Truth be told, Milan is not one of my favorite cities. Don’t get me wrong, the city is beautiful, but to me it’s a bit too touristic with too many crowds. And it lacks a bit of atmosphere that so many of the other Italian cities do have. Everything is tailor-made for the quick visitor, and I did not get a real chance to explore all its secrets (bare the church made of human bones, see below). I felt like a tourist and not a traveler, however cheesy that may sound. Yet, I had a great weekend, relaxed quite a bit, and ticked off some major attractions.
What to do
– Freak out in a church made of human bones: This is one of my favorite secrets of Milan. Not far from the Duomo is a church named San Bernardino alle Ossa. It has an ossuary: a small chapel decorated with human bones. To visit you enter the building at the left of the church, and follow the signs that say “ossario”.
– Visit the Duomo: Milan’s eye-catcher, an enormous gothic cathedral, is the biggest Roman Catholic cathedral in Italy and one of the biggest in the world. It took over 550 years to build! Fun fact: Napoleon was crowned as the king of Italy inside the Duomo. To visit the duomo you have to buy a ticket (starting at 3 EUR for simple entrance, to 16 EUR including rooftop visit by lift, archeological area and a museum) and stand in line, which can take a long time during high season.
– See Da Vinci’s Last Supper: A UNESCO world heritage site, the fresco of Da Vinci’s the Last Supper is painted on one of the walls of refectory by the Basilica di Santa Maria Delle Grazie. It was bombed during the second world war, but the wall with the Last Supper survived. To see it, you must book in advance (10 EUR).
– Sforzesco Castle: Located in the city center in Parco Sempione. A true 15th century castle. It used to be the center of power in Milan. Nowadays you can walk around for free.
– Have a drink at Navigli: When you are done sightseeing, and the Milanese are done working, head over to Navigli to find a canal whose sides are filled with little bars and terraces in the summer. Grab a drink and get wasted with the locals.
– Roam the flea markets of Milan, Fiera di Sinigaglia: Located at Navigli. Milan’s oldest flea market. Every Saturday. You’ll find everything.
– Chill in one of the many city parks or squares: Parco Sempione, Giardini publicci Indro Montanelli, and many more. Milan has loads of places to chill. Get out of the hectics and close your eyes for a bit.
– Take one of the free walking tours: No need to elaborate on this one. I love the tip based walking tours. Often give by fresh young people that truly know their city. So far everywhere I’ve gotten my money’s worth (and if it isn’t good, you tip less).
The public transport in Milan is good and cheap. There are clean busses, trams and metros. A single journey is 1.50 EUR and a day ticket is 4.50 EUR (3.00 EUR for an evening ticket starting at 8PM).
From Linate airport: you either take regular bus 73 for 1.50 EUR or there is a direct bus for 6.00 EUR. Takes less than 30 minutes.
From Malpensa airport: I didn’t fly from Malpensa, but I understand there are shuttle busses that cost about 10 EUR for a single fare and 16 EUR return.
I did not visit any museums. I barely had time to do the suggested attractions above. And I prefer being outside to visiting museums.
And I really, really liked the ossuary of San Bernardino alle Ossa. Go check it out. It is surreal.
No rights can be derived from this post. I did my utmost best to ensure that prices and times are correct, yet errors happen and prices change.