As someone who is passionate about fashion and more specifically, shopping, Milan was a city that I had been wanting to visit for a long, long time. So, when I found the cheapest flights ever (£49, I love you Skyscanner). Well, it looked like it was meant to be and a city break was on the cards. So myself and my boyfriend, who luckily for me is as equally as into clothes and shopping, we had one hell of a couple of days to look forward too.
In a nutshell, the shopping did not disappoint, and neither did the copious amounts of Aperol spritz that I managed to drink in three days. Before I go any further though, this holiday does mean you are getting two blogs for the price of one. As not only did we visit Milan, we took a day trip to Lake Como and that beautiful place just deserves a blog all of its own. So bare with me with that one. Also, I would 100% recommend getting a hop-on hop-off bus there. Milan is big and so, if you are not fond of using the metro like me, it is such a useful idea – plus you learn a lot more. We paid around £20 for a 48 hour ticket and used it like a taxi, it saved a lot of walking. Especially since I dragged poor Andrei around half of Barcelona and so, he was relieved to see that we would not be walking so many miles for this city break.
GET THE LOOK
First things first in Milan, do not expect your traditional Italian city like Rome or Verona that are full of renowned and historical places to see. Milan is a metropolitan city, it’s industrial, commercial and full of business. Like a little dose of London in the heart of Italy almost. So, if you do go expecting more of a traditional tourist holiday, then you may be slightly taken back by the skyscrapers and modern buildings that surround you. Of course, Milan does have many of its own original treasures that tourists just love, like the magnificent cathedral in the Piazza del Duomo and La Scala, the famous Opera House, which are all a must-see. You will just be very underwhelmed if you expect a city full of sights.
Like I said, Milan means business. Specifically, fashion business and so, this city does not fail to prevail when it comes to shopping. In Duomo, you also find The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the most extra shopping centre you will ever see. It is home to Versace, Prada, Louis Vuitton and many more, with an impressive dome roof that could totally compete with St. Peter’s Basilica. Suggesting even more that fashion is almost a religion in this capital city.
However, these shops were only lovely to admire from afar since they were definitely not within our shopping budget. This was ok though, as right next door to this shopping arcade was another; The Galleria del Corso. It was far more affordable and full of European high street favourites like Bershka, Mango and Pull & Bear. I know what you are thinking. Yes, we have these stores at home and no, the price in euros is not necessarily different to the UK, but the stock was so much better. In fact, the Bershka was huge and merchandised so well. Something I am yet to see in a UK Bershka store, they are usually fairly small and a huge mess. Andrei has never even took an interest in their menswear before either but even he was loving it. Suffice to say, we did some serious retail therapy there and most definitely worked up an appetite for spaghetti and ice cream afterwards.
Our other shopping experience was on Corso Buenos Aires, home to 350 shops, so the audio commentary on the sightseeing bus told me. Basically, it was the Italian equivalent of Oxford Street. One huge road dedicated to high-street stores, and it was a five minute walk away from our hotel… Needless to say, we visited on multiple occasions. Whilst there are of course a whole load more places to shop throughout the city and its many districts. With pretty much a day and a half spent exploring Milan, I would say we managed to fit a great deal in considering there is practically shopping opportunities on the corner of every street. Considering that we only took hand luggage as well, we did a hell of a good job at managing to bring everything we bought back. As you can see below, my airport attire for our flight back consisted of some of my new buys:
T-shirt – Bershka – £4.99
Jeans – Bershka – £25.99
Sunglasses – Stradivarius – £12.99
GET THE LOOK
Lastly, a few tips for any of you that may be visiting Milan soon or may be wanting to.
1. Visit Terrazza Aperol.
If you are like me and love Aperol spritz, then you must go to this bar. It is dedicated to the entire summer drink and they serve a variation of cocktails and short drinks using the spirit, as well as the original spritz itself! People queue for this bar and although the drinks are amazing, that is not the sole reason as to why people are dying to visit. It’s the view. The bars terrace sits directly opposite the stunning cathedral at the top of the four story galleria and it makes for a popular Instagram snap spot.
2. Indulge in Aperitif.
An Aperitif or Aperitivo is kind of like the Italian happy hour. The idea is that you order a bitter drink like Campari or a glass of wine before eating to essentially, get your digestive system going. So Italian, I love it. Anyways, you can order this around 5/6ish till late and it usually arrives with nibbles. This can range from crisps, a small platter or bruschetta. One time in Bologna, we ordered a drink and got a whole pizza. So, it varies. This is a must try in Milan though. Most bars/restaurants offer it and all the locals will be there doing the same.
3. Visit Lake Como.
I will go into better detail in my next blog, but the beautiful lake is an hour train ride from Milan and so it would be silly to not spend a day there. It is truly amazing and lived up to all of my expectations as someone who has been to Italy on holiday countless times and still not visited till now. It is so easy and cheap to get to, and I shall provide a link to my next blog here soon with greater detail on the ease of getting there.
4. Check out Milano Centrale.
Since studying History at A Level and spending two years learning about the Unification of Italy and Mussolini’s influence towards some of the countries extravagant architecture. Finally seeing this beautiful station was something I was extremely excited about. You can travel all over Italy from here and so you could definitely consider taking day trips to other cities if in Milan for longer. Our hotel was only a short walk away from the station too which made transfers between the city and the airports super easy.
5. Go to Porta Sempione.
Here amongst some of the greenery within the city lies Sforza Castle at one end and the Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace) at the other. The surrounding area is also home to Chinatown, which to my disappointment after dragging us both there, was not like London’s or Liverpool’s, with pretty lanterns and restaurants. Porta Sempione is a popular hub for nightlife though and has avenue after avenue of bars. However, this area of Milan was surprisingly quiet when we got there. Maybe it was because it had started to rain slightly, or because it was the afternoon – siesta time – and the bars were simply coffee stops at that point. It was refreshing though. It was incredibly nice to hear yourself think and take in the landmark, especially after experiencing the tourist frenzy that is Duomo. So for a quieter area that is equally as exciting at night, it is definitely worth visiting.
…and lastly, do not count calories in Milan, the food is too good to care. Carbs are your friend in Italy after all.