Everybody knows Milan is not the cheapest city to travel to, even being cheap and expensive two very relative terms when talking about travelling. But more usually than not, what you pay is what you get, and in a cosmopolitan city like Milan, where all the arts merge together into something unique and creatively sophisticated, the experience can be unforgettable not only for your wallet but also and mostly for your life. If you have to break the bank, Milan is definitely the way to do it.
I’ve visited Milan for the first time a few weeks ago with G. (my boyfriend) for a weekend break. With lots of expectation in the suitcase and probably not enough money to cover them all (you know, with all that Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana stuff around…), I was really concerned about coming back home a lot poorer than before. For my surprise, we had an incredible weekend without breaking the bank but also without restricting ourselves.
I’m not sure whether I’m just used to Italian prices or I’ve been listening to a bunch of stingy whingers, but the fact is: Milan is just slightly more expensive than other Italian cities. I don’t know you, but I’d rather pay 2 Euro more for a glass of wine, but drink it in a beautiful location in Milan than paying 2 Euro less and drink it in… Well, here where I live. Everything is a matter of perspective.
How much you’re going to spend on your trip is exclusively your concern, but to help you experience Milan and all its beauty without missing too much, I made a list with the 10 must-buys to save you decision-time in case your finances are short. Check them out:
A 10-Centimeter Thick Sandwich
Paninis are common in the whole of Italy, but in Milan they take the art of panini making to another level, actually, sometimes with lots of levels. It’s very common to see sandwiches made with four, five and even six slices of bread with everything you can possibly imagine in between. You should definitely buy one of those when you’re really hungry, since they can replace a whole meal… And for a modicum price.
A Visit to the Duomo’s Rooftop
Even if you’re not religious and not exactly an architecture geek, the Duomo is a must-see, even though it would be practically impossible to go to Milan and not seeing it at some point. But whilst the Duomo itself can be seen totally free of charge, to visit its rooftop you will have to buy a ticket (at the present date it costs 7 Euro) and it’s really worth it. The view up there is incredible and there are also nice sculptures to pose in front, if you’re feeling that artistic.
A Spritz or Negroni at Colonne di San Lorenzo
These Roman ruins right in the centre of Milan are probably not the fanciest place to hang out in the city, but it’s probably one of the most charming. Buy yourself a spritz or a negroni, two typical Italian drinks and blend into the young crowd that normally stays there until the next morning and enjoy your evening like a local.
A Ferrari Experience
Milan is also Ferrari’s home and if you love cars, a visit to the Ferrari flagship store will certainly highlight your day. There you can pay 25 Euro to drive, or at least simulate a drive in one of their Formula 1 cars for about 20 minutes, or even spend your money on really expensive souvenirs you don’t need just to compensate the fact you are probably a few hundred thousand short in money to buy what your heart really wishes. Well, that’s life.
A Guided Tour to see The Last Supper
If you are not an artist, it might be a bit unlikely that you are going to feel specially willing to spend almost 50 Euro on a 45-minute guided tour just to see a painting. Even this painting being one of the most famous Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpieces. However, have some faith. A genius is never declared a genius for no reason. If a picture is worth a thousand words, one painted by Da Vinci can be life-changing. Buy your ticket online to skip the line (that will be certainly miles long) and give it a go.
A Tram Ticket
The old orange trams in operation since the beginning of the last century are living pieces of story that can be perfect to take you everywhere in the city for the irrisory price of 1.50 Euro (valid for 90 minutes). For a classier experience, you can also book an evening ride on a vintage tram that serves wine and a four-course dinner whilst moving along the Milanese streets. Ultimately cool.
Where I live, we call it “fried pizza”, but Panzerotto sounds far more respectable. Typically from the south regions of Italy, the Panzerotto is a deep-fried dough filled with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese very commonly sold as street food and it makes a perfect snack when you’re busy sightseeing.
The latest fashion at the Quadrilatero d’Oro
When visiting one of the fashion capitals of the world, you have to be prepared to be bombarded with incredible designer brands, amazing window shops and… breath taking price tags. However, not everything is a lost cause. If after spinning on the Bull’s Balls (I know you’re going to do it!) you don’t feel very motivated to shopping by the obscene prices of the Vittorio Emmanuelle Gallery, just dry your tears, go outside and wander around the streets nearby. You will find plenty of smaller but equally stylish brands and outlets with more reasonable prices. And for god’s sake, buy something. It’s not every day you have the chance to add a “Made in Italy” item to your closet.
A Ticket to the San Siro Stadium
Not really into football? You don’t need to watch a match (although G. highly recommends it!). Pay a visit to the San Siro museum. One of the largest stadiums in Europe deserves to be seen and it’s part of experiencing Milan properly. It’s not going to hurt and you might enjoy it.
Antiques & Souvenirs at the Navigli
My favourite part of Milan, The Navigli are five artificial interconnected canals with tons of nice shops and charming restaurants around, the perfect place for a late afternoon / early evening stop. Every last Sunday of the month, the Navigli host an incredible flea market that will make you wish not having any baggage allowance restriction, especially if you love antiques as much as I do. Keep this fact in mind before booking your trip, so you can enjoy a real bargain hunt.
Have you ever been to Milan? How did you find it? Let us know in the comments!