I am still in the midst of my week of travel, but I finally have a bit of down time to catch up on my weekend before continuing on my adventure.
Only two weeks after my weekend in Rome, I spent a few days in Milan, and I am so glad I chose to do that. It had taken me a while to find someone looking for a travel buddy for only the first three days of break, as I knew I’d be with Emma beginning on Monday. Most people traveled with the same friends throughout the whole week, or they met up with friends from school. Adina and Goldie’s families visited. Luckily, I found Natalie, who is in my core course. We flew together from Copenhagen to Milan, and we parted our separate ways on Monday—I went to Spain, and she went further south in Italy to Florence.
We arrived on Saturday afternoon after a very smooth flight to Milan, and we exited the airport surprisingly quickly. Booking a shuttle to our hotel was expensive, but for a huge city like Milan, it was super nice to be able to meet a man that had our names on a sign, who could drive us safely to our destination. We arrived at the hotel just before dinner, dropping our stuff off quickly before trying to catch a sunset behind the Milan Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo, the most famous site in Milan. Unfortunately, we missed sunset by a few minutes, but the view at dusk wasn’t too bad. We took our time walking to dinner, as our reservation was not until 8:00. We walked past the Brera district and did some window-shopping; it was a cute area filled with people sitting for dinner and drinks.
Finally, it was the moment I’d been waiting for: ordering pizza at Mama Eat in Milan. I had been looking forward to the dinner reservation since eating in the Rome location, and I was very glad that my meal lived up to my high expectations. I got a different kind of pizza this time, and Natalie got a non-gluten-free pizza, which she said was delicious. I was happily full, and we walked back to the hotel, deciding that we needed a good night’s sleep for our long day of sight-seeing ahead of us. Natalie was so sweet about going way out of our way to have a meal at Mama Eat, and I’m glad that she liked it, too.
On Sunday morning, we woke up early, knowing that we needed to seize the one beautiful day in that weekend’s forecast. Learning from my previous mistake in planning an itinerary for Rome, I spent a few hours making our own walking tour of Milan, marking sights to see based on their location within the city. This was a great tactic, as we were able to pack in so many more sights in just one day. I will definitely make the time to do this for my other trips. Traveling smartly takes work!
Our first stop was breakfast on the Piazza del Duomo, which we ate in the sun. It was so nice not to be mobbed by tourists, as we had been the day before. Getting an early start was a good call. We got fruit and coffee at one of the vendors. Unfortunately, the place did not have gluten-free croissants, so I ate my bar. After walking around all sides of the Milan Cathedral, taking pictures of it in the daylight, we headed to the next destination: Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This was an area enclosed by glass walls and many high-end stores and restaurants, and it was beautiful to walk around. We decided that we would spend time there the next day when it was supposed to rain.
On our way to Castello Sforzesco, we stopped in a random store to do some shopping, and I was so tempted to purchase a leather jacket on the spot, but I didn’t want to hold it the entire day, especially since the weather was so warm. We decided that we would come back to look more closely at it later. Castello Sforzesco was an enormous property, and we visited the various statues and read their plaques, learning that one part of the castle housed the Austrian Troops during the Spanish occupation and that one statue had a defensive function.
We walked towards Santa Maria delle Grazie, and we passed a chocolate-tasting shop on the way, deciding it was a perfect time for a mid-morning snack. Because it was Sunday, there were actually church services going on inside the Santa Maria building, but there was still a tourist area we could view inside. It was beautiful.
Next on the list was the Torre Branca, another famous landmark within Parco Sempione. After taking a few pictures, an amusement park within the actual park caught our eyes, so we went to check it out. It was kind of like Tivoli in the sense that it was a huge amusement park in the middle of a metropolitan area, although we got the feeling that it was open for some special occasion. We ended up doing a little rollercoaster, which only cost a few euros, and we spent time walking around the ponds in the park as well. It was a really pretty area.
It was 1:00 and we were getting hungry for lunch, but we really wanted to eat along the canal, as we heard there were dozens of restaurants there. It was a pretty long and hot walk, but it was totally worth it. We didn’t know where we should eat! All the food we passed looked so yummy. We settled on a place called Prima, where I got some potato dish and a vegetable dish, both appetizers. They had gluten-free pasta, but I wasn’t in the mood. Afterward, we went to a gelato store that had gluten-free cones, so that was exciting. We spent a while walking around the canal area with our ice cream; the weather at that point was unbelievable.
Continuing on our walking tour, we headed for the Basilica di San Lorenzo. On the way, we passed a stand where you could get Aperol spritzes for only three euros—a bargain. Those were yummy and summery. We spent some time on the Piazza Sant’Ambrogio as well. We decided we needed to rest a bit before heading to dinner, but we first stopped back at the store we saw earlier. I tried on the leather jacket once again, and I just did not love the way it fit. Even though it wasn’t super expensive, and this was surprising for Milan, I decided not to settle. We spent some time in our hotel room, took a short nap, and got ready for the evening.
We ate dinner at a delicious restaurant called Be Bop Ristorante, which had also crossed my suggestions for gluten-free options. The menu was entirely gluten-free. The two of us ordered way too much food (no one warned us about the portions at this place), but nothing was short of phenomenal. I ended up getting a fried calamari and seafood dish as my main meal. We spent a few hours at the restaurant, and Natalie and I had a fun time talking about college/home/school, and getting to know each other more. We had discussed the possibility of going to a bar, but after deciding we needed to be at the Milan Cathedral when it opened at 9 a.m. (both to avoid the crowds and the afternoon’s rainy weather), we went home instead.
Climbing to the top of the cathedral was definitely one of my favorite things we did the whole weekend. Natalie and I got tickets ahead of time, and we got the ones where we could climb the stairs all the way to the top. The view was incredible, and it was cool to walk around on top of a roof. We also were able to walk around the sanctuary itself, tour the basement/ruins area, and use binoculars to look at all the intricate designs on top of the cathedral’s pillars.
Next, we headed for brunch at Glu Free bakery, an entirely gluten-free dedicated kitchen. I wanted to buy out the entire store, but I settled on a rice ball/croquet type of thing with mozz, ricotta, and spinach. I also got a cannoli because gluten-free ones are rare, and it was very good. We knew the art gallery would be closed on a Monday, but we walked around the perimeter of Pinacoteca di Brera anyway. We still got to see some of the sculptures. On the way there, I saw another cute-looking leather jacket, and this ended up being the one! I am so happy that I waited until then to buy one, and I can’t wait to wear it around Europe.
It was pouring at that point, and we decided to walk around the higher-end stores in an area known as the Golden Triangle. We wandered into stores such as Prada and Chanelle, pretending we had the money to spend on coin purses for 850 euros. We amused ourselves by guessing the prices of various items, which was funny, as we were always incredibly out of range. We also went back to Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and walked into those stores, where I was able to buy a postcard of the Duomo. Since we were tired of walking and it was raining so hard anyway, we stopped for coffee at Pasticceria Marchesi, an extremely fancy dessert shop, where you have to pay even to sit at their tables. Everything in the café is green and pink. I got hot chocolate that was as rich as drinking hot fudge—so yummy.
We ran across the street to the opera house (the rain was still coming down) to try and get tickets for a tour, but it was closed on Mondays, unfortunately. Then, we went back to our hotel so our clothes could dry for a little before heading to the airport.