Only Twenty-Four Hours in Milan, Italy? No problem because I’ve got an Epic Itinerary for You!
Twenty-Four hours in Milan Italy sounds like a total drag. I mean, it’s too long to just sit there, waiting around, sniffing armpits and watching the grass grow. Okay, in fairness you’re probably not doing the armpit thing but no one wants to sit there, bored to death on their vacation. I mean, it’s not enough time to head to Italy’s beautiful Lake Como.
But it’s too much time to sit around and use Italy’s non-existent free wifi. That’s when you begin to wonder,
“What are some Milan things to do if I have just twenty-four hours?”
Well, if you’re anything like me, the answer is a ton because I probably suffer from an undiagnosed case of ADD. Kidding, I don’t have ADD, just a whole lot of energy that helps me see a ton of wicked awesome stuff in an insanely short amount of time.
So gut-check time, “What do you do when there’s a bomb on a bus?” Oh wait, that’s Speed, not this blog post. Sorry, me and Keanu go WAY back before that Wild Cat Sandra Bullock.
Okay, quickly moving on to twenty-four hours in Milan, Italy. Now to be totally honest, I did NOT expect much from Milan (I was way more excited about my Rome itinerary).
I mean, I knew it was a high fashion capital and home to baller designers like Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and basically any other designer who sells a handbag for $1500.
And while these retail stores in Milan Italy may appeal to some, they do not float the boat of a budget traveler like me. I mean, at home I sleep on an air mattress so obviously, there is no way that I’m buying anything from any of those stores.
So then what’s a girl to do besides stuff herself silly with any food imaginable and see all the best hidden gems in Milan?
Well, read on to find out or to make me your new best friend because you are ACTUALLY reading my blog. No I swear, that’s not a threat because I am super fun. My mom says, “I’m super special.” Oh wait, no, that’s not right. Just keep reading while I get myself together.
***DO NOT TAKE A TAXI FROM THE AIRPORT TO MILAN!!! IT WILL COST YOU €95! TAKE IT FROM ME, NOT WORTH IT EVEN IF YOU”RE SHORT ON TIME. You can also check out some of the best apartment rentals in Milan if you’re looking to spend more than a day in this amazing city.
1. Visit Corso Magenta & Sant’Ambrogio to see the Last Supper
So funny story, because crazy stuff ALWAYS happens to me because I’m a magnet for it. Before my trip, I booked a day tour to see all the main attractions in Milan, a tour that included the Last Supper. I did this even though I normally HATE tours, and being herded around like cattle, Because I I was short on time and figured that this would be an efficient way to see as much as possible.
I should’ve known it would go awry when they changed the initial meeting spot and then three days later, changed it again. Well, I waited at the last meeting spot given to me and guess what? The tour was cancelled and no one told me! Yup, clearly I’m a mind reader and intuitively know when a tour is cancelled.
But as fate would have it, I ran into a super nice guy from the tour company who had some high level connections and got me in to see the Last Super, one of the top sights in Milan, Italy, by none other than the one, the only, Leonardo Da Vinci. Not gonna lie it was pretty dope, at least that’s what the cool kids say. But definitely book a tour to understand the context of the piece because a ton of explanatory information isn’t provided. To be honest it’s basically you, the Last Supper, and the Crucifixion fresco by Giovanni Donato da Montorfano, in the former Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie (adjacent to Santa Maria delle grazie church). For all the non-Italian speakers in the audience this is the “Holy Mary of Grace” Church.
Now why is this painting important besides the fact that the master of all masters, and star of the Da Vinci Code, Leonardo Da Vinci, painted this bad boy? Well, for the Renaissance period it was pretty damn innovative. Not only did Da Vinci build on earlier developments of composition and perspective, but he was WAY ahead of his time in terms of his portrayal of the emotional reactions of his subjects; a naturalism that was absent from Italian painting just a century earlier. So yeah, this painting is kind of a big deal but you only get 15 minutes with it so make it count.
Address: Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie, 2 – Milan.
Hours: Tickets are available Tuesday through Sunday from 8.15 am to 7.00 pm, with the last admission at 6:30 pm (25 people admitted every fifteen minutes).
Admission: Tickets cost € 10 plus a € 2 reservation fee and yes, you MUST reserve them in advance. There is a reduced fee of € 5, plus a € 2 reservation fee, for EU citizens between the age of 18 and 25
How to Get There: You can walk from the Duomo in Milan (15 minutes) or you can take the Line 2 (the green line) to the Cadorna stop.
***You MUST book your tickets WAY in advance since this museum sells out fast. I was there on December 23th and tickets were sold out until January 4th.
***Admission is free the first Sunday of every month but you still need to book in advance.
Since 1824, this iconic Milanese bakery has been creating some of the finest pastries in all of Milan (If you only eat one baked good during your 24 hours in Milan, choose the Panettone, with a chilled shaker coffee. Besides, you need the energy to walk through the mean streets of Milan. But I’m like a cow and have six stomachs that help me squeeze in all the pastries I desire).
