statues is incredible and the panoramic view over the city is beautiful.
We went for lunch with a view to a restaurant called Obica Duomo - you can access it by going to the top floor of the La Rinascente. We sat outside and ate pizza (shocker) over looking the Cathedral. Because of the location we were charged €3 extra each just for being foreign.
Coming from an Art background I was so excited to go and see the Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci which covers a wall in the dining hall of the Santa Maria delle Grazie. I didn't think to look for tickets online because most museums or galleries you usually pay at the door. When we got there we were met with a "Sold Out For Two Weeks" poster! I was so disappointed, I guess I have a reason to go back one day! So if it is on your bucket list I suggest booking ahead of time.
We spent the evening having dinner in the Brera district. I highly recommend coming here. The cobbled streets are lined with cafes, stylish restaurants and fashion boutiques. We couldn't decide where to eat and got pulled into a small pizza restaurant by the very friendly owner who was standing at the door. It was a spontaneous night and the best way to end our time in Milan.
Getting to the airport: Catch the metro to the Milano Centrale Railway Station and purchase a one way train ticket to the airport. It is about a 50 minute journey straight to the terminals.