If you only have time to see one gallery in Milan, make it this one. Set up in 1618, it is home to over 1500 paintings by artists such as Raphael, Luini, Titian, Caravaggio, Botticelli and Brueghel. It also has a large collection of work by Da Vinci including his ‘Codex Atlanticus' and many of his notebooks. The building itself was completely restored in the 1990s and is a fine example of Lombard architecture with mullioned windows, frescoed walls and vaulted ceilings. The visit ends in the impressive library, rich in classical manuscripts, notably Homer and Virgil. Another bonus is the lack of crowds, so you always have a great view without having to jostle with the hordes!
I've been visiting Milan for quite a few years now, since my sister moved there to study, fell in love and settled.
Milan is not known as the most picturesque of Italian destinations. Having said this, it does have a lot to offer and I'd recommend it as a great mini-break destination. Apart from the art, architecture and opera there are loads of nice bars and places to go out, particularly if the weather is good. If you're lucky enough to be there on a warm spring day (spring is best as there are less mosquitos and more people about - the Milanese tend to leave the city en masse at the weekends in Summer) it's great to go out in the "Navigli" area which is full of nice bars and restaurants with tables and chairs outside looking over the ancient canals. This area is lovely although if you fancy having more than one beer or glass of wine it might sting a little as the prices are pretty high due to the "aperitivo" culture. This is basically Happy Hour time when drinks are expensive but the bar offers a buffet so you can eat and drink for 8-10 Euros which is great if you don't want to have more than one drink or go out for dinner afterwards.
I love going out for dinner and having more than one glass of wine so my top tip, to avoid getting stung, is the "Vineria" wine shop/bar on Via Casale, between the Porta Genova metro station and the "Naviglio Grande". This wine shop has big barrels inside and the staff pour out litres and bottle on request. It has no tables inside, no waiter service and no free aperitivo so it cuts out all the extra costs. You can sit outside with a glass of wine that costs €1.5 instead of €8 and, if you do fancy a bite, order a cheese and meat board, again for a very reasonable price. It's a great place allowing you to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the area, the good weather and wine and all on a budget.
Travelling through the Mont-Blanc tunnel and emerging in the Aosta valley brings you en route for the classic Italian cities. First of all, you pass through Turin before experiencing the Levantine Riviera as you travel along side the Mediterranean. From here you can continue further down to visit the famous leaning tower of Pisa or head back up to Milan. The majestic city of Venice is on a direct road from here and on the way you can stop by historic Verona and get in touch with your romantic side by leaving a letter to Juliet.
Google map: bit.ly/iRuNcu
Under represented in the guide books and slightly away from the heart of Milan, the Triennale, in the gardens of the Castello Sforzesco, is a museum of modern applied arts.
There are usually four or five temporary exhibits, covering an eclectic mix of different disciplines. When I was there the standout was an outstanding retrospective of the work of Milanese designer and architect Marco Ferreri.
A great place to people watch too, as an indoor alternative to gawping at the fashionistas in the Quadrilatero della Moda!
I've never actually been very big on spending extended periods in Milan, but sometimes I have to appease my cousin, and the last three times he really met me halfway since booking was up to him.
He got me a room at Hotel Straf, which was cool enough to almost change my opinion of Milan, and definitely gave me the best stay. The staff was really helpful and professional, but took it to the next level and was genuinely FRIENDLY, which I know can be difficult with large chain hotels in any corner of the world.
24-hour reception and a gym was a nice plus, and leave it to my cousin to find me the place with the best bar :-)
As much as I love Italy for its history and antiquity, as well as ornate elegance, I'm equally drawn to modern decor and this place blows me away each time. The rooms are all unique with their own little touches, which just makes it more fun on every visit. Each time a pleasant surprise awaits me, though I must say I'm honestly in love with the brass and the black stone bathrooms (I can't remember the suite numbers now, sorry!). And the bar having massage chairs and aromatherapy rooms? EXQUISITE, absolutely exquisite! Anyway, this is definitely the place to stay in Milan, and very central, and it's definitely the place I'll be on my next trip.
Also, the booking agency speaks perfect English and is very prompt, so if you don't speak Italian, you can do this all yourself with a really user friendly site and don't have to go through cousins! And of course the hotel staff itself is well versed in more than two languages!
Here's where I booked: www.italiancollection.com/en/hotel-straf.html
Only 20 minutes away from the Duomo, this hostel is by Idroscalo, with its swimming beach and lake.
It's a really social hostel with a cool Italian bar and is opposite the 'rolling stone' nightclub if you want to go out.
Lots of good freebies - breakfast, linen, wi-fi and a city map.
A football bar in the home of Calcio. This small sports bar has a lively atmosphere, showing football and rugby to a predominantly Inter Milan crowd, although they accommodate all supporters and carry games from Britain and elsewhere.
Via Procaccini, Milan (off Corso Sempione) www.blogfromitaly.com/four-four-two/
Stresa, like many of the other towns which reside on the lakes, is a typical tourist trap, but is good if you are short of time and fancy some mountain biking or walking (skiing in the winter). You can hire bikes from the cable car at Stresa for €10, put the bike in the cable car to Mottarone and bike down. The routes are clearly signposted and there are free route maps. If you take route L1, one third of the route is on road (not so fun!) but there are other routes you can take.
Stresa has it's own train station. You take the train from Milan Centrale towards Domodossola, the journey takes 1 hour 10 minutes.
As the security restrictions have made it almost impossible to buy tickets online in advance of your trip to Milan - try this! You can purchase the tickets through Tonino who meets you in person at the no.67 ticket office on the north of the stadium. The service charge is around ten euro per ticket but in fairness it's better than getting one from a tout as the tickets are legitimately purchased through the club with your name on them. Made my recent trip over for the Milan derby possible.
Design Summer Sessions for beginners
and advanced students of all ages at two of the city's top design schools. Courses last two or four weeks and cover the areas of fashion, graphics, interior and product design from a fascinating Milanese point of view with many guest speakers - a great place to network for contacts as well. Book a place online for this July.
Domus Academy and Naba are the host schools - it is also possible to do the first two weeks in London at St Martins College of Art and Design
Directly across from central station and metro (airport, La Scala etc). Very helpful staff (good restaurant recommendations, ie torriani 25 across the street). Rooms are very nice especially in tower. Breakfast is lovely. Prices reasonable.
via napo torriani
This restaurant is amazing! A great selection of innovative dishes with fabulous service.
Caminetti is a cosy family restaurant with a beautiful outside dining area overlooking the Piazza and Arco Della Pace and a delightful traditional interior.
Try the carrot and almond tart and follow up with the theatre that is macaroni heated in a giant parmesan wheel of cheese! Perfectly situated to move on to to some fantastic bars when you have finished your stunning meal.
The best meal we ate in a two-week tour.
Piazza Sempione 8
TeL 02.345 37 919
From the air, three old hills in a large park northeast of Milan appear oddly pyramidal. On the ground, a trail leads past grazing horses and cows and slopes terraced for wine growing. When the air is clear, the Alps are seen to the north.
Any mysteries lie buried and long forgotten.
Hey, surfing the net I have found this useful travel guide that gives tons of tips to the independent travellers! Furthermore, I think it is a good source of information because you can deal with hotel's official sites, avoiding paying commission to intermediaries.
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