I'd never heard much about Milan but reading about heavy discounts on designer clothes, markets with vintage shoes and cheap flights from Amsterdam it felt natural to do a girls trip there. So last Friday Amanda and I jumped on a plane and headed toward Italy.
Unfortunately heavy discounts meant that instead of paying €4999 for an Armani (or; Dior, Gucci, Prada etc etc) dress you could pay just €1699 for it, and that vintage second hand items started at over €100. So there I was, shocked to find almost* everything was out of my budget.
Ok, so I wasn't going to shop on this trip but that wasn't the end of the world because Milan had so much more to offer.
Tea and cookies in Art Nouveau Heaven at Zucca in Galleria located in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II just opposite the Doumo, completely over priced at €4.80 for a cappuccino but the cookies are to die for and in combination with the setting the tea and cookie option at €6 is totally worth it.
Inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele ll
A quick hop over the Piazza Doumo to the Museo del Novecento (the Museum of the 20th Century) is well worth a visit, on display is contemporary Italian art and it hosts several works of Umberto Boccioni and surprisingly some work by Pablo Picasso. Entrance until the end of February 2011 is free.
Happy Hour in Navigli happy hour in Milan is unlike anywhere else I have seen, between about 6-10pm bars offer their take on the Italian aperitif (a glass of prosecco and some bar snacks before dinner) in the form of an all you can eat buffet with any drink/cocktail purchase (usually between €6-12), the buffet includes warm and cold snacks such as pizza, pasta, cured meats, cheeses, grilled and cured vegetables, salads, desserts… the list goes on and on and by the time you're done you're too stuffed for dinner anyway. The district of Navigli is a great area for Happy Hour, here canals are lined with some great bars and restaurants that all compete against each other when happy hour roles around, lavish buffets are on display in their windows. Guides will often advise you not to over indulge and state that treating the buffet's as a dinner is considered tasteless by the locals, however this does not seem to bother the locals we encountered who piled on the goodies and went for 3rd and 4th rounds themselves.
Stroll through Navigli back to Milans canal district Navigli during the day is also worth a visit, filled with art studios and galleries, vintage clothing and antique stores, well stocked book shops, outdoor markets and cozy cafe's it is a great place to take a walk, pick up a bargain and enjoy a coffee and croissant.
Gorgeous bag found in a second hand vintage shop and still completely out of my budget
Breakfast in Navigli
Climb the Doumo Milan's Doumo is an incredible cathedral made of marble, the Doumo is exceptionally detailed with 3,500 statues, sculptured stories told on it's brass doors by different artists and beautiful stained glass windows. The inside is so special that even an atheist like myself can marvel at what man's faith is capable of creating, but to really appreciate it's grandness pay €5 and climb to the roof (or €8 for the lift), the detail on the 135 spires is stunning when viewed from the top.
The Doumo, view from the top and sculptures on the doors.
On the top of the Doumo
Sample delicious handmade Mozzarella after climbing the Doumo treat yourself with a sundowner at Obika Mozzarella Bar. Located on the top of a lavish several story department store the restaurant has a gorgeous view of the Doumo spires and the sunset viewed here while enjoying a bottle of cool white wine was the highlight of my trip. Oh and the food is damn good too, Obika has a completely new restaurant concept and offers different types of mozzarella accompanied by delicious and fresh traditional Italian sides, yum!
Get cultured the Biblioteca Ambrosiana (WOW) is another of Milan's highlights, the library also houses a the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana (the Ambrosian Art Gallery) which displays some fantastic masterpieces including Raffael's "School of Athens" and works by Botticelli and Leonardo. The library section is also impressive with 30,000 manuscripts. My only wish is that we had more time so that I could really explore it, we did however see what we went to see and it was totally worth it, the current exhibit of Leonardo Da Vinci's The Codex Atlanticus, these sketches were mind boggling and seeing Leornardo doodles on the edges of the paper used for his designs was a great sight! We were lucky enough to get free entry that Sunday but the usual €15 entry would be totally worth it!
The Castello Sforzesco is also a must see, the caste has several museums within it's walls including an archeological and prehistoric museum it also has a great art collection which includes Michaelangelo's last sculpture the The Rondanini Pietà.
*almost everything, except for these babies at just €39.95 from OVS Industry