24 Hours in Milan... (...and a little bit of Varese too)
January 1, 1970
by Julia Pollacco
I’d been away from sunny Malta for four months on Erasmus in the UK, suffering from a terrible case of post Erasmus blues. One of my roommates lived in Varese, Italy just a forty-five-minute train ride away from the centre of Milan, and had headed back home too – both of us were in extreme denial that it was all over.
One of the few cures for Erasmus blues, we were told, is travelling. One of my favourite bands was playing a gig in Milan. And as if I needed an added excuse to travel, flights for that weekend were cheap. My old roommate quickly agreed to take me in, and just like that, within a few weeks, I found myself in Milan for twenty-four lovely hours.
I landed in Milan late on a Friday, and headed to Varese, and on Saturday, we woke up bright and early. Lucky for me, I had a local showing me around – knowing all the best places to eat and see. We headed out for a quick breakfast of a cappuccino and pistachio croissant in Varese, and never have I ever tasted something as brilliant. We took a quick detour to the Gardens of Estense before getting the train to Milan. Next time I visit Varese will have to take priority. The small town on the outskirts has so much to offer and so much I didn’t get to see in my short time there. With its quiet paved streets and tiny cafés, it serves as the perfect location for a quiet getaway. Not to mention it’s known as the region of seven lakes, and is just a quick train ride away from Switzerland – if you’d like to take a bit of a detour.
Getting to Milan
The trip to Milan takes a bit of a scenic route, with views of the Alps on your way. If you’re lucky and the weather is lovely and clear, you’ll get a clear sighting of them too. We arrived in Milan within forty-five-minutes – meaning we had lots of time to see the centre. My point of view is that holidays are only as expensive as you make them. With Milan being a city, it’s easy to get away with yourself and end up spending more than you might’ve intended. If you’re into shopping, however, Milan might just be perfect for you, with plenty of shops (designer and not) for you to have a look around.
Possibly the best way to take in the majority of cities is just by walking around. Each city has such a story to it – and most of its attractions are best experienced by coming across them whilst taking your own detours. Whilst doing this we came across the Colonne di San Lorenzo, The Wall of Dolls – created to raise awareness about domestic abuse, as well as finding a few churches and parks along the way. Not to mention, stopping for a necessary coffee every once in a while.
It’s impossible to mention Milan without mentioning it’s unforgettable Duomo. Its architecture is the most amazing thing in the world. Being there for such a short time, I didn’t actually get to enter the Duomo – and quite honestly, if you’re only there for such a short time, it might be best if you don’t, unless you’re willing to spend quite a bit of time waiting your turn in line. It is glorious from the outside – and I believe it has an incredible interior too. The hustle and bustle outside it is quite amusing to watch – and you’ll also possibly witness a photoshoot happening right outside it – a popular setting (although not a surprising reality).
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Our next stop was Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – riddled with designer stores. But even if you’re not interested in the shopping aspect, it’s a must visit. It has the most gorgeous glass ceiling, and just walking past the shops is an experience. People crowded around one of the tile designs – Turin’s emblem, represented by a bull – and each person took turns taking a spinning on their heels on the bull, believed that doing so will bring luck. It’s been done so many times that there’s actually quite a deep hole. It might be a myth – but you can never know if you never try. Whilst you’re there, might as well try your luck!
Museo Del Novecento
After stopping for lunch by the Duomo we made our way to the Museo Del Novecento. It’s got some of the most interesting installations and works of art. From paintings, to sculptures, to interactive pieces. It’s an experience not to be missed. And I can’t forget to mention – on the top floor, you’ll find the most wonderful view of the Duomo – making the museum all the more wonderful and gorgeous. Some of the collections include works by Picasso, Kandinsky and many more twentieth century artists.
After stopped for (another) coffee, we made our way to Fabrique, where the gig we’d bought tickets for was taking place. They host quite a few bands, and frequently too. Tickets don’t come too expensive – and if you make it there early enough, you’ll find a spot more or less at the front row. We were watching The Vaccines, and they were brilliant.
Finding your Way Round
Getting around Milan was ridiculously easy – using trams and trains that are quite efficient and inexpensive. Once it gets quite late, you might need to fix up alternative transportation, however. If you’ve only got a few hours in Milan, be sure not to waste any time. If you’re not looking for much of a busy day, even spending your afternoon in a café near the Duomo is an experience in itself.