Milan, financial capital of Italy, was no-doubt the richest Italian city we visited. Feeling like an Italian version of London, it was clean, pretty, and very modern.
Since we only had 1 day in Milan, we had to choose our sights wisely. We didn’t buy tickets to see The Last Supper, so we had to skip that, but if we ever return to Milan we’ll be sure to book tickets ahead of time.
Castello Sforzesco / Castle Sforza
Our first stop was Castello Sforzesco, a 15th-century castle built by the Duke of Milan. It was very scenic, with a beautiful, large park behind it.
In true castle fashion, there used to be a moat that ran around the castle, but it’s now dried up and home to many cats. We saw a woman ride up to them on a bike and feed them in a little nook. It was adorable!
There was a museum and several exhibitions, but we were on a tight schedule, so we had to give it a pass. We strolled in the park behind it instead, where Italians were gathered for picnics and games. It was a nice glimpse of regular Italian life.
Then, prompted by our grumbling bellies, we found a cheap sandwich place using Yelp, conveniently located right outside the Castle.
After lunch, we stumbled upon a gorgeous fountain on the way to the metro. It was hot, and several people sat around it with their feet in the water. It looked like a great idea. We not only sat with our feet in the water, but also waded into the middle for photo ops:
And because everyone started doing it, the guards came around and chased everyone out of the water. Even our feet weren’t allowed in there anymore 🙁
On hindsight, it probably wasn’t very hygienic to be walking in water that others have stuck their feet in, so we made sure we dried out feet out really well after…
Onwards to the highlight of Milan: the Duomo.
When I first saw pictures of Milan’s Duomo, my first thought was, “Why is it so spiky?”
It was only upon closer study that I realized the “spikes” were actually statues.
3200 statues, to be precise, atop 135 spires. Crazy! But amazing. Crazy amazing.
The Duomo is located in a large square, with a gigantic shopping mall right next to it. I loved how open everything was, unlike in Rome, where historic sites were situated smack-dab in the middle of busy, narrow streets.
Buy the correct ticket. There are different tickets: tickets to enter the Duomo, and tickets just to get to the roof. We first bought the wrong ticket to the roof, when we needed a ticket to go inside the Duomo. This led to a scuffle with the entrance guards not worth remembering. I repeat, get the correct ticket!
Inside the Duomo
The interior made it easy to shrug off the frustrations of entering. It was pure gothic gold. With some modern touches, of course, because it’s Milan.
The high ceilings, marble columns, and statues were so intricate and so profound, that I almost didn’t want to leave.
While we were there, a service started, and they started reciting names of worshippers. At least I think that’s what it was – everything was in Italian.
The Duomo was HUGE, and there were so many angles to photograph from.
After we took a million photos of the inside, we took an elevator to the roof to soak in birds-eye views of Milan. You can choose to buy a cheaper ticket and take the stairs, but after climbing 463 steps up the Duomo in Florence, I was quite done with stairs. This time there was an elevator available, so I jumped on it. Worth it!!
The elevator was a good call, because the roof closed at sunset, and we didn’t get much time on it.
Like the interior, the roof was Gothic gold. We got a closer look at the statues topping the spires.
One of these statues is gilded copper – the statue of Madonnina (Little Madonna), Milan’s traditional protector. She is pictured here with my sister:
It’s too bad the roof closes at sunset, because Milan would have been beautiful at night. Not that it wasn’t beautiful in the day!
Milan’s skyline is quite astounding.
I love climbing onto roofs and getting great views!! This was just like climbing to the top of Florence’s Duomo. Breathtaking!
For kicks, we explored the luxury shopping mall next to Duomo. It was too beautiful to give a miss. I’m glad we visited, because it made for beautiful photos.
Believe it or not, we actually bought something at this high-end mall. Yelp informed us of this famous Panzerotti shop called Luini, so we had to get one of these deep-fried cheese-filled donut things.
There are also buskers in the area, and we watched acts by a pretty Italian lady dancing with a crystal ball, and a break-dancing troupe. It felt a lot like Orchard Road in Singapore (a high-end shopping district).
Basilica di San Lorenzo
Seeing that we had time to spare until nightfall, we decided to explore a little more. My sister recalled studying a certain church in Archi class that was nearby, so we keyed it into Google Maps.
It was only about a 20 minute walk to Basilica di San Lorenzo, and we got to window shop along the way.
This Catholic church was built in Roman times and rebuilt over the centuries. I was born and raised in Singapore, which is only 50+ years old, so seeing places that have hundreds of years of history still astounds me.
Then we walked around the back, and were pleasantly surprised to find the back of the church even more beautiful.
On the way back to the Duomo, we chanced upon this rather impressive street art piece:
Italians are very talented.
Duomo at Night
Duomo at nighttime is equally impressive, and La Rinascente was beautifully lit.
We sat staring at the Duomo for a very long time. It’s hard to believe this amazing building is real.
To end our day in Milan, my sister took a photo with the statue and finally headed back to our cosy Airbnb. Tonight is our last night in Italy, then we are headed to Switzerland!
I hope you enjoyed our photos! Milan was a nice change from chaotic Rome and touristy Venice, but Florence still tops my list of Roman cities. I did like that there was a lot less graffiti in Milan. 1 day probably wasn’t enough to do Milan justice.
What was your visit to Milan like?
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This post is part of a whirlwind 14-day trip in Western Europe with my sister prior to her exchange programme in Glasgow, Scotland. Thank you for a trip of a lifetime!! (And here’s to many more!!)