Milan Visit – On Our Own
We arrived in Milan in the early afternoon by train from Zurich. The subway ride from Milan Centrale Station to the Sant Ambrogio station was easy and short. From there the B&B Hotel Milano Sant’Ambrogio was a two block walk. Our B&B turned out to be a great choice, which really helped us enjoy a Milan Visit on Our Own. The B&B Hotel Milano Sant’Ambrogio is in the Old Town, but is a modern hotel. The subway is nearby and the B&B is also within a half hour walk of any attraction in Old Town Milan. So, it’s a great home base for a Milan visit on your own.
Milan Visit – Pinacoteca di Brera Gallery
After checking in at our hotel, we walked to the Pinacoteca di Brera Gallery because we had advanced tickets. The Brera art gallery isn’t very big but the paintings are impressive. Many of the pictures take up entire walls. We were pleasantly surprised by the Brera Picture Gallery. When we finished, we sat at a street cafe where we enjoyed Italian pasta and salad.
Next we followed the map on my phone to pass the La Scala Opera House and reach the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping mall. The architecture of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is amazing. We did the standard spinning our heels on the bull design in the floor tiles. The shopping mall opens directly on the large plaza facing the Milan Cathedral. The Milan Cathedral was breathtaking in the golden light of the setting sun. We finished the first afternoon of our Milan visit on our own by walking to Sforza Castle. A great start to our Milan visit.
Milan Visit – Navigli Canals
That evening we decided to walk to the Navigli Canals. The staff at the Hotel said it was safe to walk at night and they were right. When we reached the Navigli Canals, I was expecting a quiet area of canal front restaurants, but the Monza Formula One race was that weekend. A party was going on. Race cars were on display, beer was being sold in the streets and it was hard to move through the crowds. Luckily there was a break in the action while we enjoyed a lovely and quiet dinner along the Navigli Canals. Just after we finished dinner, a light show and very loud sound effects entertained the throngs of race car fans.
Milan Visit – Piazza del Duomo
On our second day in Milan, we set out on a Lake Como Day Trip, which took most of the day. Back in Milan after our day trip, we walked past the San Lorenzo Roman Columns which face the Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore. Then we made our second visit to view the exterior of the Milan Cathedral. The Cathedral was magnificent again in the late afternoon sun. The Piazza del Duomo in front of the church was full of tourists taking pictures. Police vehicles surround the square and cement barricades ensure security from terrorist vehicles. We also walked through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II for a second time. On the way back to our B&B we accidentally came across the Middle Finger Statue, which is unusual to say the least. Near our hotel, we enjoyed seeing the monuments and ruins at the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio.
Milan Visit – Last Supper
In the morning of our third day, we had reserved tickets to see the Last Supper. The sunny skies had turned to dark rain clouds. The Milan Airport ended up closing that morning due to the stormy skies. At the Santa Maria delle Grazie Church, the Last Supper didn’t impress me the way it does many others. The picture is impressively large, but the deterioration over the centuries is extensive. Part of the art has been destroyed by a door that had been cut through part of the picture and then later plastered over. Photos aren’t allowed of the Last Supper, but viewers were busy taking pics with their phones. Trying to view a famous work of art when your view is blocked by cell phones is disappointing. The mural on the opposite wall to the Last Supper is in many ways more interesting than the famous painting.
Milan Visit – Milan Cathedral Terraces
Next we scurried through the pouring rain to our favorite morning cafe near our B&B. Then we took the subway for another trip to the Milan Cathedral. There is a subway station under the middle of the plaza facing the church. This time we were there to view the inside of the church and to see the Milan Cathedral Terraces. The dark clouds mixed with rain must have driven away the tourists, because there was no line up for the terraces.
The Milan Cathedral Terraces are extensive and the detail on the stonework is intricate. You can walk around almost 3/4 of the roof and then climb stairs to the rooftop. The carvings and sculptures keep your interest on the church instead of the city views below. The interior of the Milan Cathedral was even more impressive than the cathedral terraces. We also enjoyed seeing the archeological site and the crypt, which are both under the main floor of the church.
Milan Visit – Santa Maria presso San Satiro
After visiting the Milan Cathedral Terraces, I was determined to visit the Church of Santa Maria presso San Satiro. The front door was hard to find, but it was worth the search. Santa Maria presso San Satiro is a very small church with lots of interesting features. The church was designed by Bramante so that perspectives intentionally makes the church look larger. At the side of the church you walk through to another separate area of the church lined with fabulous paintings and architecture. Then off to the side is an alcove with sculptures. The Church of Santa Maria presso San Satiro may not match the grandeur of the Vatican, but is certainly one of my most favorite churches in the world.
The next morning we enjoyed one last breakfast of cappuccinos and croissants at our favorite cafe. Then friends picked us up and we set off for a week in the Dolomites. In less than 3 days we’d covered Milan so extensively that we felt we’d seen it all. And loved it all.