My Take On Milan

I’m back from my first visit to Milan and Italy. The impressions I’m left with it that I have to go back and that I have to have more time. The city, the shopping, the food was simply an amazing experience. Here are some of my thoughts and recommendations:

Eat:
As the pasta addict I am, I was very excited about visiting Milan and Italy for the first time and trying out all their famous pasta cousins. Below I’ve listed some of the dinning places I visited during my stay and my experiences with them.

  • The Kitchen (Via Scarlatti, 7)

Good: Tasty and inexpensive food in a family friendly venue with free Wi-Fi. I think we ended up paying 25 euros for bread and tomatoes, two main dishes, a wine carafe (500ml for 5 euros – a bargain for Norwegians!) and some sweets for dessert.
Bad: Nothing really, but might be a little “touristy” as we ended up next to two Swedish backpackers and several English speaking families.

  • Papermoon (Via Bagutta, 1)

Good: Tasty first course and dessert.
Bad: Unfriendly staff ( I got the feeling they did not like drop-in tourists, even if the venue was less than half full the whole evening) that didn’t give more than the minimum of attention required. As this was a somewhat expensive place, I expected that waiter would present the menu and the dishes and recommend wine but that did not happen.

  • Obika Mozzarella Bar (Piazza del Duomo, 3)

Good: Rich menu, affordable prices and with its location, on the top of the department store La Rinascente, it gives you a perfect overview of the magnificent Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano). The taste-of-three dessert (Ricotta di Bufala Mousse, Tiramisù Chocolate and Almond Cake) is delicious!
Bad: I expect this is a very crowded place in the tourist season, but for an off-season visit it was great. Also quite “touristy”, the couple at the table next to us were Norwegians as well.

Shopping:
Where to go shopping in Milan? I have to say – EVERYWHERE! I found that almost everywhere I turned there was a shopping street, a mall or at least one shop I had to check out.

  • La Rinascente, Piazza del Duomo, 3 ( Subway stop: Duomo)

Large (8 floors) department store located right next to Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano). High-end brands and designers mostly. Nice food court on the top floor.

  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II ( Subway stop: Duomo)

To be fair, I did not do much shopping here ( my shopping budget did not contain a big post for goodies from Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton), but just admiring the stores, the high sealing, golden decor and mosaic floor makes it worth visiting.

  • Excelsior, Galleria del Corso, 4 (Subway stop: Duomo or San Babila)

Free Wi-Fi, a big gadgets department on the first floor, a coctail bar, modern art on the walls and shoes from Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin makes this my favourite department store in Milan. A visit here is highly recommended!

  • Corso Buenos Aires (Subway stop: Porta Venezia, Lima or Loreto)

If you’re tired of the high end stores (or, like me, have a modest shopping budget), check out Corso Buenos Aires. It’s one of the biggest shopping streets in Milan, and was very conveniently located just a few minutes’ walk from my hotel, contains most mainstream brands and stores such as H&M, Footlocker and Nike and a lot of Italian brands as well.

I recommend a visit to Kiko Make Up Milan (located close to the Porta Venezia Subway stop), for nail polish in every color thinkable at 3,60 euro.

Outlets:
With all the high-end designers, stores and brands present, Milan is also known for its many factory outlets and discount stores. Many of them are even located within the city center, close to the main shopping areas. Here is a list of some of the outlets I visited:

  • Diecidecimi Spazimoda, Corso Buenos Aires, 36 ( Subway stop: Lima)

Brands I spotted: D&G, Armani, Valentino Red, Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren and Just Cavelli among others at 30 – 50 % off.

  • Dmagazine, Via Montenapoleone 26 (Subway stop: Montenapoleone , also a short walk from Duomo)

Brands I spotted: Marc Jacobs, Jimmy Choo, D&G, Stella McCartney, Prada, and many more at 30% to 70% off. A big selection of shoes. Small venue, so it gets crowded!

  • KiloFascion, Via Bagetta (Subway stop: San Babila)

At KiloFascion the weight of the item determines its price (the items are categorized as either good- better – best and this also effects the prices). I was quite fascinated by the concept at first, but after a closer look I found that I preferred set prices over constantly going back and forth to the weights and checking the items up against their category and weight.

Brands I spotted: Gant, Ralph Lauren, D&G (shoes), Just Cavalli. Kids clothing from about 10 euro.

See:
Looking back at my Milan visit, I’m sad to say I did not manage to see many great sights (shopping and dining took up most of my time it seems). The only sightseeing was done while walking around looking for shops, outlets and dining places. I did manage to get a close look at Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano) and buy my standard souvenir ( a snow globe with famous sights from the city), but next time (I’ll be back for sure) I also want to visit the Brera Art Gallery and Santa Maria delle Grazie, see a AC Milan match ( they were out of town this time) and take a trip to one of the many lakes located right outside the city.

Some practicalities:
- Free Wi-Fi is offered on several café’s and stores (giving me some sweet Foursquare points ;) )
- Credit card is accepted throughout the city (I did not come across any places that didn’t accept card payment)
- The subway is a great means of transportation within the city centre, with frequent departures and information in English.
- English: Everyone I meet understood and spoke English quite well ( I mainly talked to people working in the service- and tourist industry though).

Please bare in mind that this is my personal experience and opinion based on only a couple of days in Milan. I’m sure I missed MANY great places, and would be very grateful for other recommendations. Have you been to Milan? What did you see and do? Where would you recommend dining for the most authentic Italian taste and atmosphere?

For more pictures from my trip to Milan, check out my Pinterest board: http://pinterest.com/mariannemixi/my-trip-to-milan-italy/

Pinterest Traveling Inspiration

On April 1st I’m going to Milan for the first time (in fact, first visit to Italy at all). This is a place I’ve been wanting to go for some time now, so I’m super excited!

Before going some place new I like to plan ahead, get really in to all the sites, must-sees, and activities offered. Usually this means buying a travel book and searching online, this time it also includes Pinterest. Yesterday I started a board for Milan and begun the pinning – buildings – food – people on the streets of Milan (or at least what I believe to be Milan ;) ) and so on was pinned to this board:

Thanks to Pinterest and its users, I was able to get a glance at people’s own vacation pictures from Milan and pictures taken by people living there, and from the looks of it – Milan is a very beautiful city! :)

I’m still on the look-out for must-see spots and most-do activities in Milan. Have you been there? Let me know what you think, what you did and what I cannot miss!

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