After Paris, Milan seemed a bit gray, dull even, the threat of thunderstorms not helping her cause. However, we lucked out with only scatterings of rain during our brief passing through this city. Milano also delighted us with bright spots and we enjoyed this industrial city much more than we expected.
The Duomo was absolutely extraordinary, the thousands of statutes detailing more than photographs could ever portray. We explored the roof on a quiet morning, thankful for the white clouds holding back the rain and the early for holding back the crowds.
Milano though, gave us the blessing to dive into Italy with gusto. It was much easier on our budget than Paris, even more so as the birthplace of the appertivo: happy hour here comes with an AYCE buffet. Y’s go-to cocktail quickly became the Negroni while L dabbled with the spritzes, trying to find the the right bittersweet balance, simply happy that the cost of a drink covered a cheap meal.
We’ll be back Milan, next time with space in the suitcase for some shopping.
Order your ticket in advance so you don’t have to stand in an additional line. We did the cathedral and terrace by foot options and recommend both – the hike up to the top was not too bad. We went to the terraces right when they opened and were able to enjoy the view with almost no one in sight. The line definitely gets longer in the day, we waited about 30 minutes to get into the duomo.
Walk About Tour (★)
We are champions of free walking tours. This was a great introduction to Milan and our guide was very engaging and informational.
Santuario di San Bernardino alle Ossa (★★)
Attached to a small unassuming church is an ossuary, a room that was built to hold human bones when the nearby cemetery ran out of room. Call it creepy if you will, but it was fascinating and in our opinion, quite a sight to see.
Some Italian Words Relating to Food
- Coperto: In Italy, it is common to be charged a seating fee, basically a fixed tip of a few euros. So if there’s a nice park nearby, save some money and get it as take away (which is what they call “to go”)
- Apertivo: This is great Milanese invention for those on a budget (and can still be enjoyed by those who are not 😉). Typically in Italy, you order a drink during happy hour and get snacks – some potato chips, olives, chunks of parmesano you’re lucky. In Milan, you pay for a drink and get an all you can eat buffet. We paid €11 each for our first Aperol Spritzer and Negorni, eating our share of the spread before us. This was on the higher end but that’s because we wanted more variety. Our experience with the cheaper apertivos is that they are on par with airplane lounge food.
Right by the duomo, the perfect snack of carbs and melty goodness. It’s like a Krispy Kreme and Hot Pocket had a baby. We only had these savory ones, but enjoyed the salami and tomato panzerottis. The line moves quickly.
If you are window-shopping or actual shopping, sit down with your bags for a breather here. The espresso is stupendous and it’s just a beautifully decorated spot to stop at. This spot isn’t that cheap, but if you’re only having a coffee and snack it won’t break the bank.
Who says you have to go to Venice for canals? A cute neighborhood to walk through, had our first apertivos here. The food likely won’t be that amazing at the bars here, but the drinks are strong, the view and vib is nice, and the prices are right.
Gelateria le Colonne (★)
If you are wandering Navigli, walk right to this shop instantly. The gelato was delicious and apparently the crepes aren’t half bad either.
La Locanda (★)
If you are staying in the Wagner neighborhood, it is worth trying this restaurant, owned by Chinese and run by Chinese waitstaff, but cooking very standard Italian food. Seriously, we would’ve never stepped foot into this place if it didn’t come highly recommended by our AirBnb host. The bucatini was very good, the saffron risotto was fine. L devoured the breadsticks.