Last year one of my favourite teachers, Robert Fergusson, gave me a book for asking what he considered a good question in class. The book was all about Italy and as he handed it to me he asked: Have you ever been? I said no! He said – Choose a date and go. I said ok!
When Robert Ferguson tells you to do something, you do it! When Robert Ferguson tells you to go to Italy, you definitely do it.
Fast forward a few months later, on the 31st of Jan, my husband and I find ourselves late night packing for a three day trip to Milan, a place known as a global capital for fashion and design, located in the country that gave us pizza and pasta!
The first two days were spent in Milano and on the third, we took a train out to Lake Como as the book recommended it! And we were not disappointed by either Milan or Lake Como.
I was fortunate enough to get some food recommendations from a friend who lived in Milan for a few months so we were guided to some awesome places that made our taste buds break out in praise!
Here are some places we visited while in Milan:
- Duomo Di Milani. Located in the centre of Milan, it is the most impressive structure in the city. It is a gothic cathedral and it’s three times older than Australia.
- Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II. This is an amazing indoor shopping centre for clothes a lot of people wish to buy but only few can afford (think Prada, Gucci etc). The architecture is stunning and you can also stop and have a bite to eat and a coffee as there are plenty of restaurants around.
- Castello Sforzesco. A beautiful castle from the 14th century which now houses a lot of museums and art galleries.
- Parco Sempione. I would call this the Hyde Park of London. However, it felt kinda dodgy at times as there were lots of people trying to sell you selfie sticks and strange bracelets. Maybe walk in the park during the day – just to be on the safe side of things.
- Arco dela Pace. A very impressive triumphal arc that was built at the request of Napoleon. Worth seeing and also the surrounding architecture is stunning if you venture down the streets in that area.
- Milano Centrale. This is the train station we arrived at from the Airport. It is the most pompous stations I have ever been to. They started building it in 1906, but it got delayed by the WWI and so the plans were revised under Mussolini who wanted the station to make people feel small. It genuinely makes you feel tiny! Worth going in for a look even if you are not jumping on a train!
- Laco Di Como. Early in the morning, we took a tour of the lake with a ferry and it was stunning. We were able to see the snow capped mountains and also fishermen who were sat in their boats enjoying the tranquillity of the lake. We wanted to go to Bellagio but because it was a Saturday the ferries weren’t running very often and so it was not possible for us to go as we didn’t want to miss our flight later that night.
- Como. We spent about two hours walking around Como and it gave us a glimpse of what an Italian city feels like with not too many tourists around. Here’s where I was told off by an Italian grandma for touching a tomato so that was fun!
Here are some places we would recommend you go and eat at if ever in Milan:
- Go to Gino Sorbillio for really good pizza! The menu is all in Italian, that was quite intimidating. But we asked our waiter for some recommendations, and so we chose a spicy salami pizza and it was the best pizza we had in Milan so definitely go check it out!
- La Tradizionale. This is what I would call good Italian food with no fuss. This is not the most Instagramable place but, the food and the service were amazing. I had the Risotto Milanese – something you might want to try when in Milan as it is a type risotto specific to Milan.
- Go to LuBar for amazing Arancini! Arancini is a ball of fried rice! What’s there not to like? I had the shrimp and pistachio arancini and my husband had the ragu arancini! Both amazing!!! Best €4 I have ever spent!
- Casa Infante – This was right outside of our apartment and it was seriously good Gelato. We had 3 huge scoops for €3.40. And our only regret from the trip is that we didn’t have more gelato!
Here’s what we noticed about the people of Milan
The people in Milan like their buildings colourful.
They are fashion-conscious. From young women to old men they all seem to take so much pride in their appearance and it’s so beautiful to watch!
They wear a lot more make up than people from say Sydney or the Netherlands. A smokey eye or a red lip were common!
They will show appreciation for your bad Italian – they will like that at least you tried and if you are curious about things they will share some knowledge around the language.
They are friendly (but not as they are often portrayed in movies). They are the kinda friendly people that recommend a good cake and a good tea and then smile and leave you to enjoy it and don’t hang around too much making it awkward for everyone!
They are generous! On our first evening, we went by the Navigli River (La Tradizionale) to have dinner. We were welcomed by an amazing old man, who then began to shower us with so many freebies like champagne, olives, bread, and meloncino. He was seriously invested in us experiencing the Italian cuisine – and we were in awe of their generosity!
They love to smoke! Everywhere you go there is people smoking and it’s intense!
They drink their coffee standing. This is something I was in awe of from the moment I noticed it. Because it was so cold we were always finding shelter in coffee shops. Don’t be surprised if you see Italians come in the coffee shop, order a small coffee, and stand by the counter while they quickly drink it and then go on their way! This was so different from the British culture that loves to linger around a good cup of tea or coffee.
They don’t really do breakfast. If you go in a coffee shop at 10 am your options are a pastry and a drink, and that’s about it!
We didn’t really post about it on social media, hardly told anyone that we were going – and it felt like it was our own little secret. It was the most amazing birthday weekend and if you ever have a chance to go to Milan, I so encourage you to take it as it is a beautiful place filled with beautiful people and beautiful food.