Italy, the land of sunshine, great food, serious eye candy, and beautiful towns, villages, and cities.
Well, sort of.
Most people would agree with me that Milan is one of the uglier cities Italy has to offer, complete with pollution, traffic, and a grey pallor that not even the scorching hot summers seem to be able to burn away. The eye candy is still pretty serious though. And the food…
The Duomo is the main church of Milan, and I have to say they outdid themselves with this one. It’s huge, amazing, and being terribly disserviced by my lackluster adjectives. You can enter for free, but pictures cost a few euros. If you’ve got a few extra bucks for a ticket I recommend going to to the roof, which can be accessed by stairs or by elevator for a small price increase.
Nearby is San Maurizio, a smaller, but no less impressive, gem. Constructed in 1503, this little church is literally covered in frescoes and has free entry every day. It is right next to the Architectural Museum.
It’s difficult to go wrong with gelaterias in Milan, but some places are exceptionally exceptional. By far, Ciocolatitaliani has the most amazing ice cream ever. They fill your cone with melted chocolate of your choice (white, milk or dark), and then you pick your choice of 2-3 flavors. Add whipped cream for the full sugar overload effect.
If you’re really craving chocolate, you can get your choice of white, milk or dark right in a cup, no superfluous cone and ice-cream involved.
This place is so legit that you have to take a number, place and pay for your order, and then wait for your number to be served. Near the Duomo, Ciocolatialiani is easy to add into your day’s activities.
Luini’s is conveniently located across the street from Ciocolatialiani, which makes this one corner of Milan a one-stop-shop to gastrological decadence. Stop here for a savory panzerotto (fried or baked stuffed bread), or even a pastry if the ice-cream across the street isn’t your thing. I recommend the ricotta and spinach, the tomato mozzarella, or spicy salami and mozzarella. You can get two for about 5 euros.
If you can walk anymore, it’s worth it to visit the Castello Sforzesco and the attached gardens in the back, where you can find lovely landscaping, sculptures, and L’Arco della Pace, or The Arch of Peace. The only cost is if you want to enter the museum.
If you can navigate the city reasonably well, I recommend La Reginella and Pizza Man for some of the most amazing pizza you will ever taste in your life. Ever.
Finish your day with an aperitivo along the softly lit navigli, or canals. Generally, for no more than 8-10 euros you can have a drink of your choice and unlimited finger foods that put U.S. happy hour to shame. At one happy hour I chose from clams, pasta dishes, pizzas, cheeses, cured meats, fresh fruit, and desserts. Now that’s how you do it.
- In early Spring, Milan might as well be flooded. In the summer you might as well be in the desert. Stick to late April, June, and September for visits, or make sure you’re hydrated and protected.
- Most museums are either free or discounted for visitors 25 and under
- The Architectural Museum and Museo del Novecento (both in the historical district) have free entry on Fridays after 1:00PM for all ages.
- In center city, avoid the people who try to give you bracelets. Be firm. They can handle it. Unless of course you want to pay a euro for the bracelets.
- If you’re not completely grossed out by having dozens of city pigeons land on or near you, pay no more than a euro to the guy who gives you a handful of rice. He might ask for five.
Traveling missionaries can check out Pearl House for accommodations. Contact me for more info.