After the stop of some hours in Pisa, we continue our journey towards Milan. The city is the second largest in Italy, only losing to Rome. There are just over 3.6 million inhabitants in the Milan metropolitan area.
The road from Pisa to Milan was quiet and we were communicating with the person from Airbnb, from where we had rented an apartment, as part of the family from Brazil would meet us there and we would continue our journey in 9 people. We thought it was more advantageous to rent an apartment, which had 3 rooms.
Traveling with large groups…
We chose to go around Milan using public transportation (metro), even with a group of 9 people. We chose an Airbnb that was close to a station, as we usually do if we have plans to use the subway.
Our 10 main attractions in Milan
Our 2-day tour in Milan was very flexible, counting that we had 3 children (2x 2 years and 1x 6 years) and I was 16 weeks pregnant. We didn’t run too much, we didn’t do any guided tours and we only enjoyed some sightseeing spots that we decided before leaving the apartment.
1. DUOMO DI MILANO
No introductions needed, as the Duomo in Milan is known around the world and it is indeed, really impressive.
The cathedral took almost six centuries to complete. It is the largest church in Italy, the third largest in Europe and the fifth largest in the world.
We bought the tickets the same day, in person, in a building around the cathedral (buildings on the right side). See the official website of the Duomo of Milan here.
2. Piazza del Duomo
The world famous Piazza del Duomo is the square that lies just in front of Milan’s Gothic cathedral and also where the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II can be reached.
In addition, there are several cafés, restaurants and shops around the square, as well as in the Gallery. I found the atmosphere quite nice, despite the large number of tourists in the place.
3. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The gallery is filled with well-known brands and very glamorous shops, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the oldest shopping mall in Italy, open since 1877.
You’ll find several fancy shops, cafes and restaurants there. What I liked the most, however, was the structure and the glass ceiling, which really impressed me. The mall is open to the public, there are no tickets and no schedules (for the mall, for individual stores, check on their websites).
We had lunch at a restaurant in a building next to Vittorio Emanuele II, called Gino’s 1928. It is not a pearl of Italian cuisine, but it is a very big place, had kids menu and had several tables and accepted our big group (9 people – which was not every place that accepted. So we recommend it!
4. Santa Maria delle Grazie
The church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (Church of Holy Mary of Grace) is about 1.8km from the Duomo, so if you want to feel a bit of the atmosphere of Milan, it’s a very “easy” get there if you enjoy walking.
Besides the church being a UNESCO heritage site, it is also there where the painting The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci is located, nothing more, nothing less, than in the church’s dining room.
Well, actually it’s in this building attached to the “chiesa” in the photo above, called Cenacolo Vinciano. The official ticket website is this one.
But of course, you can only visit with a guided tour (small group at a time) and getting tickets is a tough competition. We didn’t buy in advance (you can check dates and times to book, in this link) and with 3 small children, we only enter the church briefly (there was a mass going at that time) and let the children run in front. Very easy going!
5. Parco Sempione
Milan’s biggest park is called Sempione (Sempione Park), inaugurated in 1888, which was good surprise, as we passed through it without any major expectations.
There are trails, playgrounds, coffee shop and it ended up being a very nice walk, one of those to disconnect and let the children spend the accumulated energy.
Inside the park (or surroundings) there are two more tourist points that we had in our list, Castello Sforzenco and Arco della Pace, but we found out that there was also an aquarium (Acquario Civico di Milano) among other things that we couldn’t visit this time.
6. Castello Sforzenco
Sforzenco Castle is inside Sempione Park, which I mentioned above. The visit to the open areas of the castle is free and usually from 7 to 19:30 (but always check their website before going, so you don’t waste your trip).
In the castle, which was built in the 15th century, there is also a museum with several works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and other important Italian artists. The Musei del Castello is not free and you can find out more about the tickets here.
7. Arco della Pace
The Arco della Pace (Peace Arch) is at one end of the Parco Sempione and is very reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It is a great background for photos!
8. Chiesa di San Gottardo in Corte
We don’t have many pictures of this church, because the visit was totally unexpected (we didn’t even know it existed. The one you pass in front of and decide entering, without even knowing the name.
We loved that it was pretty empty and the rosy tone inside was really magical!
9. Teatro alla Scala
Another tourist point that we only pass in front of, it was the Teatro alla Scala (where there are several events, opera and shows) in Milan and it has been running since 1778. So it has a lot of prestige, besides the building itself, being very iconic.
10. Quadrilatero della Moda
For those who enjoy glamour and shopping, besides the Galeria Vittorio Emanuele II, the street Monte Napoleone and others in the region also have several great fashion brands, boutiques, car shops and others. The area is called Quadrilatero della Moda, because it is really the heart of Milan’s haute couture and fashion.
Next stop will be the beautiful Venice, which we arrive by train, direct from Milan. Stay tuned for the next European Tour 2017 series.