After two wonderful days in Venice, we took the train to Milan for our last night in Italy. It’s sad to see such an amazing trip come to the end, but Milan was the perfect place to relax and get ready for our journey home. I’ve heard complaints about Milan, but I think people need to adjust their expectations. When visiting Milan, you aren’t signing up for another quaint city or town, but rather a livable, cosmopolitan city with lots of stuff to do and great places to eat. Here’s what we did with our last day in Milan.
Milan is not super walkable, but we ended up walking everywhere since I think it’s the best way to see a city. Here’s an overview of what we saw.
Touristy Things to Do
The Last Supper
If you find yourself in Milan, the most touristy thing to do is visiting the Last Supper at Santa Maria delle Grazie. We were there on a Monday, which is the one day of the week that it’s closed! We wanted to go Tuesday morning before our flight, but for some reason, we couldn’t find morning tickets anywhere, despite trying to book a few months out! You can either buy tickets directly for 10 euros and a two euro reservation fee, or book a tour that offers entrance to the Last Supper. Tours will cost you more, but they generally include a city tour or some other component. If you want to save money by booking directly, be sure to book early as tickets are gone almost immediately when they are released. Guess I’ll just have to come back to Milan and see it another time!
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
After checking into the Park Hyatt Milan, we checked out the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the world’s oldest shopping mall. The galleria was opened in 1877 and is known for its beautiful architecture. Even if you aren’t looking to shop at Versace or Prada, it’s worth walking through to check out the glass dome.
When passing through, you may notice a group of people gathered around one of the tiled pictures on the floor. There are four mosaics on the floor representing the coats of arms of the three capitals of the kingdom of Italy: Rome, Florence, and Turin, as well as one for Milan. The bull on Turin’s coat of arms apparently can bring good luck if you put your heel in the worn-out hole over the balls of the bull and spin around three times. If you want to avoid a crowd, come back at night when the mall is less busy.
Milan Cathedral aka the Duomo
Next to the galleria is the Milan Cathedral aka the Duomo. This gorgeous cathedral is worth checking out during the day to see the inside and again at night. The cathedral is gothic style which is much different than the other famous churches we saw on this trip. The Duomo is the largest church in Italy (since St. Peter’s is in Vatican City, rather than Italy), and it took almost six centuries to complete!
The cathedral is open from 8:00am to 7:00pm with the last tickets sold at 6:00pm. It cost three euros to enter and you can pay more if you want to check out the terrace. You can buy tickets ahead of time, but I don’t think it’s necessary unless you are visiting on a weekend. Make sure to wear something to cover your knees and shoulders!
The Sforza Castle was built in the 15th century by the Duke of Milan. It was later enlarged during the 16th and 17th centuries, making it one of the largest fortresses in Europe. You can enter the castle itself for free, but entrance to the museum is five euros. Note that the museums are closed on Mondays. We were a bit “museumed-out” from a busy week of travel, so we were fine strolling through and sitting down by the large fountain outside the castle walls.
Fun Areas to See in Milan
We didn’t stop to look at anything particular, but it’s worth strolling through Brera, Quadrilatero della Moda, and Navigli.
Brera is considered the arts district in Milan. Brera has an older feeling than other parts of Milan which certainly adds to its charm. Walking through Brera, you will see lots of small shops and cafes. There are also several museums in Brera including the Brera Picture Gallery at the Accademia di Belle Arti, The Braidense National Library, and the Botanical Gardens. Be sure to stop for a coffee at one of Brera’s many cafes.
Quadrilatero della Moda
The Quadrilatero della Moda is Milan’s fashion district which centers around Via Montenapoleone. If you’re interested in high fashion, you’ll find pretty much any designer you can think of in this area. It’s definitely worth a visit just for window shopping!
The Navigli District is home to Milan’s network of canals. And you thought you’d only see canals in Venice! Navigli is a great place to spend the evening. There are tons of restaurants and bars. We were there on Monday night and were shocked by how many people were out. It felt busier than most weekends in Boston! For some of the fancier or more popular restaurants, I recommend making a reservation ahead of time since many don’t take walk-ins. However, we ate at a delicious little spot with no reservation (more on that below).
Pizza in Milan is a bit different than anywhere else. Its super thick crust is more bread-y than doughy. It’s not quite like Chicago deep dish which has more of a pie-like crust. I guess you could call it a mix between regular thin crust and deep dish. We had lunch at Pizzeria Spontini, a by-the-slice chain located downtown (very close to the Park Hyatt). There was a massive crowd but the line moved quickly. The pizza is unique so I definitely recommend trying this style when you’re in Milan. There are a lot of Spontini locations in Milan and even some in other countries like Japan!
Le Striatelle di Nonna Mafalda
We found this restaurant in Navigli after trying to eat at a place that required a reservation. It wasn’t too busy but the menu looked good and we were hungry. I’m so glad we stumbled upon this restaurant since it ended up being one of our favorite meals from the trip. The waiter and waitress were so nice and attentive even though we had a bit of a language barrier. As the night went on, the restaurant filled up with what appeared to be locals. I highly recommend the gnocchi! After our delicious meal, we strolled back to the Park Hyatt Milan and said goodnight to our last night in Italy.
Milan is definitely different than the other cities we visited on our trip, but I think it’s worth a visit for sure. Of all the places we stopped, Milan is by far the most livable. It ended up being one of my fiancé’s favorite cities! I know I’ll be back someday to check out the Last Supper and more of what northern Italy as to offer.