milan

My train arrived in Milan late in the evening, around 10pm. I had booked a room from a couple on AirBnb. I was a bit worried that I was disturbing them arriving so late at night, but it turned out that it was the wife’s birthday, and they had gone out for dinner, and so the timing worked out pretty well. And I later found out that people tend to sleep late in Italy anyways, so arriving late was not a problem.

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My walk from the train station to the couple’s house made me a bit nervous. It was late at night, and it didn’t seem like I was walking through the nicest neighborhood. But I made it safely to their home without any problems. They were a very nice couple, taking a lot of time to get me situated and telling me about all the things to see in Milan and how to get there by subway.

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The most famous site in Milan is probably the Duomo, which is one of the largest cathedrals in the world. It was raining when I arrived, but that didn’t stop me from eating gelato.

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The view from the roof of the Duomo is quite impressive. There are dozens if not hundreds of spires with a statue of a saint on top of each. From the top of the Duomo you can see into downtown Milan.

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Another view of downtown from the top of the Duomo. Apparently Milan is the main financial center of Italy.

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Milan is also one of the fashion centers of the world, and apparently it was fashion week during the time I was there. There were various supermodel looking types walking around among the tourists, and there were various red carpets setup for the models to strut their stuff on.

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Next to the Duomo is a huge shopping center. Apparently Santa shops here in the off season. There were protesters hanging from the ceiling, protesting the Versace company’s environmental record. I guess the fire department was called in to figure out how to get the protesters down.

milan2Castello Sforezsco was recommended by my AirBnb host. The architecture of the castle is pretty cool.

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The castle houses several museums, most of them hold exhibitions from the middle ages. There are amazing tapestries and statues from that era, and the ceilings in most of the rooms are pretty amazing. One of the ceilings was being restored when I visited, apparently it was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci himself.

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There’s a fair amount of Da Vinci stuff in Milan, the most famous of which is his Last Supper painting. Unfortunately you need to reserve a ticket several months in advance to see it, or you need to pay an exorbitant amount of money to a private guide. That makes it tough for cheap people like me who are terrible at planning ahead. There were several other Da Vinci exhibits around town, one of which was a viewing of parts of his Codex Atlanticus. This was very cool, definitely one of the highlights of Milan for me.

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Another highlight of Milan was the Aperitivo, which is basically the Italian version of happy hour. It’s pretty awesome, you buy a drink and then you can pig out at the buffet. The drinks were pretty stiff, so at most I could handle two, so for a maximum of ten euros you can be quite happy and full.

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Near the place where I found my favorite happy hour spot (I went there twice in two days) there are some ruins from ancient Roman times.

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On my last day in Milan I went and did some stuff that was a little more off the beaten path. Since I didn’t have enough time to make it out to Venice on this trip, and so I’d be missing out on the famous canals, I decided to check out Milan’s canal district. The canals were in pretty bad shape, not much water and the shops were mostly run down. But I found a place that had pretty good and cheap pizza (which I guess isn’t actually that hard to find in Italy) so I was happy. I also checked out some of the local markets. These were setup on the street, and the vendors basically set up shop out of their vans. It was pretty amazing what could be sold out of these vans, because some people were even selling fresh meat and fish.

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This post started with a night shot, so I figure it would make sense to finish with a night shot. From my first impression of Milan, I didn’t really have very high expectations of my time in Milan. But I actually really enjoyed my time in this city, and I definitely wouldn’t mind returning someday.

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