The first stop of our Italian tour was in Milan. We chose to fly into Milan from the US because it was the cheapest option with no layovers from our home airport, and it was also close to one of our main regions that we wanted to explore. Milan wasn’t a key destination for us in the planning of this trip, but since we were going to be there, we figured we may as well spend some time exploring at least a tiny bit of this illustrious city.
Our flight arrived at Milan Malpensa Airport at 9am, and after passing through customs and picking up our bags (a surprisingly fast process in the times of COVID), we managed to purchase tickets for the Trenord Malpensa Express which would shuttle us directly to Milan Central train station. We followed signs for the train from the terminal and purchased tickets for the next train from a Trenord kiosk (you can’t miss it). Tickets were under 10 euro per person, and the train takes about 45 minutes to get into Milan.
Once we arrived at the station, we dropped our bags at left luggage (just follow signs for “deposito baggagli” once you disembark the train), and made coffee our first priority, as usual. While there are any number of what I am sure are incredible coffee shops around central station, we decided to walk about 15 minutes into a more residential part of town to a café called Orsonero. For any coffee buff, I would highly recommend this café, as it was definitely the best coffee I had during our entire stay in Italy. After sitting to enjoy our coffee at one of the few outside tables, we ventured onward to Pavé, a well-known bakery which serves all manners of tasty looking pastries, but which is most known for their croissants. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived here (around 11am on a Friday) they were mostly sold out, and we were left with only a few options. I think because of this I wasn’t super blown away by what we ended up getting but could still be worth a visit if you’re in the area.
We then caught a metro down to Zone 1 of Milan, which is where many of Milan’s attractions are including the Duomo, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Teatro alla Scala, and many more. Getting metro tickets was straightforward as there was a ticket machine at the station we used. We ended up purchasing a day pass just in case we wanted to take transit anywhere else in the city. These tickets were around 7 euro per person.
After getting off the metro at the Duomo stop, we took the stairs up and were greeted by the beautiful white marble structure. We took in the sights of the exterior of the duomo and headed left toward the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which is a 19th century mall, home to some of the most luxurious brands out there. After spinning on the bull, we killed some time and walked over to our lunch spot. We made lunch reservations at Giacomo Arengario for a couple reasons. 1) The views looked spectacular and 2) to try their risotto Milanese, which is a must try in the area. We were not disappointed by either, and while we were extremely tired by this point, having not really slept on our plane journey over, we still had a great time at this restaurant.
After finishing lunch, we decided it was time for our second coffee of the day, and we headed over to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery which was a short 5 minute walk from the Duomo area. The space is beautiful with many options depending on what you are looking for. Starbucks offers table service, a bar with coffee inspired drinks, a couple different food options, and of course their typical services as well. After checking this spot out we walked a little further out to Pettinaroli, a craft store which has been operating since 1881 to purchase some souvenirs. My favorite thing to purchase on trips is prints or local artwork, and this is a great spot to do that. Pettinaroli specializes in leather goods and stationery but also has a vast collection of prints, vintage maps, and other collectables.
After collecting our goods, we trekked back down to the Duomo for our reservation slot at the Duomo’s terraces (around 25 euro per person). This was our last stop in Milan, but it was certainly not the least. We took an elevator up to the roof of the Duomo, and then were allowed to follow the marked path to take in not only incredible views of the city below but also an up-close view of the incredible architecture and craftsmanship of the Duomo and its spires. You can go all the way up to the apex of the church which also offers an incredible experience (after you climb some very narrow and steep steps). Once you descend from the roof (by stairs this time instead of elevator), you are let into the cathedral where you can see much of the interior of the church as well as the famous statues inside.
We exited the duomo and hopped back on the metro to Central Station, where we located some more Trenord kiosks to purchase tickets to Como. I will say that this process was a little confusing and once we purchased our tickets, we were slightly panicked that we got the wrong ones because our ticket had different information to what was presented on the departure boards. For this reason, if possible, we recommend to just purchase your ticket online or with a Trenord representative. We confirmed our tickets were, in fact, the correct ones and were able to board our train to Como without a hitch. This train took about an hour and then we found ourselves at the base of Lake Como, which we will tell you more about in our next post. If you have any questions or know any sights we might have missed please leave a comment!