Milan, Italy was the fourth stop on my three week trip in Europe, and the last of the Italian portion. When initially planning my itinerary for the trip, Milan was not on it, in fact I was almost trying to avoid it. I had not heard about any information about the city that was drawing me in to make a stop. If you love fashion (and can afford it) by all means go. But next time I visit, I will definitely need to have a local to show me around. Milan, Italy was my least favourite stop on my whole three week trip. A combination of sites being closed, standing in too long of lines and it being freezing outside, Milan was not a memory I wanted at the top of my list.
Heavily Italian, but it is touristy enough that many shops and restaurants spoke English, and I didn’t have trouble ordering food, or asking for help.
I didn’t stay in Milan, Italy! It felt a bit weird visiting Milan for the day but not actually staying in the city overnight or having somewhere to check-in. I took the morning train in from Imola, through Bologna [read about those visits here], to arrive in Milan for the day.
I didn’t have anywhere to store my large travel backpack, but sourced out a newer company called BAGBNB. At the time of my travel (March 2018), this company only had a few cities available to store your backpacks. Today (October 2019) they are ALL over the world, over 2500 locations. It’s simple, you find an ‘angel’ aka a store, cafe, bike shop etc. that will store and keep your bag secure, until you’d like to pick it up. This costed me 5 Euros, and my bag was untouched for the day of travel. P.s. this was not sponsored or support by BAGBNB, just sharing an awesome new feature in the world of travel.
After dropping my bag off, my exploration began for the day.
In Milan, I don’t remember taking the train except for when I first arrived into the city Bologna, I never even took transit, except for the train in and out of the city. The sights I was seeing were within walking distance to one another, which may have been why I disliked what I saw so much, I was missing the hidden gems!
As mentioned above, I took the train in from Imola, passing through Bologna station, enjoying a much needed espresso, catching up on some emails and organizing my content. I also was trying to journal as much as possible when I had downtime travelling. This has been a great way to reflect on my trip and experiences.
After dropping off my bag at my BAGBNB, I needed to buy a hairbrush. Yes of all things, a hairbrush. Which I forgot to pack and because I was using bars of soap for shampoo, I found my hair to bet getting matted faster thank usual. I stopped by the Flying Tiger store which is an organizer’s dream. Every little nick nack you could think of, with an Ikea flair, just Danish, not Swedish.
Next up was the first attraction, the Duomo di Milano. Holy moly, what a sight to see. I knew you could go up and inside the Duomo, but the signs were confusing, onto how, or which tickets to buy when I got there. When I arrived, I was early enough I could have gone inside with the short line (I think), but instead I walked around getting my bearings, only to come back around the corner and see a HUGE line up. A discouraging feeling when you’re on your own.
After waiting 30 mins in one line on the right, I realized I was in the wrong line as I wanted to walk up the stairs to the top (a cheaper ticket) than take the elevator and tour. I switched lines to the left side of the Duomo and waited another 90 minutes. It was enjoyable to get to know the other travellers in line, of course spotting Canadian backpacks as I waited. Once inside, up the stairs and to the top, the view was breath taking. As I’m scared of heights, it was a bit unnerving, but the detail of architecture, history and preservation was impeccable.
My mind always races back to when this was built, and what resources, methods, machinery and equipment, workers would have had to build such a stand out structure. The construction of the Duomo began in 1386, can you imagine? There would have been no cranes to lift the marble pieces to the top. How did they plan the building with no architecture software? With the development of physics, math and science still coming together? A bit of the science nerd in me, but I wish I could go back in time to see how it was done.
After exploring the top, I was ready to go inside the cathedral, and began taking the stairs down, as that’s what I had purchased, a stairs ticket.
Once I came to the bottom, walking back outside, I was confused. A security officer said, I was supposed to take the elevator down to reach the inside of the Cathedral. Dang it. There was no signs indicating this. I had purchased the cheaper ticket, thinking I couldn’t take the elevator at all, even though you were supposed to for part two of the ticket. I asked if I could re-enter, but all workers said I had to stand back in line. It was freezing and muggy this day too. With nearly frozen fingers, and a need for the bathroom I cut my losses and walked away from the Cathedral. A big disappointment.
