trip report: milan
Milan seems to get a bad rap. It's not as beautiful as Florence, lacks in the history of Rome, and doesn't even have pizza like Naples. Or so they tell you. I was expecting something like the Pittsburgh of Italy, to be honest. (Sorry Pittsburgh?)
Guys, if Milan were a city in the United States, it would -- hands down -- be the most beautiful metropolis in the entire country. Sure, parts of it look newer and more urban than other Italian cities, but many neighborhoods resemble Paris or Barcelona or the more traditionally beautiful cities of Italy. I was more than pleasantly surprised.
Milan was actually only a stopover on the rest of our trip through Emilia-Romagna, but I'm glad we had the 36 hours or so that we did. We certainly crammed a lot in: red-eye flight with a toddler included. [more on that later]
We stayed at the Principe di Savoia, mostly because it was pretty kid friendly with larger rooms than what you might find closer to the city center. I would say if you're coming WITHOUT kids, you might want to opt for something more boutique-y that's walking distance to more of the sites and shopping, but we took quick taxis everywhere without any fuss. And, omg, look at the bed they made up for her:
We landed late morning and grabbed the Malpensa Express straight from the airport. We'd heard traffic can be a nightmare, so the train was both cheaper and more efficient. From the station, we grabbed a quick cab to our hotel, dropped our stuff off and basically skipped with glee to our lunch at Ratana. My god, was this place awesome (and very toddler friendly too!). We started off with fried meatballs, a Milanese specialty, followed by beets and cheese, tartare, and some sort of a delicious pesto-type pasta loaded with late spring vegetables and herbs.
Avvie, being a meatball and pasta fiend, was quite pleased. She was also pumped to have a BRAND NEW Water Wow book, which, if you have toddlers, please go buy 100 of these immediately. Life savers on flights and at restaurants.
While I'm not the biggest shopper on most vacations, I always reserve a bit of time in major Italian or French cities for some true down-and-dirty bargain hunting, department store peeping, and pharmacy raiding. Unfortunately we missed the Milanese sales by only a few weeks, but I did drag Mike and Avvie to DMAG for some serious discount shopping. You guys, there were literally just racks of Lanvin and Saint Laurent hanging like it was a Marshall's. I've never seen anything like it. Also, just saying, Goyard is 30% cheaper in Europe...
After pounding the pavement on Via Montenapoleone and being sufficiently wowed by 10 Corso Como (see Avvie above!), we headed to dinner at Trippa, which many other food-loving friends had recommended. We more or less left the menu up to our waiter and the owner, who were just really cool dudes. I finally tried vitello tonnato, which sounds horrific, but is actually quite the perfect summertime entree. We also gobbled down some perfect white asparagus and pasta with bits of chicken innards (also sounds not so appetizing, but incredible).
The next morning, we were up bright and early to see The Last Supper. If you haven't attempted to get tickets before, FYI, it can be a bit of an ordeal. The official ones sell out super fast, but luckily there are other operators who sell them bundled with a tour guide. We went with Musement, since they seemed to be the most legit, and the whole process was very straightforward. Our guide was waiting for us with a sign outside of the church, she handled getting our tickets, and spoke perfect English. We also learned a lot more about the process behind the painting than we would have without guide, so it was definitely worth it.
How was bringing a toddler to see one of the most important works of art in the Western world? Eh. While we couldn't get her to sleep, she mostly behaved. Her favorite part of the whole exhibit was the frieze created for blind people to feel the painting. So...yeah.
From there, we walked over to the Duomo di Milano, where I had bought tickets ahead of time online (and highly recommend doing so to avoid the lines). You can opt to include access to the terraces in your ticket (see above photo), which is definitely worth it. But HEADS UP: even though you can take an elevator instead of stairs, the terraces themselves are NOT stroller friendly. Thank god we had the Yoyo with us instead of our Bugaboo, not sure what we would have done if we had to lug her full-size stroller through the narrow passages.
After a quick stop for gelato at Venchi, we hopped the subway to get to lunch at Un Posto a Milano. While I came across this place on some foodie or other's list, it was especially appealing because it's beyond kid friendly. They even have a separate baby menu (!) with things like fresh veggie purees or polenta with parmesan. I died. We split a bunch of apps and some beautiful ravioli:
And then, sadly, it was time to grab our bags and head to the train station. It was a great introduction to a wonderful city and I hope we can return soon.