Monday, June 08, 2015

Italy 2015: Milano Logistics

Milano is a super modern city and it was the polar opposite of Roma, which I visited in 2009 but I'm sure has just gotten more touristy and unbearable since then. Don't get me wrong, Roma is beautiful and full of history but it's also crammed full of tourists, which to me, takes away from its charm.

Milano, however, is sleek, clean, and modern and of course, it's a shopping addict's dream.
We had the luxury of spending our last two days of our Italy holiday in this charming little city and despite my own preconception that I wouldn't enjoy myself, I was happily mistaken and I had a great time.

GETTING THERE
Milano is v. accessible. There are three airports servicing the city: Malpensa, Bergamo, and Linate. And guys, I have to say, when you're flying out of these airports, get there super early. For one, the lines to check into the flight can be annoyingly long. Secondly, you have to queue up to have your airline ticket scanned before you can subsequently queue up to go through security. Once you've walked half a mile through the airport, you have to queue up again to go through passport control. It's a whole lot of queuing and it can take hours to get through. Unfortunately for us, we missed our original train because some a-hole ticket agent told us the wrong platform so instead of being 2 hours early to the airport, we had about 1 hour to check our bags and then run through the airport. It was insanity.

From these airports, the city is quite easily accessible. From Malpensa, there is a €12 train that will take you right to Milano Centrale train station. From Bergamo and Linate, there are €5 buses that will take you right to Milano Centrale.

If you're not keen on flying in direct, there are several train routes that will bring you to, you guessed it, Milano Centrale.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at the AC Milano for a few reasons. One, it's affiliated with Marriott and I had some points left to use up so it was free. Secondly, it was right next to the Garibaldi Train Station, which was nice and convenient for heading back to the airport.
It was a pretty, clean, and really flash hotel, which I appreciated. However, I didn't get the cloyingly sweet Marriott Elite treatment that I normally do, so I was a bit peeved. It was especially annoying because it was the last time I'd probably ever be platinum elite in my lifetime (unless I manage to accrue 50+ nights at a Marriott hotel in a year ever again).

I did fall in love with the bath though. It skeeves me out to a degree to bathe in a bathtub that's not mine and hasn't been personally cleaned by me. However, the tub was super deep and comfortable and amazing so I couldn't resist a bubble bath.
GETTING AROUND
Milan has an awesome public transportation system consisting of an underground metro and above ground trams and buses. It's super easy to use and there's a day pass (unlimited rides in 24 hours) for €4.50, which is awesome considering a single ride is €1.50. Milan is also an easily walkable city, as it's really flat and the roads are nicely paved and there isn't much cobblestone to contend with. The last option I recommend is the bike share. You're required to sign up online (you can't just walk up to the station kiosk and shove in a credit card) so that's a little annoying, but you can just plan ahead.

Of course, travel via car is also an option but really, it's not a great option. I don't recommend renting a car to use around the city, as parking is difficult to find and can be expensive and traffic is rather annoying. Taking taxis can be useful but I'd only resort to cabs in the evening when public transportation is no longer an option.

DO, SEE, & EAT
Despite being a city, there isn't an overwhelming amount of stuff to do here, which to me is a relief. I get stressed out when there's too high a concentration of sights because I feel pressured to see them all. However, that doesn't mean that Milan's tourist spots are sparse by any means. There are several amazing churches to visit, including the famous Duomo, Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio, and Santa Maria del Presso. Be sure to be respectful and wear the appropriate clothing, or you may be denied entry. Basically, your knees and shoulders should be covered and ladies, make sure your cleavage is well-contained.

There's also the Castello Sforzesco and several museums if you're into art and history. There's a little of everything here.
Milan is known for its shopping so if you've got money to burn, hit the shops. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is a fantastic option if you're looking for a mall-like situation. Via della Spiga and Via Montenapoleone are great options if you're rich or just really into window shopping.
As far as food goes, I think the risotto Milanese is a must-eat. It gets its beautiful yellow color from saffron and it tastes amazing.
Aperitivo is also a fun experience in any major Italian city. Basically, you go and order an overpriced drink and then get some free food. The quality of the booze and food will vary depending on the venue.
Milan is a lovely city and I can't wait to share my photo diary!
xoxo.

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