Setting to one of the four main fashion weeks each F/W and S/S. Home to arguably one of, if not the most successful blogger, Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad. The city to visit should you want to see The Last Supper in person. Up in northern region of Lombardy, Milan is a must-see for anyone planning an extensive Italian trip. I decided to visit while still a student
Up in northern region of Lombardy, Milan is a must-see for anyone planning an extensive Italian trip. I decided to visit back when I was still a student studying abroad in Madrid. While I only had a short 48 hours in Milan, I was able to do and see a lot.
I recently re-read the post I wrote in my old study abroad blog, and I thought I’d fix it up to help you should you choose to visit the city. I rarely travel fast, but as a student, I didn’t have a lot of room for slow travel.
There were a few reasons I chose Milan. I’d already been able to visit Rome, Florence, and many southern areas while on a high school trip; I had a local friend, Laura, who had previously studied at my university in the US, and one of my friends once studied there and was full of tips and advice. That and the 20 euro round trip tickets made it a pretty easy decision!
Here’s how I spent my weekend in one of Italy’s most famous northern cities.
48 Hours in Milan
I flew into Bergamo Airport, which is an hour outside of Milan, and took a shuttle bus into the main area of the city. I actually used to fit all my belongings for my weekend trips into this small MICHAEL Michael Kors weekender bag that’s no longer made, so I never had to worry about checking in or waiting for a suitcase.
I stayed at Hotel Panizza. I shared my room with a tourist from southern Italy and a curious woman who slept all day, left at night, and always made the room smell like her fast food breakfast the next day.
After I got settled in, I took a tram from Michele de Carso to Arco della Pace, where I saw this view (though at night):
Laura met up with me there, and since we were still early for aperitivo, we walked around the park and through Castello Sforzesco, a 15th-century castle built by the Duke of Milan. We then circled around and stopped by this gelato shop that my friend told me I had to go to, now called Chocolat Milano. I got, per her instructions, dark chocolate and strawberry. It’s easily some of the best gelato I’ve had in Italy, tied with the lemon and vanilla combination I got in Capri and can still recall almost a decade later.
By the time we finished our mini-night tour, it was time for aperitivo, so we headed back to a bar near Arco della Pace.
Let me just tell you. Aperitivo is the greatest invention of all time.
It happens every Friday night and works a bit like Happy Hour, only better. Buy a drink for about 8-10 euros, and prepare for a buffet of delicious food. You aren’t dealing with simple bar food, but actual Italian cuisine. Various fancy pasta selections, decadent chicken dishes, and more. Everything looked delicious.
Laura wanted me to try a typical Italian drink, a spritzer, but it was too strong for me even back then, so I wound up only sipping it a little.
Later we met up with her friends and went to a few different bars around the city, though by then I was exhausted, so my memory is much fuzzier.
Morning + Afternoon
Waking up to the wafting smell of Burger King, I was ready to go by 8 a.m. Since Saturday was my only full day in the city, I intended to make the most of it. I met up with Laura at the Cardona station, and from there we walked around. I was lucky because not only was she local, she wanted to make sure I could fully experience Milan and not miss anything.
We walked back to Castello Sforzesco to see it in the daytime and spent time in Parco Sempione which surrounds it. From the park, you can get really beautiful panoramic views of Arco della Pace.
After we were finished in the park, we walked along the many fashion streets and made our way to the Duomo di Milano.
Of all the European churches I saw that semester, the Duomo di Milano is by far the most impressive of them all. The largest church in all of Italy and one of the largest in the world, the Duomo took nearly 600 years to finish. All the Gothic details and white design make for a stunning view when you first see it. Really, most photos, even the most beautifully taken, pale in comparison to the feeling you get seeing it in person.
We wound up paying around 8 euros to climb to the top. This is great to get views of the plaza from above and to see the architectural details more closely.
Right next to the plaza is the gorgeous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Named after the Kingdom of Italy’s first king and one of the oldest shopping malls in the world, the Galleria is worth a visit even if every item of clothing within it makes your wallet cry a little. The interior design is beautifully ornate, especially with the iron and glass ceilings.
Laura and I separated to rest in the early afternoon. I went to see Santa Maria delle Grazie, which is where the painting of The Last Supper is at. While I couldn’t see the painting (you need reservations far in advance), I did enjoy walking around its gardens and seeing the church’s interior. The church has been around since the 1400s and even survived WWII bombings for the most part.
After spending most of the day walking around, catching up, and sight-seeing, we took a break to shower and relax. Laura’s friend then picked us up to head to Troppapizza, a restaurant near the Naviglio Grande.
I tried recommending it to a friend recently, and I’m so disappointed it seems to be out of business because of all my foodie memories, it’s my favorite. Just image a pizza buffet. In Italy. Laura and I actively prepared to have major food babies before we even left. It was only 12 euros for all you can eat pizza, soda, and coffee. My favorite wound up being this pear and walnut combination.
Sunday, sadly, was solely a travel day back to Madrid. My flight left pretty early and I still had the added hour of travel to Bergamo airport. If you have more time, take the Tren Italia and see nearby Venice, Florence, or Verona!
Have you been to Milan before? What would you recommend to do in 48 hours?
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All images are from Pixabay. All my 2012 Milan photos are blurry and overly filtered. I actually look red in one of them!