My 48 hours in Milano

48 hours in Milano

The city: Milan, Italy. The capital of big brand names. Prada, Gucci, Ferragamo - you name it.

My mission: to enjoy a 48 hours of self-indulgence, sightseeing tour of historic sites, experiencing Milan on a short time span. Not too arduous an assignment, admittedly, but there is a catch. I have to do it all on a strict budget €200. As Milan is one of the top 10 most expensive cities in the world, that kind of budget can barely get you nowhere, not even one the first day. 

Or so I thought.. 

First on the agenda, the flight fare. Two weeks prior to flight, I was still unsure whether to go or not. However, I was in luck. Ryanair had tickets from Bristol to Milan for £26 return including taxes. After much consideration, I opted to buy immediately.

Next, accommodation. This I have to say, was a tricky one. I'm really picky when it comes to a place to stay at. Even at friends' places, I've to admit. I wanted something 'right' (safe area, comfortable and clean), without damaging my wallet. After a brief moments of review-reading, researching locations and price, I opted for a '1 Star' hotel situated nearby Loreto Metro stop, at Via Porpora called 'Ca Grade Hotel'. For €30 per night, with decent reviews you can't complain. Immediately, I clicked the 'book' tab. From there, I was ready.

Overseeing the Alps en route to Milan
Upon arrival in Milan and consequently the hotel, the reality of the hotel didn't quite live up to the photos posted at Hostelworld. The faded glamour is a little too faded and the murky bedrooms put the 'old' rather than the 'fashion' into old-fashioned. It has the little garden as shown in the photos, a free wifi internet as stated and a pretty decent walk from the Metro station as one reviewer had stated. However, what they all failed to mention was the fact that there's a €10 per day for the usage of air conditioner, or the fact that the room was equipped with a sink and a bidet (which was weird for me. Not really comfortable sleeping next to a de facto toilet). But since everything was done and dealt with, I had to make do. Afterall I was only for 48 hours. A brief wash and rest, I was ready to explore this historic city.

Milano Central Station

Getting back on my point on Milan being one of the most expensive cities in the world, I realised that some aspects of that statement aren't really true. Whilst shopping and food may be expensive (obviously depends on the things you shop and food you eat), transport however is relatively cheap. For a mere €8.25, you can get a 48 hours metro pass. With it, you can use the Metro, trams and buses. That's a great deal!

So one the first day I opted to familiarize myself on getting around Milan. Searched for halal food places and all that. I went to Milan's main attraction, the Duomo di Milano, a famous Cathedral that apparently took about six long centuries for them to build. It was majestic and truly breath-taking, even for a muslim like me. The sheer size and gothic architecture were just splendid! Next to it was Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a magnificently sparkly glass-roofed arcade, which houses the big brand names like Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton as well as the poshest McDonald I had ever been to. Contrary to one's beliefs, Vittorio Emanuele is sort of like an arcade, and not a shopping mall.


Exterior of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Inside of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II


Part of my familiarizing process was understanding the transport line, including the buses and trams. So I randomly picked a certain bus or tram number and rode them. Prior on my research about the Milano transport system, none of the reviewers or travel sites provided a definitive tip or understanding on the buses and trams system here, so initially I was a bit vague on how the whole things work. However, once I grasped everything, it was fairly straight forward and quite easy to use. 

By 8pm I called it a day rested for a long day tomorrow.

I started my day early on the second day. By 7 I was already out on the streets, preparing for breakfast. But as I had come to know, the day was too early as only cafes were open. In the end I wandered around the Duomo and settled at a small cafe by the streets. Tried the infamous Milano cappuccino for brekkie.
Italian Cappuccino

By 9.30am, when most of the shops and attractions were opened, I began my adventure around Milan, beginning with Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, browsing the areas around these two attractions. As I walked and an time or two losing my sense of direction, I suddenly stumbled upon a huge monument/building along the horizon and realised it was the infamous Castello Sforzesco, a castle that used to be the residence of the Duchy of Milan that is just a quick walk from the Duomo up the great Via Dante. Officially restored in 2005, the authorities did a great job preserving this 14th century castle. Inside is a collection of a number of museums and galleries (I did not go in, unfortunately). What's famous about this castle are paintings by Leonardo da Vinci painted on the castle's ceilings that are still well survived. Behind the castle you could enjoy a stroll in the Parco Sempione. All in all, the size and magnificence of the castle are truely an exhibition of the Sforza power in Milan.

