09 Dec A Quickie Weekend in Milan
Milan in November
Readers of this site will know that I adore Milan, and any opportunity to practise my Italian is good with me. So how I was going to turn down a weekend in Milan, flying from Stanstead with Ryan Air, for only £30?
Milan isn’t top of my list of Italian cities. It’s set in the industrial North and I like my cities a little warmer, with that slightly more laid-back quintessential – or is it stereotypical – Italian chill. Still Milan’s status as one of the top fashion destinations in Europe goes a long way towards making up for that, and there are still ways that you can have that chilled experience, even in this bustling location.
One of the things I love about flying from Stanstead is that not only does it mean we can make an early morning flight, but we can also drive to the airport and miss that awful mind-numbing tube journey back from Heathrow on the Piccadilly line. It was an easy drive to the car park we had pre-booked with Holiday Extras, which turned out to be less than 5 minutes walk from the terminal. How easy is that (it was the Green Park if you want that experience)? They had also been kind enough to set us up with free entry into The Escape Lounge, something I really find useful in Stanstead as its a small airport with just not enough seating for everyone, especially if there are any delays or cancellations. Here you can catch up on the newspapers and tuck into a breakfast buffet while you wait for your flight.
We flew into Bergamot Airport which, although outside Milan, was a simple enough 40 minute cab ride into the city. We chose to stay at the Hotel Fenice, a simple three star hotel which was an easy 20 minute walk to the Duomo, with lovely, very accommodating staff and situated right in the middle of the shopping district: girlie heaven! We grabbed a cab from the line at the airport when we arrived, but compared taxi Apps to find a good price on our return and managed to save ourselves 20 euro.
So, we had one day and a half to enjoy ourselves. What did we get up to. First off, food! My companion was the talented chef Hulya Erdal so it was natural that food would be top of the menu, excuse the pun. We eased ourselves into our visit with lunch at Nobile. It was one of those cinematic moments when both our eyes swiveled right as we walked past and we knew this would be our first stop. My choices of a small but delicious plate of ravioli and grilled vegetables was a good decision and a perfect way to introduce Italy to Hulya, who tends to prefer to visit France. The atmosphere in this chic little bistro was was fantastic, and the setting relaxed and informal. We could feel ourselves melting in Italy like hot butter on toast. A feisty espresso with a choc ice wrapped it up and we were off.
The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the cathedral to shopping, La Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, where you’ll see the likes of Prada and Gucci, and gazing at the exterior of the magnificently Gothic Duomo. I’ve visited this previously, and it certainly is a breath-taking must-see but this time neither of us fancied the long snaking queue in the chill of the November winds, so if you’re averse to waiting, you might like to book online before you get there.
Something rather decadent to do, however, is sit in the Aperol terrace that overlooks the Duomo and this is what we did the next day, with two colourful glasses of Aperol, a glorious azure sky and a cosy heater above.
We did, however, brave that icy wind for a wander around the world-famous Monumental cemetery. Seriously, if Armani did cemeteries this would be it. From atmospheric Victorian, to strikingly beautiful, to just plain crazy, this really is the place for stylish souls to wander. You’ll probably need to take the metro, and it has its own station, Monumentale, on line 5. You can book a guided tour, but the place is so awesome you still get so much out of it just wandering on your own…including that stillness and serenity I find so vital. Just make sure that you allow yourselves at least a couple of hours for a proper wander.
On our return, we wandered through an area of Milan I’d never seen before, Porto Nuova, a showcase for modern architecture, with a sparky, energetic atmosphere. I especially liked the bookshop where you can sit out with a coffee and people watch.
What am I not telling you? I haven’t mentioned the seven euro pizza that we found in a little trattoria where we sat chatting for hours, or the giggles we had working out how to use the Metro. Or the amount of coffee we allow ourselves to indulge in. We packed a lot in such a short time, especially considering the amount of time we spent eating and drinking. Still, that’s what Italy is all about…