“Only five days?” friends exclaimed, when we shared our next trip’s details. This proved to be a solid amount of time to dip our toes into three very beautiful Italian cities, beginning with one day in Milan.
We landed at 9am, heading straight to Duomo station via metro to drop our backs at the hotel. Our official “Welcome to Italy” was a glimpse of the Duomo directly outside the station, and what impressive first sight it was.
We inched our way toward the hotel through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (the beautiful shopping plaza adjacent to the Duomo) oogling some luxury shop windows in the process. How were we to get anywhere if every step was more beautiful than the last?
We eventually found our new home, the Park Hyatt Milan. We were told that our room would not be ready until after 1:00 (it was only 11:00 at the time), so we dropped our bags and headed out to explore.
Since this was our first stop in Italy, our minds were decidedly in one place: our stomachs. Double espressos gave us the strength to explore Peck’s, one of the more formidable gastronomic hubs I have seen. Opened in 1883, this location has an impressive wine cellar, a pricey cafe/bar, and a gallery of ingredients and prepared foods so pretty, you should have to pay admission. They even carry vintage Chinese teas: price per kilo? 600 Euros.
Ready for a religious experience of a different kind, we explored the Duomo’s interior and terraces next. This architectural monolith is the fifth largest cathedral in the world, and took six centuries to complete.
Because it took so long to complete, the cathedral reflects many styles of architecture and art, to the scorn of some and to the thrill of others. I personally loved wandering among the spires and flying buttresses, and wished that we would have caught one of the many concerts and cultural events that occur on the terrace.
Next stop: the Castella Sforzesco. Walking down via Dante brings you to this ancient citadel-turned-museum, housing works like Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini, and DaVinci’s Ala Delle Asse. When visiting, keep in mind that admission is free on Fridays from 2 p.m. to 5.30 p.m., and Tuesday-Thursday and on weekends from 4.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m., but many galleries close for 3 hours mid-day.
In dire need of a nap,we groggily stumbled back to the Hyatt . Though our room was “one of the largest standard rooms in Milan”, we flopped into bed, waiting to suss out our new digs for our one day in Milan until after some sleep.
Well rested and ready for more, we looped around high-end shopping street Via Montenapoleone to the travelling exhibition Il Mondo di Leonardo. This showcase brought life to DaVinci’s original technical drawings through digital animations, allowing the visitor to interact with DaVinci’s groundbreaking machines.
For dinner, our concierge recommended Nabucco on Via Fiori Chiari for a dinner like Nonna would make. This would be our first official meal after many small bites, and it did not disappoint.
We took a taxi to the Navigli canal district after dinner, where wine bars, restaurants, and after hour clubs line the waterfront. The sun was just preparing to set, and drinks by the early evening light lasted long into the night.
We set up shop at Il Vinaccio, a wine bar with over 20 options by the glass, a very helpful owner, and free drinking snacks to bring with you curbside (basket of hard boiled eggs, anyone?). I don’t know what it is, but everything tastes better a)When you can sit on the ground outside b)When the price is reasonable (4 Euro a glass on the high end) and c)When your neighbors want you to have more fun they they are having.
With an additional bottle of Nuhar under our arm, we ate our first, and maybe the best gelato of the trip at Rinomata Gelateria. Bellies full of goodness, cheeks red with smiles and wine, our one day in Milan was complete.