Milan: September 17′
Going to Milan wasn’t on my to go list for 2017, but as the saying goes opportunity knocked and I answered. That opportunity came about when a dear friend I hadn’t seen in years invited me over, just after my Italy solo trip. Being in a space where I was having Italy withdrawal symptoms, so much so I went to gelato spots in London and doused myself in my Carthusia perfume, so I could hold onto the Italy feels a little longer, I decided to get onto Skyscanner. The price was right and I accepted. As it happened another friend of ours was planning to head to Milan too, so we coordinated and booked.
The time came and off I went to Milan. I didn’t really plan anything to do during my stay, mainly because I knew my friend would have all the best tips and he was very willing to be my tour guide. The trip started off on a little bumpy ride as there was a storm and my plane was in it. The best thing to do in these situations is to distract yourself with something else. I think I must have been listening to a podcast, so I didn’t let panic take over. In the end we flew into a different airport then planned, which was a bit further away from the centre. Easyjet promised they would organise a bus to take us to central Milan, but after seeing no sign of that happening I knew better and just found a private bus operator. As it was after midnight I was very fortunate to get transport. Even more fortunate as I secured the last seat, on the last bus going into central Milan. This was one of those moments where I ignored the worst case scenario, stayed hopefully and things worked out. A lot of people from my flight never made that bus, and endured a hefty taxi fare most likely.
I was staying in the sourthen part of Milan, in an area called Pietrasanta. It was about a 20 minute tram ride into Central Milan and tickets can be purchased at any tobacco store. Pietrasanta is also home to one of Milan’s cultural hotspots, the Fondazione Prada, which I will touch on later.
My first day I met up with my lovely friend also visiting Milan right in front of the iconic Duomo. After taking selfies, we took a stroll down to look for somewhere to eat and he recommended an awesome pizza spot in the designer shopping haven, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, called Spontini. This isn’t the typical thin crust prosciutto Italian pizza, but instead it was a bouncy thick crust, crispy at the bottom top with ham, ham. I felt like I was devouring at least a 1000 calories with one slice, but it was so worth it. Very indulgent, and a must in Milan. We also paid a visit to Marchesi 1824, a patisserie acquired by Prada and at the top of the their Men’s store, also in the Gallerie Vittorio Emanuele. The decor is opulent and a good spot for an insta worth photo. We took our photo’s and downed our espresso’s and headed out to explore more. The great thing about my travel companion was that we were happy to split up and do our on thing, so whilst he headed off for his second lunch rendezvous, I made my way to Museo del Novecento, a modern art museum next to the Duomo. It was 5 euros to enter which was very affordable considering they housed an extensive collection, including many Picasso’s that had me absorbed for about an hour and a half.
Later I met back up with my friend and we strolled round Central Milan through many gardens, courtyards and eventually to the roof terrace on top of Treinale Milano, the design museum, for an aperitif. Aperitif is an imperative part of Italian culture, which is an alcoholic drink taken before dinner to stimulate the appetite. I don’t know that I need help stimulating my appetite but a cocktail on a rooftop at sun-fall is a great way to spend your afternoon.
Later we met up with our Milanese friend, the one I was staying with, and had our second aperitif, catching up and reminiscing about old times. It was a great first day in Milan with perfect weather, doing things at the right pace, in the company with dear old friends. It ended up with a thrilling ride back to my residence on the back of a Vespa. Well, it was a motorbike of some sort so I’m going to say it was a Vespa as I was in Italy. We had dinner in, and made our way to meet people for more drinks .
The second day in Milan was a full on tour of the city with my Milanese friend. We walked all about central Milan, window shopping in spots like Acne and Le Labo, stopping to have espressos, and taking in the city as we went along.
Here is a summary of places that stood out to me:
Orto Botanico di Brera – Lots of pretty plants and relaxing place to take a minute to be grateful for your trip
Bosco Verticale – The vertical forest is a world renowned high-rise that is an architectural masterpiece. If I’m ever fortunate enough to live in Milan that would certainly be an option.
The botanical club bar – We went here trying to escape the downpour. The decor is botanical luxe and they stocked an extensive collection of gin. I feel this place embodied me as a person. Checkout their swanky website too.
Caffe Napoli – Awesome selection of bespoke espressos, like tiramisu flavour.
Design Republic – Great modern decor store.
The downpour continued into Sunday. But that was okay because we were heading to the Fondazione Prada to get lost in the museum. Without a doubt this is an essential place to visit in Milan, if not only to see Bar Luce, their cafe designed by film director Wes Anderson. It was quintessential Anderson retro vibes with pastels and mahogany finishes, and is a great spot to take the perfect grammable shot. The museum has so many exhibitions on and the look and feel is curated down to the toilets. My highlights included seeing the Grace Jones Slave to the Rhythm film in the Jean Paul Goude exhibition.
After our 3 hour museum trip (it is huge, with a lot to see), we headed back into central Milan to stroll around window shopping (again) and back to Marchesi 1824. I’m sure everyone is aware of this but Milan is a great city to get your spending on, whether it be in the high street and in the high end stores, as a lot of big brands were born here, a lá Prada. The rest of the evening was spent chowing down on chinese at Wang Jiao in Chinatown, which was a good choice.
Monday was my final full day in Milan and how else to start the week off than heading to Lake Como for the day. I mean is that living your best life or is that living your best life? Myself and my friend also visiting Milan, headed there as it sits north of Milan and is about an hour on the train. Having underestimated timings I missed the train we planned to go on, but it was okay, it just meant we had less time there (the consequences of a tardy life). The central station can be a bit overwhelming, so take your time and make sure you understand which ticket you purchased and what train to get on, as you could end up in Germany. Most of the staff don’t speak English, so using your wits is a must. Breakfast at Bistrot Milan Centro is great as there is so much choice and the pastries are molte bene!
Again I knew I would have a lot to photograph in Como, well mainly the lake, but I didn’t really plan much else to do. I thought I might bump into Amal and George, can’t be sure that I didn’t. Either way it was quick day trip into Como as we arrived about lunch time and had to get the last train back just after 5pm. So we really only had enough time to head to the lake. It was very serene as you would expect and a little overcast. I was thinking we could take a hike or something adventurous that would give us a view from above and my friend was thinking it was Prosecco o’clock. Prosecco o’clock made more sense as the sun came out and the perfect way to take in the view of the lake was to have a glass of prosecco in one hand and your iPhone in the other snapping pictures.
As you can imagine with all the Prosecco things got a little hazy. We eventually wondered into the small town centre, stopping off at a Pharmacy. I brought a lifetime supply of Nesti Dante bar soap, my absolute favourite and struggle to go without. Their scents are named after Italian cities, so any new bar I open I feel like I’m experiencing a bit of Italy in my shower. We strolled around very merrily outside the Duomo (Cathedral) Como and finished the trip with gelato of course. I would of course come back to Como, but I wonder if Lake Garda will be more impressive. My feeling is that whichever place, being on a boat in a lake will up the ante.
We made it back to the station, then to Milan and had our farewell drinks with our Italian pals in this Kitshe rustic bar called MAM Milano Amore Mio.
Having a whirlwind tour around Milan put my faith in more city destinations. Being from London I always have this urge to take a trip to somewhere more relaxing and by the water, especially in Italy. But there was so much to see and is a great city to get lost in. It would be fun to go back during Milan fashion week as fashion and style is celebrated there and nothing seems too over the top, which I celebrate.
Have you been to Milan or Lake Como? If so comment below how it was for you? And if you haven’t been I hope I have inspired you to add this destination to you must go list.