Before the melancholy of vacation withdrawal sets in, I’m here to share how I recently spent two weeks in Italy. First stop: Milan. We only spent one full day in Milan, so that’s all you’re getting folks! A one day walking itinerary (sort of) to help you plan your trip. While traveling by car in foreign countries is some people’s cup of tea, it isn’t for me. So all our guides in Italy are doable by foot or public transportation. I realize what I enjoy is likely not everyone’s cup of tea, so I included a few other tips at the bottom. I recommend staying in the Brera district. Everything was within a 30 minute radius from our airbnb, and it’s a cute district with lots of restaurants and stores. Happy planning!
My top 5 things to see and do in Milan:
1. Duomo di Milano – This is the third largest church in the world and is a gorgeous landmark in the center of the city. It took nearly 600 years to build, and as such was apparently constructed with many conflicting architectural styles. Regardless, it is a building that left me in awe (and with great instagram pictures – no shame). From the magnificent spires that pierce the sky, to the archaeological ruins in the basement, there is plenty to see. To visit, I recommend getting an early start. The crowds get quite large during the day and entry will require a long wait. You can purchase your tickets to the right of the Duomo (in advance if you wish). The rooftop is especially spectacular to see and I highly recommend spending a little more money to visit!
2. Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II – Luxury brands and fine dining restaurants encased in a towering glass arcade. After visiting the Duomo, head over to the beautiful shopping mall for some window shopping. Or regular shopping if you have the money. I did not, but it is worth seeing all the same. Josh got his dad a tobacco pipe from one of the boutique stores!
3. Vintage Shop – Since new fancy designer clothes wasn’t in my budget, I wanted to check out a few vintage shops. Known as the fashion capital of the world, Milan has no shortage of clothing stores, including vintage ones. Head to Via Gian Giacomo Mora (a street) for a great selection of second hand clothing for both men and women. There are at least 3 vintage shops on this street and two have separate shops for men as well. If you don’t feel like walking that far from Brera district, there are several close by, just keep in mind most cater to women. Shops close to Brera district: Madame Pauline Vintage, Il Cameo, Cavalli e Nastri (second location), Demaldè (vintage jewelry) and Napoleone (near Duomo). Some are closed on Sundays and during midday, so make sure you check hours before your trip.
4. San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore – A 16th century church full of beautiful biblical-themed fresco paintings. Frescoes are paintings that are completed on wet plaster with watercolours. As the painting dries it penetrates the plaster and becomes permanent. The paintings last for hundreds of years. The church doesn’t appear as much from the outside, but inside is a marvel to look at. AND BONUS: it’s free of charge and is on the way to our last recommended stop. Josh wasn’t a fan of visiting churches, but he isn’t interested in much besides watches so…Jk Jk! Sort of… (HA! hopefully he doesn’t read this).
5. Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper Painting – How can you come to Milan and not see the masterpiece that is the Last Supper?! Prior to our trip, I was not aware that the painting is in fact, a very large wall mural. It has required considerable restoration over the years as a result of the method used to paint it. Leonado Da Vinci chose to experiment with a new method of painting, straying from the traditional fresco. The new method allowed him to paint on dry plaster and as such, he was able to halt painting and return to it as he wished. This method proved unsuccessful in longevity, and it soon began to separate from the wall. If you wish to see the painting, be aware that tickets go on sale two months at a time and sell out very quickly. Purchase your tickets well in advance of your trip at this website.
Have more than 1 day in Milan? Here are three other bonus recommendations I researched, but didn’t have time to check out (insert sad face).
- Eat Osso Bucco and Risotto Milanese – For meat eaters only, as even the risotto is cooked with bone marrow. It’s a traditional dish of the area and one you should definitely try! I lied above, I did actually try this and it was quite good!
- Visit Orto Botanico Di Brera – A small botanical garden that is a quiet escape in the city. If you are visiting in the spring/summer/early fall months, this is a great place to go to escape the crowds. The garden is open 9:30am-4:30pm and is closed on Sunday. Unfortunately we didn’t get to visit because we were there on a Sunday.
- Wes Anderson’s Bar Luce – If you have more time than we did, and if you are a Wes Anderson fan, catch the metro to see his cafe. It’s got good reviews and the decor is super cute!