Milan on a budget. We hadn’t planned to include Milan in our Italian plans, but the flight from Germany was just too good to resist. We flew from Stuttgart to Malpensa for 35 Euros each (including checked baggage) with EasyJet…what a bargain! For our accommodation, we had booked a night at Hotel Calypso (74 Euro, shared bathroom) because it was a 5 minute walk from the Stazione Centrale. Catching the bus from Malpensa airport to Stazione Centrale was easy with three different bus ticket booths at the airport arrival hall. We paid 8 Euro each and only had to wait about 10 minutes for the next bus to arrive. Finding our hotel was straightforward with GPS enabled on our tablet. There were several Asian restaurants near the hotel but we weren’t that hungry and opted to self cater at the supermarket. Wifi (free) was super fast with a strong signal. Since it super late by the time we got settled in, we decided to postpone our Milan sightseeing for tomorrow.
After breakfast, we checked out of our room and left our bags at the reception since we didn’t want to rush back to check out by 11 am. What to see in Milan with only a few hours to spare? We hopped on the metro for a short ride to the Duomo and started there. The Milan Cathedral is described as “flamboyant Gothic”, and it is the 5th largest Church in the world. There are over 2000 spires and statues on the Church! One look at the ticket line and we opted to skip an interior visit. Next up was the adjacent Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a massive shopping gallery with mosaic floors and domed glass ceilings. We strolled through the gallery and past the Teatro alla Scala (considered one of the world’s greatest opera houses, closed) towards Milan’s Brera district. Here, the Santa Maria del Carmine (circa 1446, built with terra cotta) caught our eye so we had a quick visit. Then it was off to Castello Sforzesco (the Sforza family castle), which is Milan’s mightiest castle. Entrance to the castle was free, and off in the distance, we spotted the Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace), a triumphal arch located in Sempione Park. So of course we made a detour through the park to check the arch out. Next up was a visit to the Church of Holy Mary of Grace (Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie), which is a UNESCO world heritage site containing Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” mural in the refectory of the convent. Last stop on our tour was a stroll around Navigli, a historic neighborhood named for the canals that run through Milan. Our canal of choice was the Naviglio Grande, which is one of 5 interconnected canals, often dubbed “Little Venice”. The little we saw of Milan definitely impressed. It’s a beautiful city that is well connected by public transportation (train, bus, metro). We only scratched the surface of things to see and do in Milan and wouldn’t mind a return trip to explore further.