I have been quite lazy and have been putting off writing about my Italy trip. I’ve got plenty of excuses (adopted a cat, started French classes, interviewed for a job, etc.). But it also just seemed so daunting, so I’ll be breaking it up into bite sized pieces.
First impressions, it’s a big city with some very modern and beautiful areas and some slummy areas as well. The drivers are always in a rush, and can be quite rude (seems like this is kind of just an overall Italian thing).
I stayed in Ostello Bello Grande, and it is probably the best hostel I have stayed at to date. Honestly the only downside my entire stay there was that my dorm-mates the first night smelled like sweaty feet… but that’s a risk you take at any hostel. The staff is incredibly friendly and welcoming, the location is right next to the main train station (and a cat cafe), and they offer free breakfast and aperitivo!
Aperitivos are a sort of happy hour with free appetizers (read, delicious Italian food) offered by restaurants and bars throughout the city. If you want to go out, Deus Café, has an aperitivo with good cocktails. It’s crowded, even on a Tuesday, and seems to be a trendy place frequented by locals.
The Duomo is a must see. It’s the most magnificent, beautiful, and impressive church ever. The interior is grand and solemn, but you HAVE to go up to the terrace. If you’re tight on time, you can skip the museum, unless you really want to see detailed pieces of the church up close.
About a 15 minute walk away is the San Lorenzo Basilica, one of the oldest churches in Milan with a beautiful ceiling fresco. It is much less crowded and touristy around this area.
Taking a break from the city, I went to the Castello Sforzesco, Arco della Pace, and the surrounding Parco Sempione. If you have limited time, I recommend renting a bike to explore because it’s a massive park.
My last evening in Milan, I strolled around the Navigli canals with a girl I met at the hostel. After the sun sets and the heat becomes more bearable, the canals turn into a bustling place with shops, bars, and restaurants full of people. We bought a couple beers to walk around with at BQ Milano, a small Italian craft beer spot with a great selection.
During my stay in Milan, I was reading Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan. It’s a novel based on a young man’s actual story during WWII, set in Milan and Northern Italy. I can’t recommend it enough (and it’s free with Kindle Unlimited). Besides making me ugly cry, reading it gave me some depth to everything I saw in Milan.
Lessons and Tips
- Watch out for cars
- Staying at a hostel? Stay at Ostello Bello Grande
- Have as many apertivos as you can
- Go up to the Duomo terrace early in the day to avoid the crowds
- Go to the Navigli canals in the evenings to be with the crowds
Photos taken with the iPhone 6s or Fujifilm X-E2s