A few moments in Milan

Alzaia Naviglio Grande in Milan | Photo by Cristina Gottardi
Alzaia Naviglio Grande in Milan | Photo by Cristina Gottardi

A few moments in Milan

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

The Italian metropolis of Milan packs so much punch into one city it’s hard to know where to begin when planning a trip. There’s just so much to see and do! Not only is Milan one of four fashion capitals of the world, it is also the fifth most Michelin-starred city in the world. These two facts alone let you know that there’s some seriously good food being turned out and the shopping here will be nothing short of incredible. Add in the outstanding architecture and Milan just might steal your heart. Even if you only have minimal time here, be sure to make your few moments memorable!

Milan Cathedral | Photo by Boris Stroujko 

No trip to Milan is complete without visiting the cathedral. The cathedral is located in the heart of Milan, and construction started on this masterpiece in 1386. Surprisingly, it took until 1965 to complete! With its Italian Gothic style, the front of the cathedral is an elaborate work of art. It’s almost impossible to take in all of the details, considering there are 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles and 700 figures. Imagine being in charge of designing one of the biggest Catholic cathedrals in the world! Be sure to make the trek up to the top via the steps or an elevator for sweeping views of the city from this architectural giant. 

As with almost any European city worth its salt, you must visit the resident castle. In Milan, that castle originated in the 15th century and is known as Castello Sforzesco. One of the most defining features of the castle is the massive brick wall with towers that surrounds it. You can also see where the moat would have been. The central and most dominating tower, Torre del Filarete, has undergone many renovations and is a modern reconstruction. If you venture inside, you’ll be delighted to find seven museums that chronicle the city’s culture and civic history. Don’t miss out on seeing artwork by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. 

Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio | Photo by Joaquin Ossorio-Castillo 

Another incredible structure in the area is the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio. This church is one of the oldest in Milan. It was built by St. Ambrose from 379 - 386. Over the years it has undergone several reconstructions and renovations. The current facade style is Romanesque and was completed in the 12th century. The structure is somewhat unusual and features two red-brick bell towers that are not the same height. This basilica is of particular importance because St. Ambrose is the patron saint of Milan. His body is on display inside the basilica’s crypt. 

Since Milan is one of Italy’s most fashionable cities, don’t pass up an opportunity to at least window-shop in the area. You’ll see some incredible fashion pieces, especially at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This mall is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls and takes opulence to the next level. The mall is in the shape of a cross and features a glass ceiling. Inside you’ll find only high-end designers. 

For even more shopping fun, head to the “Golden Triangle,” which includes Via della Spiga, Via Sant’Andrea and Via Montenapoleone. Admire luxury Italian brands like Prada, Versace, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana as you wander up and down these fashionable streets. You’ll also find foreign luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel and so much more! Splurge on a statement piece or enjoy looking for free. 

After admiring all the beautiful architecture and doing a little shopping, you should probably consider some refreshments. From Michelin star restaurants to local trattorias, Milan has something for everyone’s tastes. Since there are so many Michelin star restaurants here, you might as well indulge. Enrico Bartolini al Mudec is the perfect place to experience haute cuisine. This three-star restaurant boasts a refined atmosphere, new flavors and food that is “perfectly encapsulating the Italian lifestyle.” 

Parmigiana di melanzane | Photo by Oleksandr Prokopenko 

If you want to enjoy an aperitivo, head to Fonderie Milanesi. Relax outside as you enjoy your specialty cocktail and some light Milanese food. There are plenty of drink options as well as vegetarian options for the food. For a full sit-down meal, make reservations at Dongiò. Here you’ll find Calabrian dishes like spaghettoni alla tamarro, which is pasta, tomato sauce and nduja sausage. If you’d prefer to stay away from meat, try the parmigiana di melanzane, which is similar to the eggplant parmesan dish in America. Prices here are pretty reasonable, so try one or even two different dishes! 

If you’re only able to steal a few moments of bliss in Milan, be sure to use them to the fullest! Admire the incredible architecture, visit one of the largest cathedrals in the world and eat some of the most incredible food. After all, isn’t Italian food known as some of the best in the world? Milan is full of incredible opportunities and just waiting for you to stop by. 


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