Fri, February 18th, 2011 - By

Spotlight: Milan


I’ve got a new spotlight today you’re going to love it.  It’s Milan!   With easy, cheap flights to Milan Bergamo airport, and tons of inexpensive accommodation in the city, it can be a great break – perfect for a spot of romance or just a change of scenery.  Milan is home to Italy’s great fashion houses, so no doubt much of the time you’ll feel under-dressed while here.  There is shopping, but much of it is couture so unless you have deep pockets, it will be just window shopping for you.   Here are a few of the other highlights you will get to see while in town.

Milan tram

Architecture

While they talk about the fashion, what they should be talking about is the city’s incredible architecture – what a beautiful place to live in!  Even cantankerous old buildings like the central railway station, with its imposing facade and massive columns, sits gracefully as the city’s well heeled residents rush to and fro.  Milan’s Duomo (pictured above), is also just as massive – be sure to pay for a ticket and head up to the top to check out the hundreds of statues up close and personal, as well as the great view.

Don’t miss any of Milan’s other churches – they’re everywhere, so if you see one, pop in.  Milan was a capital city in Italy before Rome, so the churches here are the oldest in Italy.

Off the main square where the Duomo is, there is a stunning shopping arcade that may very well be one of the prettiest in Europe.  Sadly, juxtaposed against the beautiful gold leave facade and old fashioned cafes is a massive McDonalds. Welcome to the new Europe.

Much of Milan’s architecture is newer than you will find in the rest of Italy – it was heavily targeted during WWII and several buildings were lost.  It’s still a beautiful city though.

Art

Like the rest of the country, Milan has an incredible number of pieces of priceless art – but there is one that is possibly the most moving piece of artwork I have ever seen.  We all know about the Last Supper, but did you know it was painted onto a wall in an old church?  And did you know that said church was bombed during WWII, and was hit – the only thing left standing was the wall that held the painting.  Incredible!

Today, you must prebook your Last Supper tickets well in advice – it sells out MONTHS ahead of time.  During your timed visit, you’ll enter through two barriers that prevent dust, light, and contaminates from getting into the room, as the painting is in bad shape.  But take a minute to study the picture – it is mysterious and stunning in equal measure.

The Sforzesco Castle has several galleries and other wonderful pieces, as well as the Museo d’Arte Paolo Pini and Hangar Bicocca.  Ask your accommodation for a map and to point out to you the highlights.

Saving Tips

A couple of tips for saving some coin while you’re in Milan:

  • The Milan metro is clean and safe.  Consider choosing accommodation a few stops away from the city centre for savings and still easy access into town.
  • I found many of the bakeries and little cafes had great deals on cakes and coffee and sandwiches, which mean a cheap lunch.  Save your pennies and splurge on a nice dinner – not to say that meals are expensive, but it’s worth a few extra Euros for the nicer bottle of wine.
  • Read up on the savings you can get on the Milanocard before you go and decide if it would make sense for you to get one.  If you’re definitely going to hit several museums, it can be a savings, but if you will only be interested in one or two stops, it isn’t such good value.
  • Some of Milan’s best sights are free: the public parks!  They’re not enormous, but there are several tucked away here and there.  Giardini Pubblici, Giardini della Guastalla, and Sempione park are some of the most popular.

Photo Credits: rdesai, lhoon, redjar (Note:  No pictures of the Last Supper are allowed.  The work shown is a reproduction.)

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Friday, February 18th, 2011 at 11:00
Category : Spotlight
Subscribe : RSS 2.0



Leave a Reply