Wandering the Milanese streets
Building up on my previous article, I'd like to write about the wider Milan and not just Piazza Duomo from Day 1, although it was truly breathtaking. There is more to this city than meets the eye once you know more or less what to do/where to go. I must admit that with limited time, you tend to visit the city centre only...
Milan is a mix of ancient and modern, in terms of architecture and style, yet fresh, fun and enjoyable. To really experience Milan, the best is to adapt, try and live the Milanese way starting around 10AM (when shops open) with coffee and a pasty and ending at a terrasse for an aperitivo around 7PM until late...In between, take your time to visit the city, have a coffee break and live slowly/stress free.
Since my HQ was located next to Moscova, my next logical move was to visit the neighbour. I started from Corso Como and Garibaldi and headed down to Castello Sforzesco. Since I like designer shops it was convenient for me to start on Piazza Gae Aulenti and head down Corso Como. Following that you will find the Porta Garibaldi, one of the many gates of the city, as well as many Chiese. If you keep heading down, you will find yourself on Corso Garibaldi and finally in front of the Castello Sforzesco (entrance is free unless you want to see the museo) and Sempione Park. There is a lot to visit in there so make sure to dedicate a few hours to a full afternoon/morning for this part.
Next to the castle is the Cadorna station and 15-20 min from there, by foot, you can find either the Navigli area or the Piazza Duomo. Either way, keep your eyes open, wander the streets, and spot all the marvels Milan has to offer. My preference would be to head to Duomo first to see its surroundings then head to Navigli through the Via Torino. Then you arrive in Navigli around dinner when all bars and restaurants are open, it is really cool and that area is actually less expensive and the atmosphere is superb.
If you are in Milan for shopping purpose only, your best itinerary starts at the Lima Metro station, the beginning of the Corso Buenos Aires. This is the longest shopping street in Europe which will take you all the way to Piazza Duomo once again (all the roads lead to Duomo!). From Corso Buenos Aires you will go to Corso Venezia, pass the Public Gardens and many designers boutiques, and finally you will be back to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and its surroundings. This little tour will take a morning at least if you visit shops and stop for coffee breaks or if you take a tour of the Museo Civico di Storia Naturale de Milan.
Just within these few paragraphs, you actually see a lot of neighbours like Porta Nuova, Brera, Porta Venezia,Quadrilatero della Moda, Scala, etc. Please don't stick to just the streets mentioned above, they are for reference, wander the neighbours around those streets and find the many hidden jewels of Milan.
I have to admit that I had a fez prejuges about Milan at first, I thought this city was boring and not so nice but this trip changed my perspective for the best.
Highlights of Milan:
I really appreciated the train system, easy and quick. Really no hassle, tickets can be bought online;
The Metro is really easy as well and you can buy 1 Day or 2 Day cards at any ATM, they are available for 4.5€ & 8.75€ against 1.8€ for one trip...It's a real bargain;
You will find cafes, snacks, restaurants and terraces everywhere;
The aperitivo is really great if you don't plan to eat a full dinner or if like to eat a lot. For 5€ or 10€ you get your drink and access to an often huge buffet;
Fountains can be found all over the city and offer fresh drinkable water for free. It is really convenient especially during Summer;
July/August are holiday months for Italians, hence the city is a bit less crowded than the rest of the year;
Really good sales in July and still early August;
Lowlights of Milan
Summer can be really hot and humid hence this period isn't for everyone;
Attractions are crowded and queues can take up to 2 hours like for the Duomo Cathedral so buy your tickets online;
Milan can be expensive, after all it is a metropole and still Europe;
Pickpockets! Be careful with valuables but this is an advice for every city in the world :)
Mosquitos!!! Do take a good spray with you otherwise you will become a walking blood bag and get bitten over and over again...It happened to me and it still itches...
In some establishments, ordering your drinks at the bar is cheaper than to wait for a waiter to come and take your order;
Be patient in bars and restaurants, it might take time to be served;