Thursday, 10 May 2012

Milan Adventure Part 2 - Things to see and do in Milan!

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Read Part 1 of my Milan Adventure here!

Where to start?

The Shops! Of course ;)

If you are a dedicated follower of high end fashion or a particularly good window shopper you will love the Golden Rectangle.

Walk along Via Montenapoleone, Via Manzoni, Via del Corso, and Via Senato and you will be in designer heaven!

You'll find all the big names; Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, Valentino, D&G, Versace, Armani..... Every shop window had the most eye catching displays.

There is a really nice, if busy shopping centre between La Scala Opera House and Duomo Cathedral (map)

You may enjoy this little video....

The Sights!

I didn't need the regular tourist bus to get around town! I set my own agenda. I have used these buses before in other cities and they are handy for big cities when they cover a lot of ground and attractions.

Duomo Cathedral

Ask anyone who has been to Milan what you should see and I'll put money on it that they will tell you the Duomo Cathedral. And I'll tell you that too!

I'm not particularly into churches or cathedrals, but if there is an impressive looking one in the town or city I'm visiting I'm always drawn into having a look. It's not for the religious aspect, or even the history, but I do find myself amazed at the scale and architecture of these buildings and of all the cathedrals I've seen I would say the Duomo is one of the most impressive.

Every aspect of the outside of he cathedral is adorned with statues and gargoyles.

If you venture inside, then you can admire the stained glass windows...

Light a candle for loved ones and also.....

Check out the dead bodies on display! Archbishops I believe. It's ok, you can only see their hands

 I arrived at the cathedral at about midday on a Saturday and expected a long queue to get in as this place is on every Milan tourist’s must-see list. However the queue was short and moved quickly so I ended up waiting for about 2 minutes. And it's free entry.

What I would really recommend is a trip up to the very top of the Duomo's roof.

That was definitely one the highlights! It costs €10 if you are feeling energetic and take the stairs up. (There are 160 steps. I counted them for you) or €12 if you want to take the lift.

You need to buy your ticket first and you can get this from a souvenir kiosk at the rear, and to the right of the Cathedral. Then take yourself and your ticket to either the entrance for the stairs or the lift. They are separate from each other though you can find both on the left hand side of the cathedral on the outside.

If you get the lift, you can take the stairs down. I would recommend doing this. The queue for the lift to go back down was much longer than the queue for the lift going up and by the time you have waited for the lift you could have waked down the stairs and be enjoying a coffee at one of the cafes over looking the square.

Oh, and wear non slip shoes. Parts of the roof top are on a slope and are very smooth so watch your step!

Another video!

If you are looking for a place to eat around the cathedral, there are plenty of places to chose from.

If you are on a budget and want a good meal try the Autogrill (map). If you are facing the cathedral entrance, it's to the left. It's on the 2nd floor. The restaurant itself is called Ciao. It's a self service cafe with a wide range to chose from; pasta and pizza (of course!), salad, fruit, fish, meats and alcohol. You get a fast service and good food at a decent price. Grab a seat by the window over looking Duomo and the square!

Sforzesco Castle

This is the sight that greets you at the main entrance to the castle.

This is a large historic site that used to be owned by the Duke of Milan and it was built in the mid-15th century. There are four small museums within the complex and it's only €3 to visit them all. I didn't go into them so I don't know what they are like, but suspect they are full of old things as they have an archaeology museum and a museum of natural history too.

I was more taken with this family of wild cats living in the old moat!


The weather was so perfect that I decided to chill out in Sempione Park which is right next to Sforzesco Castle. The park was really well used by not only tourists but locals as well.

If you are looking to escape the busy city streets, there’s a lovely little park which is just a few minutes walk from Duomo called Public Gardens (map)

I went here twice and although it wasn't deserted, it was really chilled.

Monumental Cemetery

The quietest place in the city!

 If you really want to get away from the crowds and get off the tourist trail, head for the Monumental Cemetery. Yes, you read that right. A cemetery!

I made a little video here too!

I didn't find it a depressing place to be at all! I think because so much thought and care has gone into each grave stone. In a way, not only do these elaborate headstones and mausoleums show an individual tribute to the loved ones that have passed away, but it is also a way for the deceased to show off their wealth after they have gone! Only the rich can/could afford to be buried here.

The air is thick with the scent of flowers. If you wanted to pay tribute, you can buy bouquets from stalls outside the main entrance.

It’s something a little different!

Central Station

As I mentioned in my last post Central Station is worth spending some time in and has some great photo opportunities!

I think I packed quite a lot into my 2 day Milan adventure! It helped by Milan being so walkable and that it has a great transport system. And with such a short flight time of only 90 minutes from Gatwick Airport it's a great place for a short weekend break.

All too soon it was time to go home on my return Monarch flight to Gatwick Airport. When you book a Monarch flight you have the option of selecting a meal for £7.99-£8.99.

This was my breakfast on my way out on my early morning flight.

And  my dinner on my evening flight. Lamb Moussakka, bread, cheese and biscuits with onion chutney and an apple pie.

I liked the variety and for £7.99 I think it's good value for money, plus they catered to my wheat/gluten free diet. It’s handy if you are in a rush in the morning and skipped breakfast, and it will tide you over until you get off the plane to your final destination. If you don't want to book a meal then there are a selection of sandwiches, crisps and nibbles, chocolate, and a range of hot, cold and alcoholic drinks to chose from.

William, one of the cabin crew on the return flight! 

Monarch now operate new flights to Milan from Birmingham, London Gatwick and Manchester airports from March 2012 with fares, including taxes, starting from £35.99 one way (£60.99 return).

Thank you for a great time Gatwick, Monarch and Milan! :) 

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