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Our quick two-day guide for a trip to Milan, Italy

With my 40th birthday approaching, I decided I’d like to spend this special birthday in Milan as we love Italy so much. We invited Jason’s sister Katie, and brother-in-law Alex along to make it even more of a celebration. This is our quick two-day guide for a trip to Milan, Italy.

Before travelling, we pinned so many highlights to our Google map, hoping we could do as much as possible in the two days we were there. We really wanted to make the most of our time here. We caught the train to Milan Central Station from the airport to the centre of the city. This cost around €13, this was much cheaper than a taxi would have been.

Our quick two-day guide for a trip to Milan, Italy.
Even Milan train station is a work of art.

THE ASSASSINATION OF MAURIZIO GUCCI

As we walked from the station, we passed the site where someone shot and killed former head of the world-famous fashion house Gucci. This was somewhere Katie was really interested in seeing. Maurizio Gucci’s assassination took place on the steps of his office on via Palestro in 1995. In 1998, the court convicted Patrizia Reggiani, his wife, for organising the murder.


Walking on, we found this cute little church; so we decided to pop in for a peep. It was actually really beautiful and set the morning up perfectly. You can find the Chiesa di San Gregorio Magno, Church of Saint Gregory the Great, at Via S. Gregorio, 24, if you would like to take a look yourself.

DUOMO DI MILANO

We bought our tickets for the Duomo online back home, which included access to the rooftop via the stairs at €16 per person. There is an option to buy tickets with lift access. This meant we could join a different queue and enter quicker. The tickets are available to add to your Apple or Google wallets, making them easily accessible.

This incredible cathedral dominates the city’s main piazza. The Duomo is one of the largest cathedrals in the world; it took over 600 years to complete.

Not only will you look in awe at just how spectacular the cathedral’s interior is here, you will find many incredible things. As you walk through the main doors, you will see a brass line running the width of the cathedral. This is the Duomos’ very own solar meridian. Signs of the zodiac run alongside it, and sunlight shines through a small window, hitting the sign that represents each month.

High above the main altar, you will see a large round effigy with a red light shining. It is said that one nail belonging to Jesus’ crucifixion cross is inside here.

You can also see the marble statue of Saint Bartholomew, who suffered the gruesome fate of being flayed alive. His skin wrapped around him like a cloak.

ABOVE & BELOW THE DUOMO

We climbed to the top of the duomo for panoramic views across the city. From the top you could see the Velasca Tower, a famous skyscraper built in the 1950s with its iconic bulging top. The Piazza below, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, you could even see the San Siro football stadium off into the distance.

We also ventured underneath where we learned about previous structures that were built on this sacred site before the impressive gothic building we see today. Roman archaeology, old buildings and tombs. Saint Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, baptized Saint Augustine, in a huge octangle font, which you can still see in this place.

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SANTUARIO DI SAN BERNARDINO ALLE OSSA

This 13th-century Catholic church includes an ossuary with frescoes lined with human skulls & bones. Also, next door is the grand Basilica di Santo Stefano Maggiore. You can find these amazing places a short walk from the Duomo. There is no entrance fee, however, make sure you leave a donation in a box. It is so worth it for the upkeep. You’ll find both churches on the Piazza Santo Stefano.

LEONARDO DA VINCI’S THE LAST SUPPER

Tickets to see da Vinci’s famous work sell out quickly, so we were incredibly lucky to get them. We booked our tickets online before the trip. They cost €15 each, and one reason they sell so quickly is that they only allow 35 people to enter the room at one time. You get 15 minutes inside the room. It’s all carefully done so as not to expose the painting to too much moisture from the air. This was something all of us were looking forward to seeing.

The mural lives in the Convent of Santa Maria Delle Grazie.

FIVE FACTS ABOUT THE LAST SUPPER

  • The painting is a mural, and not a fresco. The speed at which it was painted, the plaster, temperer, and methods used, are the reasons why this is a mural. Artists paint frescos quickly and have little time to make corrections. This was obviously a slower process. This is also the reason why the painting has deteriorated compared to most.
  • There is an idea that he used the faces of people he knew, and people on the street, sketching as he watched them. There is also a theory he used his own face for Saint James the Less (second from left) on the painting.
  • To the left of Jesus sits John the Apostle, or does he? Another theory is that this could be Mary Magdalene in disguise, as it is the only figure in the group that seems to wear a necklace.
  • War has damaged the painting significantly. First, by French revolutionary soldiers from the 17th century. Then by bombs falling around it during World War II.
  • The Last Supper is 460 cm × 880 cm (180 in × 350 in), approximately 29 feet by 15 feet high.

EXPLORE THE MONUMENTAL CEMETERY

Our quick two-day guide for a trip to Milan, Italy.
The Monumental Cemetery, Cimitero Monumentale.

