I've been fortunate enough to explore many parts of Italy, but for me, Milan's unique blend of commerce and culture is truly exceptional. Recently, after a busy week visiting showrooms and meeting with suppliers, by a stroke of luck, I had my connecting flight to London cancelled, granting me a weekend in this magnificent city without any work commitments.
Central Milan exudes an irresistible charm and sophistication, creating a captivating fusion of history, culture, and modernity. It encapsulates the very essence of this fashionable metropolis with its vibrant atmosphere and iconic landmarks. Dominating the city centre stands the awe-inspiring Milan Cathedral, also known as the Duomo. Its breathtaking Gothic architecture leaves a lasting impression, and the panoramic views from its rooftop are simply awe-inspiring. It also serves as the perfect landmark because of the relative lack of high-rise buildings. Adjacent to it is the elegant Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a historic shopping arcade adorned with exquisite boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
The renowned Pinacoteca di Brera houses an extraordinary collection of Italian Renaissance masterpieces, including works by revered artists such as Raphael and Caravaggio. Another gem is the magnificent Sforza Castle, an enchanting fortress that showcases an extensive art collection and captivating gardens. For a more contemporary art experience, I highly recommend visiting the Fondazione Prada or the Perelli HangarBicocca, both of which host excellent exhibitions. I would recommend booking in advance and checking opening hours, as they do close early in the week (especially Tuesdays).
The Fashion Quadrilateral, or Quadrilatero della Moda, is a mecca for fashion enthusiasts the world over. Although it may feel like work to wander through these streets adorned with high-end fashion, I couldn't resist indulging in a bit of retail therapy and immersing myself in the glamour that Milan is renowned for. No visit to this area would be complete without stopping by Marchesi for an espresso and a sweet treat to rejuvenate.
Central Milan boasts a vast array of trattorias and Michelin-starred restaurants. Personally, I relish the traditional Milanese dishes, particularly the creamy risotto alla Milanese and the succulent ossobuco, occasionally accompanied by various iterations of Campari. Given the hot summer weather, it's imperative to savour their artisanal gelato.
Wandering the streets and getting lost are part of any city visit, but one of the advantages of staying in Central Milan is a truly world-class Metro. The efficient and vaguely air-conditioned system allows for easy exploration of every corner of Milan and beyond, with connections to all major European cities from Stazione di Milano Centrale.
It was from here that I embarked to Lake Como. Nestled in the foothills of the Italian Alps, this stunning lake is a true gem of Northern Italy. The crystal-clear waters, surrounded by lush green mountains and charming lakeside towns, create a breathtaking backdrop that is hard to resist. I chose a leisurely ferry ride along the lake, exploring villages like Varenna and Bellagio. Luxurious villas and gardens line the lakeside. The train there was 6 euros and the ferry was 9 euros; everything ran on time (unlike my flights).
My fortuitous weekend stay in Central Milan proved to be a short and remarkable journey into the realm of Italian elegance. The neighbourhood's mix of tradition and modernity provided an unforgettable experience, leaving me with treasured memories of Milan's rich history, artistic heritage, fashion prowess, and culinary delights.