I must say that the merely outspoken word – Milan – has one getting all dressed up for the show, way even before arriving here. You might agree, or you may just as well not, but thinking of Milan, has any man excited with the thought of upscale fashion and pret a porter experiences. However, it takes a certain kind of demeanour that goes with such thoughts. And I am, maybe, the biggest fool for dreams and false illusions there can be…so, naturally, I quickly figured it out that the experiences I had imagined for myself in Milan were stupendously childish. There are many people, I included, that find it hard to make a difference between sheer hoping and reality. There is this breed of bottomless romantics, that never get exhausted of hallucinating over pipe dreams and virtual realities. I mean, if you think you take your high heeled, knee high boots on a stroll through Milan, and actually get to see something, you are damn well wrong. If you even conceive of gussy up attitudes that go with the Duomo Cathedral in the background…you may just as well take up that extra shift at work. Because, there is only one place that a 16 euro Wizz Air ticket and a reasonable Milan accommodation will get you and that is the brassy, brazen side of Milan. So now that we’re out of the perfect, consummate story that bluntly uses insta-grammar to fashion out the aristocratic dream of common people…let’s get to the real deal behind this Milan story. As much as I would have appreciated a bed of roses, Champaign, balloons and a limousine at my arrival in Milan, what I actually got was farm markets and trams. I would have never imagined Milan had these many farm markets…we must have passed at least a few on our way to the Canals. And, oh man, how I fantasised about glittery, pink sunbeams to beautify my photography…What I got in return, though? The industrialised shades of brick, metal and glass that gave no promises of up-marketing my Instagram account. And, really, no buckets of flowers at every doorstep…well, this is just about the moment the Pollyanna in me turned into Cassandra. So why would you ever spend three out of your four days of vacation per year to visit Milan? Well, for the kosher, bona fide experience. For the un-fabricated reasons for which you should actually spend your backbreakingly earned free time in Milan.
Reason #1: Navigli Canals
The Navigli District makes for this boutique little area that speaks more of Venice than of Milan. There are countless restaurants and galleries along the Canals that ooze out the bohemian in this city. Because of the quiet and stillness, most Milanese people come here to jog, row or enjoy their bicycle rides. Believed to have been renovated with the help of Leonardo Da Vinci himself, and used as a waterway for transporting marble to build up the Duomo Cathedral, the Navigli Canals are maybe one of the most historic areas in Milan.
Reason #2: The Panini
If you ever get to Milan, you have to try out the Panini. Panini stands for a grilled sandwich made from bread, and it is commonly filled with a variety of ingredients including mortadella, mozzarella, various types of ham, salami and fresh vegetables. The best Panini you will find in the most crowded eateries, so be sure to be on the lookout for people standing in line outside of a restaurant to get theirs.
Reason #3: Arco della Pace
There are three things you most certainly will not miss on your way to the Duomo in Milan: the Arco della Pace, the Sempione Park and Castello Sforzesco. As long as you are going there, and you are going there for sure, take some time to see the Arco della Pace. I actually didn’t realise that it was indeed a good place to take an awesome picture until they said so on the Travel Channel. Now that I think of it, there really weren’t any people cramming up to visit this particular monument. So I do agree that it is a good place to take an amazing picture without getting a weird snapshot of others cramming in like they are family.
Reason #4: Castello Sforzesco
Castello Sforzesco seemed to me like more of a traversing point towards the Duomo, but nevertheless, it is beautiful. The Castle links the Sempione Park to the City Center while enabling you to do some awesome sightseeing in the meantime.
Reason #5: The Duomo
Oh, well…The Duomo…I didn’t know this…but it is actually the fifth largest cathedral in Europe…and yes…it is absolutely astounding. It is so breathtaking that you immediately feel like taking a picture…you and…another gazillion people…When we arrived in the Piazza del Duomo it was sooooo crowded it was actually impossible to take a decent picture. I practically drove my boyfriend mad just to take some decent ones that I could use on my blog. The one thing you have to do though is: find the Terrassa Aperol and get your Aperol Spritz…or two…to both relieve the stress that comes with the crowds and get an incredible view of the Piazza.
Reason #6: Galeria Vittorio Emmanuelle
Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle in Milan is, actually…well shocking…the oldest shopping mall in the world. The architecture and design are undoubtedly unique. Most certainly, it will be packed with people, but it is worth the window shopping…’cause…well…my wallet does not agree with Versace…even if my life depended on it…
Reason #7: Giardini Pubblici Intro Montanelli
Must admit this was one of my favourite places in Milan…such a breather from all the street swarms and the crowds. The Giardini Pubblici Intro Montanelli is the right spot to over-indulge yourself with stillness and calm.
Reason #8: Milano Centro
The best thing about Milan is that it blends in old and modern architecture like no other city does. Milano Centro has this posh look about it…vintage and lush with a cherry on top.
Reason #9: The ice cream
Well…I refuse to expand on this….:)
Reason #10: The Orange ATM 1500 Tram
We never get to see trams around the city where we come from. So it makes it all the more interesting to see trams everywhere in Milan. The Orange ATM 1500 Trams are the oldest and their unique vintage look often drags tourists in the middle of the street trying to photograph these babies. As I wouldn’t ever encourage anyone to commit suicide for likes on a photo, I will disclose the fact that the best place to photograph a tram without risking injury is the city centre. Milano Centro is the epicentre of all trams and it will provide you with every opportunity to photograph one.
So this is it…This is Milan outside of Fashion Week…And maybe the most important reason why you should actually spend your backbreakingly earned free time in Milan: the sheer beauty of all that this city is outside of Fashion Week. And, yes…maybe the next time when you search for me in Milan I will be up for a lesson on fashion. Until then. however…I’ll stick to the road ruggedness, the industrial suburbs, the street art and…the Aperol Spritz…of course…So cheers, guys! And bottoms up!