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Milano and surroundings

by Carina Parramon from Catalonia

Milano is a city in the North of Italy, well known as one of the most fashionable cities in the world. Famous for shopping but also for its architecture, Piazza del Duomo is the neuralgic centre for tourists. Let me explain you how I planned my 3-day-trip to Milano and Lago di Como, and which places and locations I visited. I wish my personal experience helps you if you are looking forward to visiting it!

Milano has three nearby airports, from which you can take a train to Milano Centrale, the main public transport station in the city, one of the biggest train stations in Europe. This is a majestuous building, so do not hurry and spend some time in it, it’s beautiful. There you will find buses and taxis, that can take you anywhere in the city. You can also take the tram or the subway.

Duomo by Carina Parramon

Starting to visit Milano: if you’re staying not so far away from the city centre, I totally recommend you to get there walking. Streets are full of shops, small churches and stunning buildings you can admire while you go to Piazza del Duomo. You can spend your first day walking, discovering the city, its people and its atmosphere.

Inside Duomo by Carina Parramon

When you arrive at Piazza del Duomo, the first thing that catches your attention is, obviously, Il Duomo. Its a magnificient cathedral with gothic architecture, and its construction started in 1386. It’s the largest cathedral in Italy: it has a capacity of 40000 people. I recommend you to visit it, you can buy a ticket outside (right handside if you’re coming from the square). There are some different kind of visits, but I recommend you to buy the ticket for inside the cathedral and also for the rooftop. The visit starts at the front door of the cathedral, be aware not to bring forbidden objects, there is a control at every entrance. If you like archeology, you can also visit the archeological zone inside Il Duomo (ticket needed).

Duomo Rooftop by Carina Parramon

When you finish your visit inside, you have to take one of the streets next to the Cathedral and go towards the back of it. From there you can take the elevator to the rooftop, where you can walk through the columns, gargoiles and decorations in its roof. You will walk from the back of the cathedral to the front, and then some stairs will take you to the highest point of Il Duomo. From the centre of the rooftop you will be able to admire all Milano skyline, and it’s breathtaking.

Vittorio Emanuele Gallery by Carina Parramon

After visiting the Cathedral, you can go to Gallerie Vittorio Emanuele, right next to Il Duomo. These galleries are the most famous place for luxury shopping in Milano. All the best known Italian brands of luxury clothing and jewellery have a store there.

Santa Maria delle Grazie by Carina Parramon

Although the most famous church in Milano is Il Duomo, you should also visit Santa Maria la Maggiore. It is a small church with an illusory choir: this means that the choir was painted in perspective, so from the front you have the illusion to see a big choir, but it is only 90cm long. The entrance to the church is free, but do not forget to visit Il Cenacolo: there you can admire “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci. Be sure to get your tickets for the Cenacolo at least one week before your visit, or you may not be able to visit it: it is a small place but very crowded, this means that not so many people can visit it everyday and you need a previous booking. You can easily buy the tickets through Internet.

In Milano there are plenty of restaurants to eat, from very cheap to very expensive. I was recommended a restaurant 5 minutes away from Piazza del Duomo (PIZ Restaurant) where you can only eat pizza: a very small place, with really nice and funny decoration, and wonderful pizzas. There are only 3 pizzas in the menu, but they are delicious. If you want to eat there, go very early and book a table or you may have to wait for more than one hour. I totally recommend this place, it was a great experience.

If you prefer another restaurant, you can go to the Navigli neighbourhood, which is famous for its restaurants and nightlife. You can eat by a cannal, or even inside a boat! There are also lots of hotels there, and price is reasonable. Particularly, I stayed there in a hotel in this zone (La Vignetta) and it was a very nice place, with a great quality-price ratio and very kind staff.

Como Lake by Carina Parramon

If you have a day off, you should try to visit Lago di Como. You can reach there by bus, or you can rent a car and drive there (one hour approximately). I would prefer the car, because you will be able to visit the small villages, stop by the lake to admire the stunning landscapes, and you do not need to be aware of timing.

Bellagio by Carina Parramon

There are two villages you must visit in Lago di Como: Varenna and Bellagio.
Bellagio is a small town by Lake Como, and its the most touristic village in the zone. The narrow streets, the steps, the market and the lake make a perfect landscape. It is full of shops and cafes, and you can also visit some villas and gardens. It is one of the most glamourous places in the North of Italy, many famous people have a second residence there.

Varenna by Carina Parramon

The second village you must visit is Varenna. It is in the opposite side of the lake of Bellagio, and driving there would take a lot of time. But do not worry, you can put your car in a ship that will take you there in 15 minutes for a very reasonable price.

View from Varenna cafè by Carina Parramon

Varenna is a really small village, with narrow streets and stairs that will take you to the shores of Lago di Como. It’s a very beautiful place, specially quiet in winter, in which you can go for a walk and relax. I found a really small cafe by the lake (Varenna Cafe) where you can eat or have a coffee next to the lake, surrounded by mountains.

Sunset by Carina Parramon

Bellagio and Varenna are the two most famous villages in the zone, but if you go by car, you can also visit other villages next to Lago di Como, charming places you will not forget.

before going back to Milan by Carina Parramon

Back to Milano, if you have some spare time, you can visit the terraces next to Il Duomo, where you will be able to drink a Spritz (italian apperitive) in a terrace above the square, while enjoying Il Duomo’s architecture.

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