Most travel reviews I read about Milan always suggest to skip this city when you travel to Italy. Even a friend of mine (who used to live in Italy) wasn’t really fond of my idea to visit Milan. Simply because, rumor says, it has not much to offer, especially for a non business traveller, like me.
But, as someone who was once a milanisti (a loyal supporter of AC Milan football club), I feel like visiting Milan is an obligation, haha, and to be honest, I’ve put it in my bucket list since I was a kid. So, there I went. Spending three nights and two days in a city which famous for its fashion, while I, myself, is the most unfashionable person I know. Such an irony 😂.
I flew to Milan from Copenhagen Airport with EasyJet. It is one of the most famous budget airlines in Europe. Their prices are hard to beat indeed. Especially when you do advance booking. The hardest competitor is RyanAir, but many reviews said, EasyJet is better than RyanAir, and with the Easy Plus ticket (which is more expensive than the regular one but more convenient if you travel with kid) you have extra services which are quite nice such as speed boarding, reserved seat and extra cabin bag. The flight was nice and smooth and much better than I expected. I would love to fly with Easy Jet again for future trips (hello, save some money first, signora! 😁 )
We then landed in Malpensa airport, which is located around 50km from the city centre. Milan has three airports: Malpensa, Linete, and Orio or Bergamo. To get to the city center, we took Malpensa Express (the cost was €13 for adult and €6,5 for kid). It took around 50 minutes to get to Milano Centrale station. The train is new and clean (at least the one that we took 😁 ). It has storage for luggage as well so you don’t need to worry about space. And don’t worry either about the “lost in translation” moment. The train information is both in Italian and English. Benissimo!
Once we arrived in Milano Centrale, we tried to find the exit (and chose the wrong one 😆 ). So we decided to take a break for a while by having gelato then walked to the hotel. My first impression of Milan was crowded and hot, kinda remind me of Jakarta. But of course, I didn’t let the 37 degree temperature stop me from exploring the city. So, here are my version of Milan’s tips and tricks based on the things I managed to do and see when in Milan.
1. Going touristy in Duomo but beware of the scammers.
Duomo is in the first list of any brochure about Milan. This stunning gothic cathedral is the main icon of the city. This is the main landmark that makes your visit to Milan official. Haha. Its distinctive architecture and color are indeed very lovely and captivating. Claimed as the 3rd biggest cathedral in the world, Duomo is always full with tourist. Around Duomo, you can also find museums, galleries, restaurant and shopping centers. A perfect spot for one day visit.
However, beware of the scammers. Just like any other big cities in the world, Milan is dealing with typical urban problems such as beggar, pickpockets, and scammer. There are plenty of them and their modus operandi is varied. Giving things and ask money for return is the most common one. So, make sure you refuse all offers like flower, fruit, food for pigeon, and bracelet, unless you want to be followed around and will need to give money to shoo them away. I was being scammed too in Duomo. There was a man, greeted me in Arabic and asked where I’m from then give some corns to my kid. I thought he was just a nice guy at first, because he dressed well and looked like a tourist too. I know I shouldn’t judge someone by appearance, but he just doesn’t fit the stereotypes of scammers. Turned out, he was just after the money. Should have known better. ☹️
2. Come visit San Siro stadium, even if you don’t like football.
San Siro is the largest stadium in Italy and the home of AC Milan and Inter Milan, two most loved football clubs in the city. Also known as Giuseppe Meazza, the stadium has plenty to offer such as tour, museum and official merchandise store. Take the M5 metro line to get direct access to San Siro (this line’s final stop is right in front of the stadium). You can use single ticket or daily passes (such as 24 hours ticket or 48 hours ticket which are cheaper than single ticket) to travel by metro within Milan.
3. Gelato, gelato, gelato!
Who could resist the temptation of gelato in sunny days where the temperature reach 37 degree Celsius? Well, I couldn’t. So when I was in Milan, gelato is like a daily treat for me. Haha. And the good thing about Milan is you can buy gelato in any gelateria and they will all taste good. Just make sure you eat your gelato quickly as they melt before you know it because of the hot and humid weather. If you are a slow eater, I would recommend you to buy the cup one instead of cone. And, don’t forget to bring tissue and wipes by the way, you will surely need them 🙂
4. Pick up some Italian words.
Traveling to non English speaking countries is always challenging. Especially when it comes to language. I don’t speak Italian but I know some words and simple sentences. I learnt it from the “daily conversation in Italian” kind of books when I was in high school (as I said before, I was obsessed with football and Italy, so it’s understandable to have that books, right? Or was it just me being weird? 😆 ). At that time, I wondered when would I practice my Italian vocabularies such as: “Mi scusi, parla inglese?” “Come va? Io sono Hayu” “Molto bene, grazie” and so on. So, when I finally came to Italy, instead of being worried due to the chance of getting lost in translation, I found myself was so excited. And picking up some Italian words is actually quite helpful to deal with daily stuffs like ordering food, asking directions or at least starting a conversation. And most Italians are very happy too when they meet someone who speaks their language, even just for a little. They will treat us like a friend instead of tourist, which is a nice thing to experience in a new place.
5. Don’t go to bed early, come to Navigli.
The night is always young in this side of Milan. Packed with restaurants, gelateria, food stalls and shops, you surely don’t want to miss a night by the canal in Navigli. No need to rush to go to this area as it opens until midnight (or even morning for some). Instead, spend the day around Milan city centre then come to Navigli to have dinner. Buy a street food (or book a fine dining in a restaurant if you prefer something more fancy), have a seat and enjoy the music from the street musician. Life will feel sooooo good. La vita e bella.
At last, after experiencing Milan for few days, I must argue that Milan is still worth a visit (sorry, other travel reviews!). Well, it may not as fancy as Venice (another story about this Italian city will come soon!), but Milan definitely has its own charm. The charm that couldn’t be found in other cities. If you couldn’t find it on your visit before, well, maybe you haven’t been looking in the right place. 🙂