Milan is a city I have a strong affection for. I studied there for a year and worked there for three. During that time my parents visited me on several occasions. They now share their experiences with you in the third and final part of the series.
The Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore is situated close to Porta Ticinese, where you can also see 4th century Roman columns. This whole area is well worth a visit. The Basilica of St. Ambrose, built originally in 379 is also an important church connected with this famous patron saint of Milan. The San Carlos Basilica close to the Duomo is another interesting church. However one which is virtually unknown to visitors is the church of San Bernadino, also situated close the Duomo in Piazza Santo Stefano. It was built in the 17th century on the site of a cemetery and is decorated with the bones and skulls of people from hospitals and prisons collected over a 400-year period. It is only open in the mornings so don’t be disappointed by arriving there after 1 p.m. We certainly would have missed this one if our son hadn’t taken us there. It reminded us of the skulls and bones in the Paris catacombs.
There are many other places you may like to visit which you won’t find from a tourist information office but if you do your research on the internet you can avoid being disappointed. As we are interested in history we decided to try to find the exact location of where the bodies of Mussolini and his mistress were hung up in April 1945, shortly before the end of the Second World War after the Italian Partisans had executed them near to Lake Como. We took the underground to Loreto and it was in the Piazale Loreto at the top of Corsa Buenos Aires where you will see a memorial to the Liberation but the actual petrol station from where they were hung is no longer there. Local people didn’t seem to want to talk about Mussolini and were very vague about the actual site so we had to be content with seeing the Liberation monument.
From this area it is ideal to take a stroll down the Corsa Buenos Aires, which is famous for it’s shops. It is a shopper’s paradise and not all are expensive so well worth looking around those which appear to be in your price range. We were able to buy some very nice gifts at shops along there but the danger is that window shopping can take up too much of your precious time which would be far better spent on the more interesting sights of Milan. Those who are interested in cars or the Formula One race may like to visit the very large Ferrari store, which offers everything imaginable, but be warned that as these are genuine articles they have price tags to match!
Milan has some good but expensive restaurants. For those who prefer self-service to avoid the high service charges or the expected high tips there is always Brek, We mentioned this in our article on Turin and it can be found in most Italian cities. We also found another good self-service restaurant called “Ciao” which was conveniently situated near to the Duomo. Both of these always seemed crowded with people, especially around meal times.
As mentioned previously Milan is a great springboard for so many holiday destinations, in particular the beautiful Northern Lakes, and you can even go for a day trip without the need of moving from your Milan based hotel. We decided to go to Lake Como for the day and as it was only a one-hour train journey from Cadorna station in Milan, was a wonderful contrast of scenery from the noise of the city. Just the tranquillity of being by the lakeside was special in itself. Then afterwards we took the funicular to Brunate, which is at the top of the hill and has fabulous views of the Lakeside below. There were also some gorgeous properties to admire in secluded areas as we walked around trying to guess whether they were owned by rich Italians or more likely by foreign celebrities. Lake Como has some beautiful shops too and large squares so we were very impressed by its beauty. We were certainly glad that we had decided to spend a whole day there and only returned late in the evening to the hustle and bustle of the city of Milan.
There is much more to discover in Milan than we could possible see during a week’s visit but as it is a convenient city to fly to from the UK, we know that we shall be retuning there in the future and look forward to continuing our voyage of discovery in this important Northern Italian city.
Milan Public Transport
Information on tickets, travel cards etc
Very good site giving information on getting around on public transport
Find details and timetables of trips by train from Milan
I hope you enjoyed this series. A big thank you to my parents for such a comprehensive guide to this wonderful city. Please feel free to share your experiences by leaving a comment.
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