Travelled on: 9.11.18 – 11.11.18
We caught the 8:05 flight from Stansted airport and arrived in Milan airport at around 11pm. We hadn’t yet sorted out transfers but it was relatively easy to find a coach that took approx 45 mins to get us into central Milan, near the main station. The coach was €5 and from the main station we were able to use maps and walk to the air B n B, L’Isola di Romy. Despite being cheap (<€50 per night), I liked this accommodation, we had our own room with a shared bathroom. They served a continental style breakfast in a communal dining room and it felt very homely. The owners were accommodating, bringing an iron and hairdryer when needed, they also held our breakfast for us when we were late on the Saturday morning and even printed our return flight boarding passes.
When we arrived on the friday we were quite hungry so we ate at a nearby burger bar called Streats it was friendly and even though it was late and they were tidying up, we were lucky enough that they still served us.
One thing I really liked about Milan was the transport system. Living in London I am used to convenient public transport and Milan mirrored this. We were able to get to everywhere we needed via the Metro where we had bought a 2 day pass for only 8 Euros, which is so much cheaper than even a daily pass for London. I was also impressed by the tram system. I’m not a train fanatic (although I may sound like one) but ever since I went on one with school at the black country museum as a child I’ve always been a fan of trams. I love the tram service in Nottingham and it’s much like the DLR in London. However the ones here in Milan were old-fashioned trams, making them even more interesting. When they go past with the old buildings in the background, it can almost feel like stepping into another time. Much of Milan is also walkable and you can hire city bikes. Unfortunately the weekend we went there was a lot of rain so we opted for the underground.
In London on a Saturday morning we usually run the 5k Park Run and interestingly they also have a Park Run in Milan so we checked this out. The run is in Parko Nord Milano and the course is very flat ( I actually got a PB on this day so I was quite pleased we had gone). After the Park Run we made our way back to the B n B where they had kindly saved us breakfast. We had our first Italian made espresso, which was a buzz after the run! After showers we headed out to the city going to the stop Duomo to see the Duomo di Milan which is a cathedral originally dating back to 1386. You can go inside the Cathedral for €3-4 or take a tour to the rooftop for €10-15 depending on the package you opt for.
Around this main square area you can also do some shopping through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II, it’s quite a magnificent building to be inside with lots of mosaic flooring and walls. One of the mosaic floors has the famous bull on the coat of arms of Torino, there is a hole in the mosaic where the bulls balls are supposed to be. It is said that luck and fortune is brought to people who place their heel over the hole and turn 3 times, they call this ‘squeezing the bull’. There were quite a few people in a circle all hoping for better fortune as they filmed themselves spinning around the bull.
We then decided to visit the Museo Del Novecento which is a 20th century art museum offering insight into the collections that the city has inherited. The museum gave us a fantastic birds eye view of the square, Piazza del Duomo, and the Duomo di Milan Cathedral. Although it’s recommended, we didn’t go up to the top of the Cathedral as it was raining, I really enjoyed the indoor views and recommend going to this museum if not only for these views. There are many other museums to access in the area and the €12, 2 day pass allows access to multiple museums in the area.
After the museum we grabbed an ice-cream at Granaio Caffé e Cucina and jumped on the metro towards Metro station Conciliazione.We wanted to see two things here. Firstly the Santa Maria delle Grazie which is the building which hosts the Da Vinci’s Last supper. Secondly the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Technologia Leonardo da Vinci which is a science museum that offers collections including Da Vinci’s art work and mechanical models.
Unfortunately there were no spaces to visit The Last Supper, this is what happens when, if like us, you leave things to the last-minute. I definitely learnt from this to make sure I book in advance the things I would like to do most of all.
We did manage to get tickets for the science museum and actually during this weekend there was a science festival on including extra events. I liked the Da Vinci section where we found various machine models including flying machines. How so much creativity could come out of one person is beyond me! There was also a section in the museum on energy and Ernie got to see a Volta battery (one of the worlds first electrical batteries) which seemed to be interesting for a physics teacher….
After an early morning run and exploring the city we were feeling quite tired so we retired to the B n B for a nap before heading back out into the early evening. For food in the evening we headed towards Naviglio Pavese which are a series of canals from Milan to Pavia which date back to the 14th century. The canals had many restaurants and bars running alongside and were bustling with people eating and drinking during Milan’s Aperitivo.
We opted for pizza and pasta in family run pizzeria. After food we took a slow walk around the canals and up to the Peace Arch, there was plenty of night life around this area with people using it as a meeting point, people playing music and dancing in the street or people finishing off their aperitivo before heading out into the night. We eventually made our way back to the B n B.
After a lazy lie in kind of morning we again had breakfast at the B n B and headed towards the Vertical Forests or Bosco Verticale which is a sustainable residential building in the area Isola in Milan. It is within an urban biodiversity project focusing on reforestation and naturalisation within cities, designed by Stefano Boeri, Gianandrea Barreca and Giovanni La Varra. Within this project was a sustainable park area which showed some brilliant ideas on how to make use of community outdoor spaces in urban areas.
The area Isola is a quirky area itself with lots of street art and various community projects going on. It also had this handy outdoor book-share library.
As we had liked Navigli canals so much the previous night we decided to go back during the day. There was a different feeling visiting by daylight, it was much more quiet and chilled, there were small artist shops open along the water. We also found a shop that sold Sicilian arancini which I love thanks to my good friend Futura!
Ernie thought about visiting the football stadium San Siro but decided to leave this for another time. Instead we returned to the center Piazza del Duomo and had coffee and cake at one of the flagship Lavazza stores. We chose to share the taster plate of desserts and coffees which had small spoons of tiramisu, amaretto biscuits and fancy bubbled spirits which burst in your mouth as you bite them.
We wrote some post cards and sent these off before heading towards the airport. My mum likes to receive cards even though I’m not traveling far, or for long. We caught a late flight back to Stansted airport in the evening feeling full of insight and stories from our mini Milan adventure.