Sunday, 9 June 2013

Milan Darling, Milan!

On my first visit to vivacious fashion capital Milan, Jade and I had the fortunate pleasure of arriving to pouring rain in the decidedly more suspicious evening light suffering an exhaustion that is known all too well by long haul travellers. We had also just come from a disappointing experience in Pisa (A word to the wise, use a map to find the leaning tower or you might end up wandering the streets of this small town lost and a bit stressed, consequently leaving without having actually seen said tower). This combination is never a good one when discovering a city for the first time... Nor any subsequent time after that really... But fortunately by this stage our sheer laziness had taught us that it was easiest to stay at hotels around the main train station and we only had to schlep our bags (numbering five by this stage thanks to Jade's penchant for shopping) a short way.

This time around was my second visit and thankfully the weather upon arrival was lovely and mild. In my mind, because I had graced the pavement of this fair city once already, I was a seasoned Milano expert (insert sarcastic rolling of the eyes) so I boldly traipsed mapless through the streets, suitcase tumbling begrudgingly behind. To be fair I did basically know my way around the city and I was feeling quite well versed in the Italian way of life at this point, so my confidence was not all together misplaced. Once again our chosen accommodation was as near to the beautiful station as I could get so that there was minimal lugging. Side note here, The main station of Milano Centrale is actually quite magnificent to look at and I suggest you take time to look back as you traverse to your hotel, you might even like to take a picture or two (weather permitting).

My visit consisted of only mild sightseeing and focused more on activities like eating, drinking and shopping, with only a fleeting visit to La Scala and Il Duomo mixed in for cultural good measure. We didn't catch the Last Supper as it was completely booked out and we hadn't had the forethought to book this earlier in the week. But, perhaps most importantly, I did manage to catch a panzerotti at my favourite Milanese panzerotti house Luini's (let's be honest it's the only one I've been too, But it is really good)... This leads me too...

Shanwah's tasty tip: Luini's is a small delicatessen style eatery specialising in what is possibly Milan's best cultural export... Panzerotti! These flavorsome morsels are small half moon shaped savory pastries filled with various forms of deliciousness... Imagine a calzone, now make it smaller and tastier! Although Panzerotti aren't strictly Milanese, Luini's has made such an impact that they've been somewhat adopted as such. I actually insist (unless dairy or gluten aren't your friends) that you drop in for a visit and try this traditional fare, go for the cheese and tomato version to begin with and then let loose on one of the other countless taste sensations!

The stunning Gallerie Vittorio Emanuele II! The world's oldest shopping mall and possibly the prettiest too! One entrance leads into Milan's main Piazza and Il Duomo, one to La Scala Opera house and another to Luini's Panzerotti! Make sure to take a spin on the mosaic bull's testicles in the centre of the mall for luck!

Milan is definitely the fashion capital of the world, and it is quite evident from first glance that it is very different to other Italian cities, but I don't think people actually realise how interesting a city it really is. Those who do visit tend to only stay long enough to see the Last Supper or to relieve themselves of a few Euro at the shopping streets before disappearing to Florence or Rome, upsettingly I think most people feel it is void of traditional Italian culture and as a result it is left off most Italian itineraries. What we need to remember is that the cultural city of Milano was here long before the skyscrapers and there are plenty of enriching experiences smattering the Milanese sidewalk. I have decided to take some time to prove to the naysayers that there is much more to see and experience in Milano... so heres what I'm going to do! With a bit of research and some fortunate fieldwork, I am creating a sightseeing playlist that I think showcases some of the great things Milan has to offer in a short three night stay (come on you can handle at least three nights right!?)...

So stay tuned...

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