The biggest cemetery in Milan, it opened in 1866. A really beautiful and peaceful place in such a busy city. Even the entrance is a sight to behold. Famous burials include fashion designer Franco Moschino, Formula 1 driver Alberto Ascari, famous poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni, and world famous drink maker Gaspare Campari. His family tomb has a giant bronze representation of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’.

I don’t think we have ever seen so many beautifully designed tombs, monuments, and crypts in one place. Each one is a testament to the person or families they represent, singers, artists, business owners, designers, famous TV and movie stars, sports people. You name it; they are all here. There are thousands of burials and cremations, and the old crematorium still exists at the top of the site.

Our quick two-day guide for a trip to Milan, Italy.
Cremation plots dating as far back as the 1800s.

GO SHOPPING AT GALLERIA VITTORIO EMANUELE II

If fashion is your thing, then you will be at home here in Milan. Known worldwide for its famous fashion houses, designers and shopping, it’s a fashionistas wet dream!

The gallery is also one of the world’s oldest shopping malls. Construction started in 1865. They named it after the first king of Italy.

By complete accident, we were also in Milan for Fashion Week. Kim Kardashian was there headlining the catwalk for Dolce & Gabbana. The next day, they opened up the gallery across from the Duomo where she held her afterparty, and we were allowed inside to see it.

THE LUCKY BULL OF MILAN

Inside the Galleria, in the centre, on the floor, lies the mosaic of a bull. It is said that if you place your heel on the bulls ‘bits’ and spin three times, it will bring you luck.

You can make out where countless people have done just that as his, ahem, ‘bits’ have all but worn away and all that’s left is the hole where you place your foot.


WINE & DINE IN THE NAVIGLI DISTRICT

The most lively area of Milan with lots of fantastic places for food and cocktail bars. A little canal runs through the middle. Definitely the place to be if you want to party. One of these places we found by watching a travel show.

BACKDOOR43

We first saw this bar on the TV show ‘Travel Man’ with Richard Ayoade here in England and knew instantly we wanted to go if we ever visited Milan. The self-claimed world’s smallest bar seats a maximum of 4 people per session. You reserve a space online for a deposit of €15 each. This covers your first drink inside. You can then purchase more drinks and can get one to take away if you like. You have control of the music, and the bartender explains the cocktails while he makes them. An absolute must-visit. Address: Ripa di Porta Ticinese, 43.

MORE FOOD & DRINK RECOMMENDATIONS

GINO SORBILLO PIZZERIA

A big favourite of ours, we have eaten at his restaurants several times, in various Italian cities, so why would we miss out on eating here in Milan? Great pizza. You’ll find this eatery down the side of the Galleria Vittorio, Via Ugo Foscolo, 1.

ALICE PIZZA

We first came across Alice Pizza in Rome, easy for quick grabbable pizza on the go. This one is good and recommended.

Alice Pizza, Milan.
Alice Pizza, Mlian. Great for quick pizza on the go.

OSTERIA DA FORTUNATA

We have seen so many great reviews of this restaurant, and we missed it the first time round when we visited Rome. The food did not disappoint, amazing pasta, good portion sizes, very flavourful and worth a visit. You can find Osteria Da Fortunata at Via Fiori Chiari, 13.

UGO COCKTAIL BAR & BISTRO

Another great cocktail bar in the Navigli District is UGO. We spent a fortune here on shots and cocktails, but had the best time. It was my birthday, after all. UGO is located next to the river, at Via Corsico, 12.


FOUR MORE THINGS YOU COULD ADD TO YOUR MILAN ITINERARY

Branca Tower. To experience incredible 360 degree views of the city, you can choose between using the elevator or walking up the stairs. This huge 109 meter steel structure is located in Parco Sempione.

Sforza Castle and Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini Tour. Explore all the secrets hidden in the Sforza Castle of Milan with this 1.5-hour guided experience inside one of the symbols of the city.

Guided Street Food Walking Tour with Food Tasting. Join a local guide and explore the historic center of Milan on a guided walking tour. Sample Italian street food from north to south, and see some of the city’s highlights, like the Duomo.

La Scala Theatre and Museum Guided Tour. Discover Milan’s iconic La Scala Theatre on a guided tour. Learn about the music legends who have performed on its stage and admire a vast collection of musical treasures at the La Scala Museum.

Admire the Duomo di Milano at night.
Admire the Duomo di Milano at night.

Aside from all this, mooch around and enjoy the city. There is so much more to see. Amazing architecture on every street, monuments, cute shops, more designer stores, great places to eat, you could even ride a tram. Milan has everything for a perfect city break.

Our quick two-day guide for a trip to Milan, Italy.

ITALIAN INSPIRATION

If you would like some more Italian inspiration, read: 15 awesome things you can’t miss in Venice, Italy, Our four-day guide to Sorrento, Italy, Our four-day guide to Sorrento, Italy.

You can also visit the home of Italian tourism, Italia.IT.



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