While Milan is known as the economic center of Italy, and the fashion capital of the world, there is so much more to the beautiful city in the north of Italy. I visited Milan as a stopover* on my way to Dubai – a magnificent 2-for-1 opportunity to see two cities for the price of one on the same flight! To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes or expectations – I was simply excited to see another European city (I’ve been to Paris and London). To my surprise, the few days I spent in Milan turned out to be filled with great food and even better romance 😀 Feel free to watch the video, which includes a thorough recap asome photos, but there are also many more photos in the post so enjoy!
*For anyone who doesn’t know, a stopover is essentially an extended layover, where you can leave the airport and return to continue your flight itinerary.
Monday: Arrival & Garibaldi
After navigating our way out of the airport and struggling to buy train tickets because most signs were in Italian, we settled into our AirBnB in Cenisio. There isn’t much to do in the neighborhood (they just built metro lines servicing the town in June 2015), but our space was wonderful, convenient enough to the train, and had an amazing bathroom! Once we dropped our luggage, we headed out to Porta Garibaldi, an area that was lively as the train station is one of the most popular in Milan. We stopped by Eataly, an Italian grocery story and restaurant, and Piazza Gae Aulenti, which was a beautiful and modern square with stores like Nike, a concert hall, and a water fountain. I noticed that even though there were a lot of tall apartment buildings, they were all filled with plants and greenery, making them look like huge moss covered buildings! I think it was cool that there was a commitment to maintain the “green” lifestyle even though people were living in high rises.
After walking around, we ended up at a row of restaurants on a cobblestone lined street called Corso Como. We ate at Pizzeria Rocking House, and had an appetizer of pizza, and a main course of pasta. Portions were large and shareable, so I see why Italians love family style eating! It was just enough food to knock us out for the night.
Tuesday: Duomo, Galleria, and the Happiest Day of My Life!
There’s no other word I can use to describe Tuesday, September 8 besides magical! Our day started off with a visit to the Duomo di Milano, Milan’s Cathedral that is the 5th largest church in the world. It is truly a historic artifact, with building beginning in the 14th century. Even though I’m not Catholic, I have a personal relationship with God so it was a moment to enjoy His presence in a house of worship, and also reflect on the shared adoration that people have had for centuries that inspired them to build such an amazing church!
After the Duomo, we went to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, also known as the Seven Stars Galleria, since it houses the first seven star hotel in the world. The Galleria It’s one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, having been built in the 19th century. Today it contains many luxury stores like Prada and Louis Vuitton, which help to anchor the neighborhood as the fashion district.
Feeling a bit too touristy, we left Central Milan for Porta Genova, whose train station is the oldest in Milan. The area is pretty artsy, with a lot of tattoo shops and street art along the winding canals, and we visited a farmer’s market called the Mercato Metropolitano. This area was developed this year to support the Expo, and it was pretty quiet during the week, but we were able to sample authentic and homemade ravioli, served with complimentary prosecco! It was obvious that the market would have been particularly active during the weekends, with numerous stalls available for local food industry workers to sell their produce, specialty goods, or food.
We came back to our AirBnB to rest up for what would become an exciting night 😀 We headed back out to Porta Genova, for dinner at the Da Noi In at Magna Pars Hotel Suites. After lots of wine and champagne, a delicious 3-course meal, and sweet lovey talk, Bae asked me to marry him and I said yes! I especially liked the privacy of our moment – because I’m such a public person, I appreciated that it was an experience that only he and I share. The only downside is that we don’t have great photos from the night (side eye to the struggling maitre d’ who had sub par iPhone photography skills), but the memories will last a lifetime!
Wednesday: World Expo and James Beard American Restaurant
On Wednesday morning, we left Cenisio to check into the Residence Aramis Milano Downtown, which you can learn more about here. After transferring our things, we trekked out to Rho Fiera for the World Expo. I would recommend getting to the Expo site 30 minutes before it opens, because the crowds are crazy. Because we were still excited from the night before, we didn’t end up getting to Expo until around 11, meaning that we then had to spend about 30 minutes in the security lines to enter the site, and then almost an hour standing in line at different pavilions. Don’t do what we did! It’s hard to describe all the different pavilions, but essentially, different countries chose to highlight their food and agricultural history, as well as their innovations in sustainable development and agriculture. We actually didn’t eat much food from other countries, there were just too many gelato, panini, and pizza options that we couldn’t get enough!
The next world Expo is going to be in 2020 in Dubai, so save your coins now so you can also experience one of the biggest events in the world!
As a continuation of the Expo, we headed back to our residence to change for dinner at the James Beard American Restaurant in Milan. I have a pretty comprehensive recap of our dinner there with Chef Norman Van Aken, so be sure to check that out as well!
After dinner on Wednesday, we went for some post-dinner drinks at Duomo 21, and took more photos with the beautiful background of the Duomo! I really felt like I was living in a movie – the view, combined with all the love was almost too real!
One thing which we didn’t get to do that I was bummed about was visit Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Since I tried not to micro-plan the whole trip, I didn’t realize that tickets had to be booked in advance to see the painting. I highly recommend planning ahead for this so you can see the iconic painting in real life!