April this year I spent my birthday in Milan, Italy. Like most people, I knew little about this beautiful city, other than the obvious tourist spots. Most people know the Duomo and the painting of The Last Supper, but we came across some hidden gems in Milan, which I’d never even heard of. So, I have put together a list of the Top 5 things to do, which might not be in the guidebooks!
We stayed at the Room Mate hotel – Hotel Guilia, for anyone thinking about having a city break in Milan, I would highly recommend this hotel! Not only does the whole building have an Instagram worthy aesthetic, the location was perfect! We were literally a 1-minute walk from the Duomo and Victoria-emmanuell shopping centre. The only thing which we missed in this Hotel was a bar! As there wasn’t a bar inside the hotel, we did end up having to go back to the room a little earlier than usual, neither of us are the night club type & the centre of Milan doesn’t really have a Bar culture.
The city itself is a perfect mix of Modern and Traditional architecture, however there are some modern buildings which have been built up around some of the city’s oldest churches & Galleries. So make sure you walk around as much as possible, we stumbled across so many beautiful places without even realising they were there. Whenever I travel to new places, I try to get as much information on places to go, but there will always be hidden gems which you may not think would be worth a visit. From our experience in Milan, we found a few of these gems, which I want to share with you.
5: Luini – Bakery
If you are anything like me, food is a big part of why you also love to travel! Well Luini’s Bakery is a local and tourist favourite. We joined a queue for the Bakery and didn’t get to the door for about 30 minutes, locals knew to get there before peak time! Not only did the bakery have a queue longer than Starbucks, it had a bouncer! There are two gentlemen whose job is to allow 4 people into the bakery at a time and make sure there is no pushing!
The main reason why people go to Luini’s are the fresh made Panzerotti, this is savoury turnover which is similar to a calzone but smaller. The dough, cheese and tomato sauce were all some of the bests I’ve ever tasted!
The Bakery also sells freshly prepared Italian Pastrys and biscuits, although we felt spoilt for choice, I tried my first Sfogliatella. Which is layers of flaky pastry, with a sweetened ricotta cheese filling. I have tried many since and I don’t think they will ever come close! The bakery is located just to the left of the Duomo behind the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele on Via Santa Radegonda.
4: Museo del Novecento
This beautiful Modern Art gallery, which is directly to your right when looking at the Duomo, is itself a beautifully designed building which holds some of the amazing modern art that Italy has to offer. Including work from a few masters(Monet..Picasso)
However, the main reason why I fell in love with this museum, was the view. On the third floor of the museum there is a glass wall which overlooks the Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the whole square is beautiful to overlook and is a great way of getting a different perspective on these monuments.
3: Parco Sempione – Public Park
We visited Milan in April and fell lucky with some warm weather. We visited the Castello Sforzesco which holds some of Italy’s oldest sculptures, but the real surprise was the Park that the Castle stands in. If you ever visit Milan in the sunshine, make sure this is on your list of things to do!
The park has some beautiful wildlife and lakes. The lakes within the park have crystal clear water, so you can sit and watch the fishes & turtles swimming around. Being a Manchester girl, I’m used to public parks being a little less welcoming and pristine. It was great to walk around, get some snacks from the food trucks inside the park and just enjoy the sun.
2: Duomo – The rooftop.
I’m pretty sure that not many people who visit Milan, decide not to go see the Duomo. As other than Da Vinci’s Last Supper, this is probably Milan’s most famous tourist attraction. So I’m not going to state the obvious! When you visit the Duomo they offer 2 ticket prices, you can see inside the cathedral and the rooftop balcony or just see the cathedral. There were so many people choosing to not visit the rooftop balcony, but I have to say I found this so much more breath-taking than the inside of the Duomo itself.
The full design of the building can’t be seen from the ground and the amount of intricate stonework and craftsmanship which has been put into the rooftop is beyond beautiful.
1: Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vineyard – Vineyard & Casa Degli Atellani
This was by far the best hidden gem in Milan, this house and grounds are the site of the original Vineyard gifted to Da Vinci for painting the Last Supper. It is located directly across the round from the church Santa Maria delle Grazie, which is where painting, The Last Supper, is located.
From the outside this looks like a bookshop/Coffee shop, although this is where I had the best coffee I’ve ever tasted, this place is so much more! Your provided with a free audio guide, which gives you the history of the courtyard behind the coffee shop, you then enter the stately home which sits on the grounds of the original vineyard. Once you have been through the house (which is beautiful) you then enter the gardens, where the vineyard has been replanted. The gardens and house look like something out of Romeo & Juliet. This vineyard is a must see for anyone visiting Milan, if you have booked your tickets to see The Last Supper, you may as well walk across the road and see this place for yourself! It’s definitely an underrated and under-exposed gem, go and see it while its quiet and you have a chance to really immerse yourself in the house and grounds!