- 30 May 19
With wonderful cultural attractions and vibrant nightlife, fashion capital Milan is a must-visit.
Where is it exactly?
The important metropolis of northern Italy, Milan is located in at the foothills of the Alpine mountains, making for quite a view! Besides Rome, it is the most populated city in Italy and is the country's fashion capital - so leave the trackies at home.
Why should I go?
Milan is booming with culture, both modern and old, including architecture, visual art, fashion and performing arts. It's also a tad underrated compared to the likes of Venice, Florence and Rome - so you're less likely to be swamped by other tourists.
What are the most touristy things to do?
First on your list should be to see the astronomical Duomo di Milano, which took almost six centuries to complete! The cathedral really is an astonishing sight. Given the number of the statues that decorate the exterior, one could spend well over an hour drinking in its beauty. Inside, the detailed stained glass windows are brilliant - and the rooftop tour give you an amazing view of the city.
Right across from Duomi di Milano is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the original shopping mall. Live your royal dynastic fantasy as you window-shop the likes of Prada, Chanel and Gucci, located inside this extravagant 18th century work of architecture. It's so much more than a mall, with high-end restaurants and a luxury hotel also in the mix. Oh, watch out for the bull!
Also, don't miss Leonardo Da Vinci's second most iconic painting, The Last Supper, which is tucked away in the dining hall of a monastery, Santa Maria delle Grazie. It's a fine setting in which to enjoy this historic artwork.
Where can I eat and drink?
Milan sees a lot of inward mmigration from other parts of Italy - and indeed from the rest of the world! - so the food here is suitably varied and cosmopolitan. You certainly won't be stuck for food that takes your fancy. Being in the North of Italy, the local cuisine leans slightly more towards Germanic influences than the familiar Italian dishes like pasta and pizza. But the food is delicious. Why not try a risotto in Trattoria da Abele (Via Temperanza, trattoriadaabele.it/) or Ratan (Via Gaetano de Castillia, ratana.it/) in Isolo.
The Minestroni de Milano is a must - the traditional pasta is replaced with rice grown in the Lombardy region, where Milan is situated. Trattoria Mirta just outside Loreto does an excellent and wonderfully tasty version.
Remember that Milan is one of the most expensive cities in Europe, and be careful how and where you spend your money - the price of one alcoholic drink can often reach double digits. Look out for 'Aperitivo', the Italian version of Happy Hour, during which many places in Milan will have 'all you can eat' buffets including a free drink - yes that includes one from the cocktail menu! - for €10.
What's the nightlife like?
Again, alcohol is very expensive, so be prepared to have a pre-drink if you're on a budget. Hollywood (Corso Como, 15, 20154, discotecahollywood.com/en/) is a great spot for tourists, open every night of the week. Gattopardo Café (Via Piero della Francesca, 47, 20154, ilgattopardocafe.it/) is an old church converted into a club, with a chandelier in the centre making for a fun atmosphere. Nights out in Milan usually start later than in Ireland, and end a lot later too, with many clubs open until 6am.
How do I get there?
Both Aer Lingus and Ryanair have flights to Milan - the journey is a comfy two-and-a-half hours and one-way tickets are usually around €100. There is no real difficulty getting into the city quickly from any of the three airports.
What's the transport like?
Milan has an abundance of metro lines, trams, trains and buses that usually run until late into the night. For an expensive city, the transport is relatively cheap, with a 48-hour travel pass covering all public transport costing only €8.25. You will not be left stranded anywhere.
Where can I find good coffee?
Italy is a nation of coffee lovers and Milan is no different. Coffee can be found at the end of almost every street and is almost always priced €1. However, for the uniniated, these are traditional Italian espressos (Great stuff! - Sub Ed), made to be gulped down in haste at the 'bar' (the term for cafés in Milan). If you prefer a hazelnut spiced mocha with cream on top, your best bet might be the recently opened Reserve Roastery Starbucks - the first and only Starbucks in Italy. Then again, maybe not!
When should I go?
The best time is probably in the mild spring and autumn months. Because of its location near the Alps, Milan is quite chilly in the winter, and because there's quite a bit of walking to be done, the sweltering heat of summer should be avoided.
Milan is the fashion capital of Italy, so it makes the ideal place for people-watching. Sit down anywhere and relish the sight of some of Europe's premier fashionistas promenading. Enjoy!