Walk past the immortal doors of one of the best shops in Milan, Italy and you’ll catch a whiff of tarts, pralines, and pastries that are all baked to golden perfection and served to you hot and fresh every day. Okay, not all of them are served hot but they’re all fresh! As you enter the store, you’re bombarded with colorful displays of candied almonds that gracefully accent the apple green walls and chic marble floors of the meticulously designed interior (It feels like a real life version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, except minus all the death).
But the real magic of this place lies in it’s ability to transport you back in time. Just look at the coffered ceilings and the waiters in exquisite blue suits and you are whisked to a simpler time, where automobiles are replaced with horses drawn carriages and where ladies ditch pants for long, flowing dresses (on second thought, I’ll stick to modern times where I can roll up in my Under Armour sweat pants). And while this city is constantly evolving, this historic institution is always there to quench all of your carbohydrate needs.
I will warn you because not only will you want to devour everything, but the shop in Galleria Emanuele II is a bit hard to find. Yes, it is right off the central walkway that cuts through this iconic shopping center, but it is a bit tucked away on your right, if you’re entering the shopping plaza from the Duomo. So just keep your eyes open for a small doorway that leads to a spiral staircase because the shop itself is located on the second floor.
Address: Via Santa Maria alla Porta, 11/a, 20123 Milano MI, Italy
Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday from7.30am to 8:00 pm and on Sundays from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm.
***There are also two the locations in Milan. One shop is in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the other is on Via Monte.
I hate shopping but Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II won me over and is definitely one of the best sights to see in Milan, Italy. This shopping mecca of architectural opulence is not just about embracing the consumer whore within. Rather, because this building, erected in 1877, is one of the oldest and most astounding shopping centers in the world, it has a charm and historic beauty that is absent from many modern shopping complexes. Between the four-story double arcade, the enchanting mosaics, (be sure to check out the masterpiece entitled, “Riot in the Gallery”. This work portrays a reality of innovation and a future filled with dynamic technologies) the marble floors, and the enticing designer boutiques, there is a great deal of beauty to absorb from a confined space (That’s why you don’t have to shop till you drop to enjoy this place).
Try to enter the Galleria through the corridor between the Duomo and La Scala Theatre. Here, you’ll be welcomed into the complex by a series of extraordinary arches that allude to the greater beauty within. Plus, you may even get this miraculous feeling as you realize that you are entering into the heart of Milan in the exact same way as visitors from over a hundred years ago (I’m a history nerd so yes, weird things like this excite me in strange ways).
As you step inside, you enter the “parlor” of the city where many locals sit, relax, and enjoy a cup of coffee at Camparino as you watch the shoppers stroll by and enter into a world of luxury that consists of Borsalino hats, with a dash of Prada and Louis Vuitton for good measure; all a bit above my pay grade but it’s still nice to immerse yourself in the world of high fashion that Milan is known for.
***If you return to Milan, tradition suggests that you spin your heels on the mosaic of a bull’s “manhood” on the central octagon. Once a means of warding off evil, this custom is now a historic practice that is continued to this day (just look at the hole that has formed in the pavement. Yup, that’s from this tradition).
***Other Milanese of luxury shopping areas are Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga.
Address: Piazza del Duomo, 20123 Milano MI, Italy
Hours: Open twenty-four hours a day
How to Get There: Take the M1 or M3 and get off at the Duomo stop.
4. Duomo di Milano (Fun little factoid for ya, this Milan Cathedral is actually the world’s third largest church building)
When visiting Milan, Italy, one of the epic sights to see in, duh, Milan, Italy is the Duomo di Milano. Now, I first became obsessed with the Duomo di Milano via, you guessed it, Instagram. But I became more obsessed, like on the verge of some weird religious fetish, when I realized that not only did this bad boy take 600 years to build (started way back in 1386 by Giangaleazzo Visconti) , but it was made out of pink veined, white marble (of the Candoglia variety but I really have no idea what that means). So not only is the facade the church stunning, but there are 135 spires and 3400 statues for you to sit and gawk at (I mean, there is a filigree of a damn fairy-tale tiara on this church. Amazing? I think so. Reminds of the epic game Pretty Pretty Princess).
But don’t worry, the inside is just as impressive as the outside. Not only are the stained-glass windows here the largest in Christendom, but the crypt of the cathedral actually houses the remains of Saint Carlo Borromeo (important Milanese archbishop who led a Catholic, counter reformation in the city) in a rock crystal casket.
Numerous artistic masterpieces are also housed inside the Duomo, like the funeral monument of Gian Giacomo Medici, the splendid ‘tree-shaped’ Trivulziano candelabra (in the left transept), the baptistery with a baptismal font that dates back to Roman times (Yikes! At least now I don’t feel so old), and the statue of “St. Bartholomew flayed” (gross because he is wrapped in his own skin, a la Hannibal).
To obtain the most spectacular views from this church, ascend the marble spires and pinnacles that protrude from the rooftop (you can access the top of the building by elevator or by stairs, for a fee). A truly remarkable panoramic view that is enhanced by a gilded, copper statue of the Little Madonna, a figure that has historically been the city’s protector.