This almost took me to tears. It was nearing 3pm already in the day after all this waiting, I hadn’t even had lunch yet. The one plus side was I had found the free bathrooms I kept using while walking around the plaza, ha!
My next stop was I believe the Archaeological Area (not pictured) , which I had planned to do after the Duomo, as it opened at 2:30pm, and thought was included in my Duomo stairs ticket…but wasn’t. It was another 12 Euros. Fail #2 of the day. I decided it was time to move away from this area of the city, and lift my spirits.
My Airbnb host in Imola had suggested a famous restaurant in Milan, Italy that was worth finding. But once I googled it, of course it was closed from 3 – 7pm. Fail #3 of the day.
I thought okay no problem, we’ll get back on track and make this day positive. It was still a cold day, and because I was outside walking around the plaza for most of it, I was chilly.
Next on the list was Sforzesco Castle. With a quick pit stop admiring another beautiful cathedral in Milan, Italy (and to warm up a bit), pictured above.
I learned quickly, most of Milan’s cafes and restaurants close between 3 – 7pm. I admire the employers, the ability to turn off work, go home and recharge before the evening shift. But I was hungry. I grabbed a quick veggie burger at an open cafe near the castle, which did the best it could (not the tastiest).
After filling my belly (making me much happier), I started to explore the Castle. With a wide court yard in the middle, it was a sight to see. I was interested in going inside the castle, but when I approached the entrance it said it closes at 5:00pm…it was 5:10pm, fail #4 for the day.
I thought okay not my luck, but let’s keep a positive mindset and go to the next site on my list to see, the site where The Last Supper took place.
After arriving to the church I thought it was in, pictured below and beautiful inside, with the help of two American tourists we finally found the entrance sign. After reading it through it said The Last Supper was not open on Mondays…it was Monday. Fail #5 for the day. At this point I was just laughing at fail after fail for planning.
As mentioned in the start of this post, I wasn’t thrilled to be spending a day of my three weeks in Milan, Italy. I had seen this coming somehow, all five fails.
I figured that the whole day sight seeing and touring around Milan, just wasn’t meant to be. With still two weeks left of my trip, I wanted to keep my head high and brush a sour day under the rug. I was looking forward to my last bowl of Pasta, by visiting a restaurant called Un’Altra Pasta.
When I arrived to the restaurant, it wasn’t pasta, it was a pizza place! Fail #6 of the day. At this point I was so tired and hungry. I stayed for the pizza which wasn’t even classic, but what I would refer to as hipster Italian pizza. It did the trick, and filled my belly.
By this time I was just done with the day, it was dark, I had picked up my larger bag before dinner, and lugging it around was a lot on my back. It was time to head to the train station. One thing I admire about Europe, is how they utilize the 24 hour clock. I know it’s a silly thing to appreciate, BUT why did someone even create the AM and PM options, if we had a system before.
Why am I telling you my thoughts on this? Well…living in North America I’m used to the AM and PM, so I headed to the train station thinking 23:00 was 10:00pm, and I only had about 2 hours to wait for my overnight train. I was wrong. But didn’t realize this until about 9:30pm, that I had another hour to go longer than I thought. The train was delayed, it wasn’t a surprise but, made me a nervous trying to make sure I got on the right train.
Milan is not my favourite (have I made this clear yet?). I felt there was lots to see in Milan, Italy. I suggest when planning a day be prepared for businesses to be closed during unexpected hours. I’d return to the city, but with someone who speaks Italian, or knows the secret hidden gems of the city. I will say the train station and overnight train was a hit, and well worth the experience. You’ll be able to read about it soon!
Steps for the day (according to my iPhone): 31, 978 | 20.4km | 46 floors
Next stop Paris! I spent 3 days in the city of LOVE, which included catching up with an old friend.