Adoration 4 Adventure’s local guide for visitors to Milan, Italy by A4A guest writer, Cinzia Ferri.
Local guide posts provide recommendations for destinations from locals who are currently living or have lived in that particular place. Including information on the top places to eat, drink, stay and how to get around with an emphasis on saving money.
Overview of Milan
Milan is the second biggest city in Italy, after Rome, and one of the most underrated places in the country. If you ask Italians about Milan, they most likely will tell you that it’s an ugly industrial town, full of traffic and noise, absolutely not worth visiting. Well, that might have been true for Milan twenty years ago, nowadays – thanks to the Expo 2015 as well – it has become one of the most interesting, modern, vibrant, international Italian towns. Milan’s beauty is not as obvious as that of Rome, Florence, or Venice, but the city really has a lot to offer.
Top 5 places to visit
5. Porta Nuova
This area has been completely redesigned and amazing buildings have been built in the past five years or so. The heart of the area is Piazza Gae Aulenti, a modern square titled to the famous female architect. From there, you can see all the works of architecture which have been created, most of which have also received important architectural prizes. The most important buildings are il Bosco Verticale (vertical forest), a complex of two buildings designed by Stefano Boeri, which host approximately 900 trees, the amazing Unicredit Tower by Cesar Pelli and the Palazzo della Regione Lombardia (Lombardy Region Headquarters).
4. I Navigli
The Navigli are the center of Milan’s nightlife, but they are absolutely worth visiting during the day as well. They are a network of canals, partly designed by Leonardo Da Vinci. In the past, they stretched all around the city, what remains now are just two canals: the Naviglio Grande and the Naviglio Pavese. The area around the canals is quite busy at night, while during the day is a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of the city center. Walking there, you’ll feel like being in a small town with cozy restaurants, small shops, and art galleries.
3. Pinacoteca di Brera
The Pinacoteca di Brera is an outstanding museum of art which contains one of the most important art collections in Italy. There you can see paintings and works of Raffaello, Piero della Francesca, Caravaggio, Tintoretto, the famous Kiss by Francesco Hayez, and many other paintings by incredible masters. When you are done with art, you could visit the adjoining Orto Botanico (Botanical Garden), which is really old and fascinating. Tickets for the museum are 10 euros, but the entrance is free on the first Sunday of the month. Entrance to the Botanical Garden is free.
2. Cenacolo Vinciano
The real jewel of Milan is in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and its Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper. This incredible mural painting is one of the most famous in the world and you definitely cannot miss it. Unfortunately, it has been damaged over the years, due to humidity, bad restoration attempts, and even some bombings during World War II, but it somehow managed to survive and it has now been properly restored. The entrance to the Cenacolo is strictly limited and must be booked in advance. Tickets are 12 euros.
1. Il Duomo
The Duomo, Milan’s Cathedral, is the symbol of the city and the most loved place in town. Locals have a particular fondness for this place and for the Madonnina, the golden statue of Virgin Mary which protects the city from high above the roof of the church. The Cathedral is totally worth visiting (entrance is 2 euros), but a visit to the roof is not to be missed as well (entrance is 9 euros if you are willing to go up the stairs) as the view is great. Close to the Cathedral is the Museo del Novecento, an amazing collection of 20th-century art (entrance is 10 euros, but it is only 6 euros every Tuesday after 2 pm and two hours before closing).
Eating and drinking
Milan is incredibly full of dining and drinking options. As in every big European city, you can find more or less everything you want. Prices are not exactly cheap, though. If you are on a budget, you can solve the problem of eating something buying a slice of pizza or a sandwich in a bakery and then eating it in a public park. A true Milanese tradition is to get a panzerotto, some kind of fried turnover, at Luini: a filling and cheap option right in the city center, a few steps away from the Duomo.
Another very popular place is Spontini, which serve pizza by the slice in various city locations. If you are looking for some trendier solutions, you can try the Navigli or the Isola neighborhood, they are packed with restaurants and hipster cafès, offering all kinds of drinks and food.
Getting around the city is very easy. There is quite an extensive public transport system: there are many metro, bus and tram lines, which take you more or less everywhere. A single ride ticket is 1,50 euros (it is valid for 90 minutes since validation, with one metro ride only), a daily ticket is 4,50 euros and it is valid for 24 hours since validation. Tickets can be bought at the automated vending machines in every metro station, at kiosks and newsagents’ around town, but not on board. Tickets must be validated before boarding.
Milan has a bike-sharing system too. You’ll find many bike stations to pick up and drop off bikes in the city center. To use the bikes you have to register on the BikeMi website. Daily subscription is 2.30 Euros, while the weekly one is 6 Euros. You’ll find all information you need regarding both public transport and bike-sharing on the ATM Milan website.
Milan is undoubtedly one of the most expensive Italian towns when it comes to accommodation. Finding a cheap hotel in the city can be really difficult, then. The best solution for sleeping in the city would be renting an apartment via AirBnb, which gives you the opportunity of finding accommodation in the city center without being ripped off. There are thousands of good flat and apartments around town and you can find affordable ones even in the very center.
If you are more of a hotel type, instead, it would be better to look for a solution outside the city center, like for example the area of San Siro Stadium or other less central neighborhoods, from which you can easily get into the city with the metro.
A4A guest writer – Cinzia Ferri
Hi, Cinzia here! I live in Italy, I adore travelling and I am my own boss at Instantly Italy, where I help people enjoy Italy at its best. I teach Italian and create custom travel guides for independent travelers who want to see Italy with the help of a local.
All photos in this article are courtesy of Turismo Milano Website and flickr.
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