Address: Piazza del Duomo, 20122 Milano MI, Italy
Hours: The Cathedral is open everyday from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, with the last admission at 6:10 pm.
Admission: General admission tickets are € 2.00 – € 3.00 and include the Cathedral, Duomo Museum and San Gottardo in Corte Church. Tickets to the terraces and Archeological areas are a separate ticket and price.
How to Get There: Take either the M1 or M3 and get off at the Duomo stop.
***Get there as early as possible because everyone’s bag needs to be searched by the police so that takes awhile (and by awhile I mean a century, But its worth it). Large bags are also not permitted so if you need to store your luggage, head to the museum across the street. I did not know this and cried to get me and my bags in the church.
***The Cathedral, Crypt of St. Charles, terraces, Archeological area, St. Stefano Baptistry, Santa Maria Annunciata in Camposanto Church, and the Dumo Museum/San Gottardo Church all have separate admission times and tickets, so check the website for more information.
*** Looking for a place to eat that has amazing views of the Duomo di Milano? Then head to Maio Restaurant, This high end, Italian restaurant serves fantastic, traditional Italian dishes like Milanese risotto. Yup, I’ll take twelve please, with a side of “no judgement”.
So when you think Italy and canals, you think Venice right? At least I do. I think of that weird ass hand, art sculpture that comes out of the water and all those gondolas that you have to pay like $10,000 to hitch a ride on. But that’s fine because no way do I have the arm strength to row that bad boy.
But I digress. So when I found out that Milan is home to some rather picturesque, Navigili Canals, I was totally stunned and knew I had to see them before I left (I wouldn’t have enough time to visit Venice, so I had to see enchanting Italian canals where I could).
Now while this neighborhood is known for and named after the Navigilio Grande Canal (you can take a boat tour or check out this canal at sunset for some insanely beautiful views), you can also explore some quaint shops, great seafood restaurants serving fine Milanese cuisine, the stunning Milan Cathedral, and even some fabulous art studios and galleries that showcase pieces from well known, as well as up and coming artists.
So after you’ve seen the Last Supper and explored the Duomo di Milan area, I would head over to this neighborhood to grab some seafood while watching the sun set. Plus, as you walk back to the San Agostino metro stop (on the green line), be sure to stroll through some of the local, outdoor vendors who sell everything from shoes to coats to jewelry that you really don’t need but just have to buy anyway.
6. Street Art at the Milano Centrale and along the Streets in Milan, Italy
So the last stop on our tour de force of Milan, is the Milano Centrale station (sounds boring but one of the great sights in Italy I assure you). I chose this as my final stop because I took an overnight train to Rome so this was a convenient end spot for me. So if you plan on taking the train to your next stop in Italy, then definitely save Milano Centrale and the insane street art here for last (you’ll find it between platforms 15 and 20).
Now, I didn’t expect to find incredible street art in Milan street since this type of artistry doesn’t typically compliment a high fashion city like Mlian; honestly, high fashion and gritty, urban street art go about as well together as oil and water (so if you’re not a science nerd this means not at all).
But as I meandered through the insanely cold Milano Centrale, killing time before my train, I saw this twinkle of color at the end of the corridor. Since I had nothing better to do I thought, “Ehh, why not check it out?” Well, I am so glad I did because there was a ton of art right in the train station. Not only was it stunning to behold but these pieces were powerful in composition and this area quickly became one of my must see sights in Milan, Italy.
I literally stood there, perplexed by the meaning of these stunning pieces, admiring them much longer than I intended to. Yup, I actually had to run for my train in spite of the fact that I was like two hours early. So if you enjoy street art as much as I do, definitely set aside some time to explore the street art that has taken over the walls of Milano Centrale Station. Plus, you have to be there anyway so might as well make the most of it, right?
***If you find yourself a little peaky on your way to central station, then stop by the Macha Cafe (obviously you have to like Matcha since its in everything here) as well as Fancy Toast (Think toast but to the NEXT level). Both are quirky cafes that not only serve great food but that have delightful interiors that make for great Instagram photos.
I didn’t See all the Top Sights in Milan But it was a Damn Good Start!
Now, is this the definitive list of all the must see attractions in Milan, Italy? Absolutely, not since there is only so much you can see or do in one day without going crazy or passing out in a standing position. But this one day itinerary in Milan, italy does give you an idea of what you can see and do in a twenty-four hour period. Plus, this list will give you an over all feel for the city so that you can decide if you want to return or not.
Me, i’ll take a one way ticket to Milan please and thank you. Okay, kidding. I wouldn’t move to Milan but I definitely would love to go back since there is still so much I haven’t seen. I mean, I still need to see the Pinacoteca di Brera, the Teatro all Scala, the Castello Sforzesco, theMuseo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia, and on and on and on. I second thought, maybe I should move to Milan for a hot minute because there is way more to see than I thought. But that’s a good problem to have right? Exactly, so cheers to a year filled with good problems like this!
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