A Very Busy Visit to Milan
Milan is primarily associated with its buzzing business and financial activity or with glamorous fashion industry. Meanwhile, the city had a glorious mediaeval history. In the late antiquity, Milan was the capital of the Western Roman Empire from 286 until 402 AD. It became one of the most prosperous Italian cities during the High Middle Ages, playing a primary role in the Lombard League.
Since the industrial present overshadows its imperial past, Milan is often overlooked as a great travel destination. Tourists use to drop in the city on their way to other places or for shopping. We, too, visited it on our way to the Lake Maggiore where we spent a fabulous week with Nora of enchantingitaly.blogspot.com and her family.
My friend and I landed almost simultaneously at Bergamo airport though we flied from different places. He came from Moscow with Windjet and I arrived from Pescara with Ryanair. It was the first time when he arrived to a new city all by himself and I was very happy when he met me in the airport.
We stayed in a modest but rather elegant hotel Sempione (Via Finocchiaro Aprile 11 – 20124 Milano). I liked very much its cosy lobby decorated with beautiful pictures and orchids. And the glass elevator was very cute.
As a matter of fact, that was our second visit to the city. We spent there several hours during our first bus tour when we made half of Italy in one week. Milan was our last destination and we were already overwhelmed by impressions. We had a basic city sightseeing tour which gave us a very superficial idea of the city. I remember that La Scala left us a little bit disappointed since it looked rather modest if compared with the Bolshoy Theatre in Moscow.
The Duomo had a rather unusual appearance since it was accurately wrapped in a plastic film and looked more like a skyscraper than a cathedral. We weren’t very impressed and I wasn’t yet a blogger then, so we didn’t enter the cathedral. As soon as we were hungry and short of time, we preferred to go to the restaurant, which was located in a next door shopping center. We sat on the veranda, which overlooked the roof of the cathedral and admired its spires and statues. My strongest impression was the Sforza Castle but unfortunately we hadn’t got time to visit it, too.
In order to make the most of our visit, I made a lot of travel planning. The most difficult thing was to book a visit to the “Last Supper” of Leonardo da Vinci. The prices in the Internet varied greatly, reaching 40 euros per person. Finally, I managed to book the ticket via http://www.vivaticket.it/. The price was only only 8 euros but I had to fill in the longest ever questionnaire, as if I was applying for a job at the Secret Service.
We had only one day for sightseeing provided that the next morning was dedicated to the “Last Supper”. My wish list included the Duomo, the Sforza Castle, and an arts gallery. I hesitated between the Ambrosian gallery and the Pinacoteca Brera. The problem was solved by the fact that juston this day the Pinacoteca Brera arranged a free night in the museum. It’s incredible but not only we made all the agenda but enjoyed every minute of that great day!
Of course, we hadn’t got time for shopping but we dropped for a minute in the magniicent Gallery of Victor Emmanuel II which is situated near the Duomo.
It was very helpful that the hotel Sempione has a really great location. It is situated near the metro station Republica and it was reasonable to take a daily ticket. It appeared that the ticket was valid for 24 hours, so we used it the next morning to visit the “Last Supper”.
The hotel is located not far from the station of Milano Centrale. Just about the corner begins a very broad Via Vittor Pisani which leads directly to the railway station. On both sides of the street are situated cafésand restaurants with various menus and prices starting from 5 euros for a buffet. My friend called this street “an eating row”.
The railway station is built in a characteristic monumental style in 1931 but it is very modern and comfortable inside. Like the Termini railway station in Rome, Milano Centrale hosts a lot of shops and cafés.