6th of September, 2016 – First day in Milan

So we stayed the night at one of my 3 friends houses that were going on the trip. We got up at 3-something AM, ready to get to Stanstead Airport in time for our 8.45am flight. When we were booking the trip flights were a lot cheaper from Stanstead, so whilst it was a bit of a faff and added to the journey time, we saved about £100 each this way.

We had checked in online so we went straight through to security and then went to H+H for breakfast – I had a lovely pot of porridge.

At Milan Malpensa Airport we took an €8 shuttle bus to Milano Centrale. From there we took a Metro to the Duomo and walked towards our apartment.

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Our apartment on Via Torino found on AirBnB. This is the first time I had used Airbnb, and it was not without faults, but I was impressed overall, especially for the price.

Positives:

  • Great location – on Via Torino, a couple of minutes walk from the Duomo, Duomo Metro, Galleria etc
  • Shopping – Va Torino seemed to be the main highstreet full of fashion shops, chains, cafes, a pharmacy. This was handy a couple of time because we had to get something from the pharmacy and it meant we could quickly grab a coffee in the morning or lunch when we just arrived in the city
  • Cheap (£88 per night, which worked out at only £22 each per night or £66 for the entire trip as we stayed 3 nights)
  • Clean
  • Well equipped – Came with towels, sheets, glasses, cutlery, all kitchen utensils

Issues:

  • Capacity – It was originally listed for 4 people but we noticed a few days before our trip that this had been changed to say ‘3-4 people’. There was a large double bed and a leather sofa that certainly could not fit 2 people and was really uncomfortable. There are ridges in it and it’s very hard. However, that being said when we contacted them on Wednesday morning, they responded quickly and had a camp bed with a mattress delivered that evening, so that was impressive.
  • Noisy – the great location means there are cars and trams going past the front door at all hours. Also there is a church nearby that chimes for a long while at 7am and a couple of other points throughout the day which is a bit disruptive.
  • Light – there were not proper curtains, only mesh ones so in the living room/where the sofa and camp bed was, light was always streaming in
  • Check in/out – Unlike with a hotel when they say check out at 12pm it really means it and there is no opportunity for storing luggage so like us if you have a later flight it means you have to carry the luggage around the city which kind of limits what you can do on the last day

We went to this place opposite our apartment called ‘Eat Me & Go‘ which serves ice creams, wraps, sandwiches, open sandwiches, salad etc. I had an open caprese sandwich (passata, tomato, olives, spinach, mozzarella) which was €6, very filling and a good initial taste of Italian food. Another time I tried their Cappuccino ice-cream which was lovely!

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Sforza Castle, Milan

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On reflection I think the Sforza Castle was one of the best bits of the trip. It is really beautiful from the outside on approach with the water fountain, but you just don’t expect it to be so big when you go through. The shadows are beautiful as well as the warm colour scheme and patterns of suns on the ceilings.

It was built in the 15th century by the Duke of Milan, and has since been enlarged, making it on of the largest citadels in Europe. The castle has a quadrangular plan, site across the city’s walls. The wall which once faced the countryside north to Milan has square towers and has an ogival gate. This was once accessed through a drawbridge.

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Pasticceria Marchesi, one of Milan’s most iconic cafes, was founded almost 200 years ago, starting out as a small bakery in 1824. It is now more of a modern patisserie; I would describe it as an Italian version of Laudree, that I visited in Paris (read Paris post for more details).

I had a Marocchino because I had never seen it on a menu anywhere else, and as I love coffee I couldn’t resist. By the way it is pronounced ma-ro-key-no, just to prevent you all from making the same mistake as me – pronouncing it similarly to cappuccino and getting corrected by the immaculate  staff. It is quite pricy in there, so we just went for a coffee each, just to feel fancy and step out of the student zone.

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Walking past the Duomo on the way to dinner

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Dinner was at a place called Dry that I found had really good reviews online. It is really dark and trendy in there with everyone sitting on high stalls at benches. They gave us some crispy bread, olives and water as we looked at the menu. I had a glass of white wine and a pizza with mozzarella, tomato, zucchini and eggplant (or courgette and aubergine in English).

I throughly enjoyed the atmosphere and the sourdough pizza was lovely. Two of my friends ordered the blackberry cocktail which they really wouldn’t recommend because it was extremely minty, tasting similar to toothpaste.

We then stopped off at a supermarket on the walk home to get some fruit and a few bits for the apartment and to take home.

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Day 1 on the map
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