Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Travel Tuesdays: Milan, Italy

To kick off my Travel Tuesdays series I have my weekend trip to Milan, Italy. I went to visit my aunt who was there for work and I got the chance to do some sightseeing. We decided to do a self-guided walking tour called 'Milan Highlights Tour,' courtesy of the TripAdvisor Offline City Guides App on my iPhone. It took us from the Duomo di Milano to the Castello Sforzesco with stops at landmarks along the way.

On a side note, if you are traveling abroad I would highly recommend the TripAdvisor Offline City Guides App, granted you have access to a smartphone. It lets you search the TripAdvisor database without using data or wifi, which is great since using your data abroad can cost you a pretty penny due to roaming charges. All you have to do is download the guides of the cities you are planning to visit when you have access to wifi and when you get there, let the app be your guide. It has everything included on the TripAdvisor website from restaurant reviews to suggested itineraries.
The first stop on the 'Milan Highlights Tour' was the Duomo di Milano, probably the most famous landmark in Milan. From the moment I stepped foot onto the Duomo Square I was captivated by the beauty and size of the cathedral. Being the 5th largest cathedral in the world, and the largest in Italy, the Duomo is quite a sight to behold.

It's free to enter the Duomo but make sure you are wearing appropriate clothes as they will not let you in if you are wearing low-cut tops, skirts, spaghetti straps, etc. Once inside, you can donate €2 to get yourself a wristband that allows you to take photos.
The artistry of the interior of the Duomo could not be truly captured by my camera. It was at this moment that I wished I had invested in a high quality DSLR. But, I tried my best. From the stained glass windows to the statues and the sarcophagi of late archbishops, the entire cathedral was brimming with art and history.

Lining the walls of the Duomo were pieces of artwork such as the famous statue, the San Bartolomeo Flayed (1562), which depicts the saint with his flayed skin draped over his body like a stole.

After exploring every corner and crevice of the Duomo's interior, my aunt and I paid €7 each to take the stairs to the top of the cathedral. It was 250 steps and the halls were quite narrow, so if you're not in good health or are claustrophobic I'd suggest paying the €12 to take the elevator. When we got to the top, it was definitely worth every Euro I paid and step I took because I was met with a view unlike any other.

Upon initially stepping out onto the lower part of the roof, you can see the elegance of the architecture up close. It's incredible to think of the amount of hard work and dedication it took to build the cathedral because every brick and stone seemed to be lain and carved with such care. Eventually we made our way to the very top of the roof and the view from there was breathtaking.

We were able to look down upon the Duomo Square and look out upon the rest of Milan. The view was beautiful and no pictures could do them justice. I did, however, have my aunt take a victory pose photo of me at the top because I was incredibly proud to have walked the entire way up!

Literally down the block from the Duomo di Milano is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. A very well-known shopping center that is home to the stores of high-end brands like Prada and Louis Vuitton. I didn't dare to step foot inside one of the stores however, because I knew I'd probably walk out spending tons on a new handbag.

We ended up having lunch at a restaurant on the north-eastern side of the Galleria called La Locanda del Gatto Rossa. We had an Octopus Salad as an appetizer and for our main course we had Pizza with Parma Ham. The food was delicious and while I really wanted a gelato, I decided to save my stomach for dinner.
If you leave the Galleria via the northernmost exit you will find yourself not too far from Teatro alla Scala. A world-renowned opera house, Teatro alla Scala is a must-see for opera aficionados. While my aunt and I are not huge opera fans, we did want to stop by to check it out.

A few blocks away from the Scala Opera, we stopped off at the Museo Poldi Pezzoli. The museum is home to fine arts, furnishings and a collection of arms owned by the Pezzoli family. Even if you are not  a connoisseur of the arts, its still worth stopping by as the museum building is actually the villa of the Pezzolis. It gives you a glimpse into what it was like to live as one of the elite Milanese families in the 19th century.

We skipped over a few stops along the way since we were running low on time so our last destination was the Castello Sforzesco. Home to the ruling family of Northern Italy during the late Middle Ages through the renaissance, the castle is set behind a beautiful water fountain called Tort de's pus, translated to Wedding Cake Fountain. Also, if you are an Assassin's Creed player like myself, you'll recognize it as the home of Caterina Sforza who's Ezio's lover in AC: Brotherhood.

Inside the castle was a lot of empty space and it's now being used as a public park. My aunt and I wandered around the castle grounds and to our surprise we found a lot of cats. There must have been at least 10 in each little area of grass below the main level of the castle. Unfortunately, we didn't get the chance to go inside the museum housed within the castle, since it had closed for the day already.

To end our day we had dinner at Osteria del Corso and I finally got to eat gnocchi in Italy. My aunt ordered another octopus salad for an appetizer and for dessert I had iced cream. It literally was frozen whip cream, which by the way I do not suggest it, I only got it since the restaurant seemed to have none of the other desserts listed on its menu. But at least the appetizers and entrĂ©es were delicious.

I was really sad to leave my aunt and return to London but I had a wonderful time in Milan. The architecture and art that I got to see during my visit will stay in my mind for a lifetime.

Be sure to follow me on my other platforms, listed below, for more updates and posts regarding my travels in Europe. I'm not sure which city I will visit next, but for the moment it looks like I might be headed to Germany one of these weekends. Are there any places you'd recommend I visit while I'm here in Europe? Let me know!

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  1. I went to Milan earlier this year and it really is a lovely place, the Duomo di Milano really is the most incredible sight xx

  2. What a great app! The architecture there is amazing! I would love to see it in person some day :D

  3. Beautiful photos! What a stunning city. I would have loved to meet those cats in the castle courtyard.

  4. The trip looks absolutely incredible. I'd love to visit Milan one day :)

    Kah-Feh Yen


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