Sometimes you come to a very touristic place and you think to yourself – ‘there is nothing to discover anymore. It’s all the same – full of tourists, full of street vendors, who want to sell another token to you.’ Yeah, no thanks. But is that reason enough to give up a ‘mainstream’ city?!
Some years ago I went to Milan, we only had three days in the city and I was disappointed. My friend and I stayed at a central location and it took us only 3 minutes walking to the Duomo di Milano (Milan’s famous cathedral). Nevertheless, the location and time we had wasn’t sufficient. I didn’t have a choice than to experience Milan through the eyes of a tourist, no time to discover but visit known sights only.
This time around, my boyfriend had work to do in the city. He asked me to tag along for one week – I decided to give the city another chance. Don’t think I didn’t prepare! I bought a creative guide book from the ‘LOST IN’-series and marked my targets with stars in a google offline map on my mobile phone – like a proper millennial. I did my online research and read some blogs. At that time I decided to allow myself only 2 subway/tram rides a day and otherwise walk walk walk with eyes wide open.
DISCOVER BY WALKING
My legs hurt more and more every single day but I kept on going and discovering. I kept on following the stars on my map and adding more through out the way. I visited sights and stumbled upon some independent fashion designers that I always enjoy discovering.
Never did I imagine to meet so many nice people and find the best ice cream in town – Gelati Sartori – (suggested by two locals), to talk to an Australian now living in Milan and working at a fashion store and getting to know Aisha, who decided to travel the world by herself for 6 months. It’s only seconds or minutes during my journey, but so worth it.
MILAN – MY JOURNEY IN THE CITY
Let’s talk about Milan then. July 2016 was hot and humid. It didn’t help to wait for the evening, since the weather didn’t really change. So I started my journey with a tube ride every day, except one specific day, when I started walking immediately.
If you are unlucky you get into a very old subway – no air-condition, just the steady noise of the smelly air rushing through the windows. Particles of dirt will set on your face and the wheels on the rails add their shrieking and cricking to the experience. Therefore, if you can walk or ride a bike – please do. You will most likely need to shower after returning to your accommodation in any case.
SIGHTSEEING LIKE A TOURIST
Since I was looking for local spots, but also enjoying some sightseeing in between, I want to present you with three of my not-to-miss-sights. I also want to mention one that you probably can or even should miss, since it’s not worth the money you will spend.
Duomo Di Milano. Every time I walked by I had a wow-effect. The gothic cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete and is the third largest in the world – imagine! The best moment was when I went inside. It will take your breath away! Don’t forget to discover the top but try doing so in the evening – it’s so hot there. Even though it’s Milan’s most popular sight – it is a place you shouldn’t miss.
Pinacoteca di Brera. This is the main public gallery for paintings. It’s an awesome place. Actually, my favourite. Palazzo Brera also hosts the academy of fine arts. I was lucky enough to be there during an open day presentation. Ateliers, the botanical garden and the Biblioteca di Brera – the library – where open on that day. I discovered backyards and entered open doors. I just loved this place – it gave me calm!
Villa Necchi Campiglio. It is located on Via Mozart, a great small street with some interesting monuments. The villa was constructed between 1932 and 1935 by the Milanese architect Piero Portaluppi and has survived completely intact. It’s as if you enter a place in which time was stopped. It’s pictures and furniture, wall decorations and clothes are telling you a story long gone but still present. A magical place worth a visit! Our guide was a volunteer and she did a great job in explaining the story of each room and pointing out details of Families Necci’s life.
A place I can’t recommend and don’t want to talk about too much is the Vineyard of Leonardo da Vinci. If you look inside through the gates you have seen the best part and don’t need to pay 10 EU. The guide is a headphone that has some mistakes on it. Therefore, a person needs to accompany your group and tell you what to press when. In my eyes it wasn’t worth the price!
FOOD IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA
When travelling to a city I like eating local stuff or discovering young vibrant places. I can recommend three I had the pleasure to find, some more hidden then others. Every one of them is worth a visit.
As mentioned above we found the best ice cream in town. It’s called Gelati Sartori. You can find their little hidden booth next to central station.
Pave Bakery was a spot I found through LOST IN. It’s very hipsteresque, clean inside and offers beautiful tartlets next to brunch, lunch, coffee and most importantly for some a free WIFI hotspot. It’s in a side street, so it may be easier to note down the address when looking for it.
Finally, Tattoria Sole, a secret spot we were showed by locals. It’s located in Via Carlo Valvassori Peroni 41. The size of the meal is pretty small compared to the price, but they have a magical pasta! Dining takes place in a wide room that’s furnished like your lovely Italian aunts living room – with different sets of tables and chairs. A good place to have a small lunch and a chat about your day whilst the sun boils everything that didn’t find a shady spot in time. If you have some spare cash, buy some deliciousness for it – it’s totally worth it.
Now I am hungry and off to eating my home-made salad. Not as good as the one I had at the Pave Bakery but enjoying it anyways.