Hello, my dear friends! Long time no “see”, I took a much longer than expected break from blogging but I am back in full force! ^^ So I wasn’t expecting to go back to Italy so soon but fate presented itself to me, I have to take it! As part of my fashion week adventure, I went to Milan for the first time, it was a super busy, action-paced week but my friend and I had a blast. Before I nose-dive into fashion matters, I want to share with you my first impression of Milan, and if you only have a day in the city, where and how I’d recommend you to spend it.
Unlike other cities we’ve visited during our family trip this summer, Milan struck me as a city for none-tourist tourists. That might sound conflicting, but what I meant is Milan is for living, enjoying the fine things in life instead of immersing oneself in arts and history. Milan has plenty of that but that is not the best Milan has to offer.
If you have only 24 hours to spend in Milan, I’d recommend spending equal amount of time between sight-seeing and enjoying its life style. I summed up my personal experiences of the week I spent, and here is a sample itinerary I came up with. Shall we get started?
8:00 Breakfast at the Duomo
Early birds get…less crowd! Though not the top city for tourists in Italy, Milan still get a huge tourist crowd, especially at the top attractions. The best way to beat the crowd is getting up early, like 8AM. I’d begin the day at the Piazza de Duomo (metro stop Duomo). Grab a typical Italian breakfast, coffee & pastry, at the Mondadori bookstore cafe to the right of the Duomo, it costs less than $4.
8:30 Photo-op inside Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
This landmark of Milan is basically two crossing pedestrian-only street blocks with roof. The facade and ceiling are so grand, it is one of the most-photographed site. Snap a few pictures at any one of the entrance, and check out the mosaic floor while you are in it, the tile work is stunning. One of them get special attention from all the tourists, is the bull facing the northeast entrance. Legend says that it brings luck to put your foot on the attributes of the bull and complete a full circle with eyes closed, so no surprise you will see many lined up there to do so. If you are there to attempt the spin, it makes the cutest Boomerang.
9:00 Duomo rooftop tour
You can visit Milan for one day and skip the Duomo, but you can skip part of it to save time. The best practice is to make online reservations in advance and then pick up your tickets at the ticket office (located outside of the Duomo on the right hand side) when the door opens at 9am. Dash to the elevator line (located at the back side of the Duomo on the left), get up there and enjoy the view. There are two levels of view points, one is right off the elevator, the terrace where you can see the all the architecture beauty of the Duomo, the other is on the rooftop (accessible at the very end of the terrace via a narrow staircase), where you get the bird’s eye view of Milan.
10:00 Streetcar/Tram ride to vintage shopping
The fact that fashion week happens in Milan tells us something about this city and style. Milan offers some of the best designer shopping in both current season and vintage. Although we didn’t have the time to do so, I highly recommend spend the morning browsing some of the famed vintage shops in Milan. The best shopping in Milan, a.k.a. Quadrilatero d’Oro, is all within reasonable walking distance (10-15 minutes) of the Duomo, but if you’d like a little extra whimsy, I’d recommend catching a tram (old-fahsioned street car like the ones in San Francisco) and hop off around Cairoli and start the browsing on foot. In that area, you will find several great shops that are known for their eclectic collection of vintage designer fashion ranging from clothing to handbags, including Madame Pauline, Vintage 55 and Cavalli e Nastri.
13:00 Lunch break with a view
Shopping is definitely a cardio, even when you just browse. Continue on via dell’Orso where vintage mecca Cavalli e Nastr is located, you will hit via Senato as a main cross-road. Make a right on this bustling street, the Armani Hotel is just three blocks away on Via Alessandro Manzoni. The Bamboo Bar & Restaurant offer a panoramic view of the city, a very pleasant sight while enjoying a delicious light lunch in a posh, quiet setting.
Another great lunch spot, if you’d prefer a more intimate setting with great people watching, two streets down from Armani Hotel, is Salumaio di Montenapoleone. Set in a historical courtyard, the outdoor dinning here is just exquisite. Reservations are highly recommended.
I want pause here and talk a little about food in Milan. Over the week, we had about one formal meal each day at a different restaurant. While my friend sampled pizza and pasta, I ordered meatballs, soup, veal chops and salads. The reviews are all positive, so I’d say, order whatever you like. Salads are super fresh and tasty even thought they are pretty basic compared to the ones you see in some US cities.
15:00 More shops & neighborhood browsing
Now are you are the heart of high-end designer boutiques, there is no reason not to look around. Beside the Gucci flagship store where you can customize your Dionysus bag, the side streets are super lovely and makes perfect backdrop for a little Milan street style. One other thing I noticed about Milan, is that most flowers are sold at flower stands like news stands, they only open for a few hours during the day. I’d get a bouquet and enjoy it throughout the day, because not only they make you feel great, they also make your pictures look better. 😀
18:00 Sunset dinner overlooking the Duomo
Follow the tram line along via Alessandro Manzoni, you will be back to the Duomo in less than 15 minutes walk. Stunning golden hour view here at the Piazza Duomo. If you are hungry again, go up the top floor or department store La Renascente (entrance on the side), you can get an outdoor seating at the Miao Restaurant for a beautiful sunset dinner looking at the Duomo. The gourmet food shop of the department store is also a great place to pick up some Milan souvenir.
21:00 Music, drinks and mingle
Milan is great for the young and restless. Restaurants don’t normally open for dinner until after 7 and open pass mid-night. The one above opens all day because it is part of a department store. We went to a hip piazza restaurant and bar Dry, it has great thin crust pizza, amazing baby caesar salad, and awesome house music. We also spotted quite a few fashion elite there since it was fashion week after all. ;D
A note on public transportation in Milan: we took taxi to most places but you really don’t need them if you stay within the city center. You have to go to a taxi stand (usually marked on the street and with signage) to wait for one but we did try to stop them wherever and usually successful. Most taxi ride we had was within 10-15 euros per trip. Uber is super expensive and take extra time to locate in Milan, so I’d avoid using them as much as possible. The subway and tram system is pretty user-friendly according to some, I can’t vouch for that though.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you find this post interesting and helpful. Would love you hear your Milan experiences if you care to share in comments below. See you in my next post, very soon!
Caroline Constas blouse;
Marissa Webb leather pants <suede version>;;
Magda Butrym printed dress <also here & here>;
Saint Laurent over-the-knee boots <black version>;
Dior beret & slingback pumps <similar>;