We coincidentally arrived in Milan during fashion week, so the city was abuzz with very stylishly dressed people. Of course that may be how Milan always is, I’m not sure. Chris was rocking cargo shorts and I was wearing the same Teva sandals I had had on for pretty much the entire last year, so we decided we wouldn’t be going a fashion show anytime soon.
The Duomo di Milano
Our first stop in Milan was of course the famous Duomo. We didn’t go in but took the obligatory photos outside. We opted not to feed the pigeons like a lot of tourists were doing, because pigeons are unpredictable and terrifying.
The Piazza del Duomo is adjacent to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a big fancy building where all the luxury brands have stores. It’s also next to some delicious gelaterias.
After that we headed down to the Naviglia canal area, which is kind of an entertainment district, with tons of bars and restaurants along the canals. We were excited to find a place that made Napoletana pizza, which we had missed since leaving Napoli.
We spent the rest of the day just wandering around, eating gelato, and window shopping, after discovering that being Monday meant that pretty much all the tourist attractions were closed.
The next morning we were up early to visit the Sforzesco Castle and its museums. Chris was especially excited because there were big armoury, furniture, and musical instrument sections. Some of the old-timey musical instruments were very Dr. Seuss-like.
To its credit, the museum also had quite a big art and sculpture collection, but we kind of blew through that part because we’d seen enough sculptures at this point.
Fashion and Food
That afternoon we met up with Katelyn and took a walk around the Quadrilatero della Moda, which is the fancy shopping area of town. This is where all the luxury brands like Prada, Louis Vuitton, etc. have their big stores. We didn’t actually go into any of the stores because they were ridiculously expensive, but we admired the extravagant window displays and the stylishly dressed people walking around. Chris was a bit bewildered, having only learned what Fendi was a couple weeks ago (apparently he has been confused about that Kreayshawn song for the last 5 years).
That evening we wandered back to the Naviglia canals, where we discovered Milan’s version of happy hour. Basically you pay a flat price (around 10 EURO) for one drink and an appetizer buffet. The buffets are pretty impressive, often having pizza and pasta in addition to salads and finger foods. Happy hour is meant to be a time for socialization, so you’re not really supposed to go back for multiple rounds, however if you did you could easily make a meal out of it. Chris did not really understand the happy hour concept at first and then was sad because he didn’t fill his plate enough. He did have his first Aperol Spritz though, this orange drink we had seen people having everywhere in Italy.
The next day, we decided to take a day trip out to Lake Maggiore. Lake Maggiore is only about 45 minutes from Milan via train, and is a bit less busy than the other, more well known nearby lake, Lake Como. I think because it doesn’t have so many celebrity houses there.
The popular thing to do on Lake Maggiore is to ride the ferry from the town of Stresa to its three small islands: Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori, and Isola Madre. So after a lakeside breakfast, we set off in search of a boat. Supposedly there is an official public ferry, but there were also tons of enterprising individuals who seem to have set up their own private ferries. Prices all seemed to be the same so we just hopped on the first boat we found.
The first island we visited was Isola Madre. Turns out that most of the island is occupied by a big garden, which was pricey to get into (for a garden). So we opted to have some gelato on the patio instead.
The next island was Isola dei Pescatori, which was much bigger. It had some beaches, as well as lots of shops and restaurants, so we stopped for some lasagna for lunch here.
The last island was Isola Bella. It was sort of the middle ground between the other two. It was smaller than Isola dei Pescatori and bigger than Isola Madre, with a garden but also some walking streets with shops and cafes. I was particularly excited because we ran into this awesome dog, who we had ridden the ferry with earlier in the day, again here. He was the cutest French bulldog.
Anyways, after a long day of ferries, we took the train back to Milan, where Chris nicely made us dinner.
The next day we met up with Brielle and visited Monumental Cemetery. It’s a super old and huge cemetery, where lots of famous Italians are buried, including the Campari family (of Campari liqueur), composer Giuseppe Verdi, and poet Alessandro Manzoni. Cemeteries like these are cool because instead of just having gravestones, most of the deceased have huge elaborate mausoleums and monuments. Chris liked the ones with photographs, since lots of them were black and white and featured men with impressive moustaches.
There were also several galleries where ashes were kept, behind pretty little plaques all along the walls. It was a little bit weird though, because many of them had stickers on them saying that they were overdue on payments and would be evicted!
That night we headed back to the Naviglia canals, to try our hand at happy hour again since Chris now understood how much food he should be taking. This time we went to a bigger bar and filled our plates properly.
Then, it was time to say goodbye to Katelyn and Brielle, and head over to Venice!