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Milan – Backpacking in the Dynamic Metropolis of Fashion and Football

I don’t know why, but I had always wanted to visit Milan. The city is famous for two things, football and fashion.

Any lifelong Champions League fan will be familiar with this city as it is home to two legendary teams. Furthermore, a diehard fashion-lover will be more familiar with Milan’s role in the fashion industry. It is where landmark Italian brands such as Dolce and Gabbana, Armani and Versace all came from.

When I asked my Italian friend about Milan they said it was awful and the people there are stuck-up. These words didn’t put off my desire however and I was still set on visiting.

Taking the Train To Milan

It was 7:30 in the morning and the night before I had realised that my train ticket wasn’t valid for going from Florence to Milan. I figured that if I bought a ticket on the machine at the station it would be fine. However, these machines are very slow and the ticket set me back 56 euros. Apart from the steep ticket price, my journey to Milan was stress-free with views of the wonderful Italian countryside. 
When I first started planning out my backpacking trip, my dad wanted to meet me in Milan, so when I came out of the train station, I walked over to my dad’s guesthouse and we discussed about what to do in Milan. Before we went out to do anything, we of course had to get coffee and sit outside in the sunshine which my dad had been deprived of for so long. 

The Duomo

Once the coffees had us going, it was time to see some of Milan, the first place to see was of course the Duomo di Milano, it is one of the most famous sites in Milan and for good reason. It is the biggest church in Italy and it took six centuries to fully complete. It’s totally worth it to pay to go to the roof.

Not only can you appreciate the intricate spires on top of the church, there is also incredible views of Milan which shows you how big the city is. Furthermore, once we went back down that stairs into the main room of the church is very imposing. You can even see the crypt of the church and there’s explanations on the history of the church there. As you can see in the pictures, I am wearing my top inside-out. Before I was let in, I asked to reverse it bizarrely enough. Maybe he was worried about me getting attacked by some football fans. 

The Fanciest Shopping Centre in Milan

Right next to the church is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, it is very famous and I’m sure you will have heard of it before. It is essentially an incredibly fancy shopping centre, it’s not as big as your average shopping centre, but the decor and fanciness of the place is certainly impressive.

The place has Louis Vuitton, Prada, you name it, honestly I’m not crazy about high fashion and would never buy anything from these shops. I don’t travel to go to shopping centres as I have everything I need back home in Glasgow. Nearby, there is also a Ferrari store which is also pretty cool, however everything in that store seems to be super overpriced. 

When we were eating at the nearby McDonald’s we realised that we couldn’t get tickets online for a stadium tour of the San Siro and the Last Supper had been sold out. We decided that we’d go for a walk around the city and then stopped for some beers. Milan is a really nice city to walk around as the streets had been architecturally designed so that you are walking in the shade.

The Massive Cemetery

Our next stop was the Monumental Cemetery, I know that a place of the dead is not a tourist attraction, but if you’re going to be respectful it’s worth a visit. It’s also free of charge and the mausoleums are absolutely insane. Some of these memorials are like works of art and there are many tombs that are as big as houses. It really makes you think how much money has gone into some of them.

Watching the Champions League in Milan

When it was time to get something to eat, we found a decent place to get some carbonara and some beer. Nearby, we found a pub to watch the Champions League fixture, we both found it amusing that Tenant’s Super, a stronger version of the counterpart you find in Scotland. It seems to be found in every pub in Italy, the pub sold some merch with the logo on it and my dad decided to buy some T shirts as souvenirs.

Milan’s Sforza Castle

The next day, we went to see Sforza Castle, a historical citadel which is a short walk from the central shopping district. The castle is very impressive, however the heat makes it difficult to walk around, right next to the castle is Sempione park, which is a decent place to find some shade and has a simple and laid back vibe. Right at the end of the park is the Arco della Pace, which is a big archway marking the historical location of a Roman gate. 

Later on, my dad found a decent Italian restaurant for some dinner, it seemed that in Italy due to the pleasantly warm weather, it seems normal to eat outside that I have become used to doing so, eating outside is very much to the occasion on a day that they’re sure the tables wouldn’t get blown away from the wind.

As I had tried Milanese chicken from my favourite local Italian place I enjoyed frequenting back home, I wanted to try Milanese chicken in Milan, it was nice, however it was served to me without being battered. After enjoying an Italian meal, we decided to go to the same pub to watch the Champions League and have some beer, sadly that pub didn’t serve any Italian beer, but Belgian beer. 

My dad’s flight home was early in the morning, so I had to spend my last day in Milan on my own and carrying my backpack as I had to check out of my hostel. I took a look at the Duomo di Milano for another time and I had to say, the square is always teeming with pigeons and it’s really gross that some daft tourists even pose with them perched on their shoulders.

Walking through the City in Search of Pasta

There’s an AC Milan store in the main shopping street I decided take a look inside, but a simple home strip would set you back 90 euros, definitely a rip off! I took a walk around the city in search for a good place to get some pasta, a walk around the streets, I had noticed that it was almost completely empty. It felt like London without the crowds, I eventually found a really awesome pasta place way outside of the centre of Milan and boy it was probably some of the best pasta I ever had. If you want some awesome pasta check out Miscusi, a place where you can choose what kind of pasta you want and the sauce to go with it. 

My final thoughts on Milan is that it’s nowhere near as bad as people say it is, it’s not really a touristy city like Rome and there aren’t that many tourist attractions to see apart from the Duomo and the Galleria. Honestly, I would come back here if I got my hands on some tickets to see AC Milan at the legendary San Siro.

One plaudit I give to Milan, is that it’s the city with the best public transport in Italy, the metro is useful and cheap and there are also really cool streetcars. What I’d say about Milan is that it feels like the Italian version of London, it’s the financial centre as you can see the skyscrapers belonging to banks, it also feels very international as the area where my hostel was had Asian supermarkets and Chinese restaurants. Basically if you’re going to Italy it might be worth it to spend one or two days here as it is near Bergamo airport, however it does not compare to Florence or Rome. 

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