Castello Sforzesco from afar

Castello Sforzesco

Up next was a monastery called San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore situated at Corso Magenta. Inside, the monastery houses a great deal of frescoes painted in the 15th and 16th century. Next to it, was Museo Archeologico. From there I started for Santa Maria Presso di San Satiro, a 9th century Church. Like San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, San Satiro houses various frescoes consisting of Byzantine frescoes and other works of art. Apparently, Leonardo Da Vincci had contributed to the reconstruction of this Church in the 15th century. I love going to these kind of places; their histories and famous important people having a name in it contributing and what not, and the paintings and frescoes, especially from these era, where religious influences were visible.

Inside Santa Maria Presso di San Satiro

San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore

By this time, it was noon, and I opted for lunch. I have to say, finding a place to wat halal food was difficult initially, but with sheer luck and a sharp pair of eyes, I stumbled upon a Halal sign along the Corso Buenos Aires just outside Lima Metro station. Ordered chicken with rice (not sure what or where the cuisine was from, but it looked like egyptian?) and enjoyed it especially the with generous portion and price (cost me €5.30 and came with free bottled drink as opposed to €5.90 for a fillet-o-fish with no drink at McD). After a short rest, I opted for Italia Missori to go to Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan's main and largest higher learning and academic institution (Coincidentally, there was an open day going on there so I did my fair share of pretending to be interested in enrolling. LOL). I like the whole vibe of the University, its situated exactly in the city, the kind of environment that I like myself to be in. I noticed that the streets around the university were very hip and alive, very student friendly.

Inside of Università degli Studi di Milano

By the time I was done strolling around, I opted back for Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, to try out the Gucci Cafe (yes, as in the Gucci of handbags), aptly located just next to the Gucci store.

Cafe Gucci
Most expensive Menu shall I say?

As it was really warm and humid in Milan (about 29°C), I was really in need of a cool beverage, so there I requested iced coffee. Unfortunately my demand came out negatively from the breezy but faintly passive-aggressive manner concealed gentleman-waiter. I guess its true with what people say about Italians and coffee, thou shalt not muck around with coffee. Stick with the basics, and by that I mean cappuccino, caffé latte and latte macchiato. In this part of the world, where coffee is so much a part of Italian culture that the idea of not drinking it is as foreign as the idea of having to explain its rituals, frappucino or iced coffee is alien (which explains why Starbucks or Coffee Bean is non-existent). The waiter instead advised me to try out a caffe shakerato: a combination of espresso, liquid sugar, vanilla syrup and ice - all shaken, not stirred as the expression goes. Nothing like cold caffiene to beat the summer doldrums. Worth to note, its one of the expensive coffees I have ever had to date, cost me €10 including tip.

My Caffe Shakerato

From Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, I started for Montenapoleone, the Oxford Street, Fifth Avenue, Orchard Road and Champs-Élysées of Milan. The streets along Montenapoleone houses various brand names from around the world, but obviously the attention is focused more on famous Italian brands. The one that stood out for me was Armani/Manzoni.

When you thinking Armani, usually you'll be thinking about jeans, but here its more than that. The building encompassed almost everything on an individual's lifestyle practically in Armani: Armani caffe (Armani's very own cafe house), an Armani bookstore, an Armani restaurant, an Armani hotel, et cetera  and et cetera. Its nothing that I had ever seen before, basically.

Emporio Armani Caffe

From Montenapoleone I walked back to Duomo to the other side at Via Torino where high street labels like Zara, Pull & Bear and United Colors of Benetton are situated. By the time I was done, it was already 8pm, so I headed back to the hotel.

The next morning I started early. By 10am I checked out and headed to the Central Station for my 1pm flight. At about 10.30am I was off from Milan to Bergamo airport which takes about 1 hour bus ride. Milan, in my end note, is an interesting place. Although I have to admit, 48 hours aren't enough even for a season urban traveller or anyone for that matter. There will always be a lot more to see.  San Siro, the Last Supper, Lake Como and Brera to name a few, all missed out due to time constraints. But in spite of that, I enjoyed my short stay there. My verdict: a must visit for anyone wanting a European adventure!

Ciao Milano

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  1. Could you please advise me about halal restaurants in milan. My trip is at the end of this month

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