I had heard mixed reviews about Milan: there are no sites to see; it’s too industrial; it’s too work-a-day and no play. It turns out, these are the exact reasons why I loved Italy’s number two. Charles and I stayed at the conveniently located ME Milan Il Duca on Piazza della Repubblica and walked everywhere. We were:
- 10 minutes from hip Isola and Porta Garibaldi, home to the original gallery-books-fashion concept store, 10 Corso Como, and Bosco Verticale, a pair of eco-friendly and Insta-famous residential towers sheathed in 900 trees, 5,000 shrubs, and 11,000 floral plants.
- 15 minutes from the sophisticated Brera neighborhood, home to the namesake Pinacoteca di Brera filled with masterpieces by the likes of Canaletto, Titian, and Tiepolo. Charming boutiques, cafes, gelaterias, and galleries line Brera’s cobblestone streets. It was by far my favorite area of Milan.
- 20 minutes from the Quadrilatero d’Oro, the upscale shopping district in the Centro Storico, brimming with neoclassical mansions converted into luxury retail showrooms and five star hotels.
- 25 minutes from the Piazza del Duomo, the true heart of the city.
We had one of our finer meals at Michelin-starred Contraste in the buzzing Navigli neighborhood, where it seemed all the young Milanese hung out. The Art Nouveau touches of the dining room contrasted with the extensive tasting menu featuring traditional yet reinterpreted Lombard classics. We spent the next evening at the sumptuous (but steamy) Teatro alla Scala, where we witnessed Verdi’s preposterous opera, Ernani.
Of course we made time for the typical sites—the renown Duomo di Milano, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and recent addition Rem Koolhaas-designed Fondazione Prada. The 135 spires of the Duomo did not disappoint, nor did the iron-and-glass dome of the galleria. We also attempted to get an up close look at Castello Sforzesco but abandoned course after being bombarded by a multitude of vendors hocking selfie sticks.
So yes, there are things to see and do in Milan, but if you go, I highly recommend allotting plenty of time fare una passeggiata, stopping occasionally for a gelato (I highly recommend OGGI on Corso Garibaldi) or an espresso, and of course, shopping, via windows or the real thing; Milan, after all, is the Fashion Capital of the World.
Last visited in September, 2018