Milan, the second largest city in Italy with more than 1,2 million inhabitants, is a bubbling metropolis and of course a fashion and design hotspot, maybe the most important in Europe. Its most famous building is probably the iconic cathedral Il Duomo, placed exactly in the city’s midpoint. It’s church with an almost ridiculous amount of spires and towers, statues and reliefs.
Our visit to Milan is a rather hasty one, so we spend most of our time around the Cathedral and the square facing it, the Piazza del Duomo. This is a hangout for Milans and tourists alike, it’s always crowded. In daytime it’s also the playground and grub joint for some 300 pigeons.
We stay in a hotel on Via Torino ca one kilometer south-west from Duomo, but there’s a tram right by the door, and it’s just a five minute ride to the Piazza. Once you’re there you’re dazzled by the magnificent buildings, the cathedral and its neighbour the grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, that looks like a castle with an impressive cupola on top.
We can’t enter Duomo this time, the queues are too long. But we cruise the Galleria from bottom to top. Four aisles meet right under the cupola, and that’s where the most exclusive shops lie, like Versace, Louis Vuitton and Prada.
But the Galeria also holds a number of bars, restaurants and coffee houses . We dive into one just for a drink, and order prosecco which when it arrives is accompanied by lots of different yummy snacks. So we lose some of the most severe hunger. And thirst, of course.
The top is a different stor(e)y. Via a back alley you can enter an elevator that takes you up to the roof of the Galleria. There are walkways so you can do a round and catch breathtaking birds-eye views of the city. Recommended!
Two blocks away from the Piaza del Duomo lies that legendary opera stage La Scala, though it’s actually not so impressive on the outside. On the square, Piazza della Scala there’s a statue of the artist and inventor Leonardo daVinci, and right by it a Leonardo museum. They have a few paintings on display, but the real treat here is an exhibition of all Leonardo’s flying machines, as models constructed from his drawings. You can really feel his urge for man conquering the air!
For the fashionista the Piazza del Duomo is a good starting point. You’ll find most of the big (and the smaller) fashion houses within the so called el Quadrilatero, the area inside a rectangle formed by Via Monte Napoleone, Via Gesú, Via Senato and Corso Venetia. Just two steps from the Duomo. But bring the big wallet.
V AND ME AS FASHIONISTAS
When it comes to dining we sadly haven’t had time to prepare properly, so food is not always what we had hoped for. But one evening, walking by one of the canals dug out in the city centre, we stumbled across Il Principe dei Navigli, A very nice and friendly trattoria with excellent food and wine. Note that in a city like Milan you absolutely need to reserve a table in good time, especially with popular restaurants.
On our second and last day in Milan we walk up to an area called Brera, north of Duomo. Brera is a quiet and bohemian part of the city, a nice break from the hectic shopping malls. We walk along Via Brera and pass a small botanical garden where everything is still in winter’s sleep, only some persimon fruit shine like stop lights. Further north we pass the art gallery Pinacoteca di Brera. And beyond that a couple of very nice trattorias with outdoor seating. We chose the Jamaica for a light lunch and feel satisfied with what Milan has showed us so far. It’s just a fragment of the possibilities in this megacity of course. But next time!