After an uneventful flight we arrived at Bergamo airport Milan, the weather was great above the clouds but as we were coming into land the captain announced that it was a grey day on the ground, oh well it had to be warmer than the UK, didn’t it? Well it was but only just.
Top Tip; anyone flying to Milan Bergamo, and wants an onward connection to Milan city centre there is an excellent coach service available direct to Milan Central Station, providing nice comfortable coaches all for the reasonable cost of €5 single or €9 return, and if flying with Ryanair you can buy these tickets on board and surprisingly with no mark up.
The journey to the city was pretty bland really as the area around Milan is pretty flat, this combined with the grey skies and the endless factory estates we passed it was not a very inspiring journey at all. As we entered the city things started looking up, amazing architecture, quaint little churches dotted here and there, wetting our appetite for the trip ahead. We arrived at Milan Central station (which incidentally is an amazing structure in itself and well worth a look), the journey took around 45 minutes, and our hotel the Hotel Andreola was just a short walk from the station, situated in a nice quite street, whilst checking in I couldn’t help noticing that the hotel provide a taxi service to the airport where we had just come from for €95 one way a vast difference to our €5 cost, extortionate. So with bags dropped it was off to explore the city. Our first port of call was the cities cathedral the Duomo a truly magnificent structure right in the heart of Milan, as it was a Sunday there were plenty of people around, drinking coffee, taking lunch, drinking wine the whole place was buzzing and had a great atmosphere about it. After our visit to the Duomo we had a stroll through another amazing structure the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It was named after the first king of the kingdom of Italy and built-in between 1865 and 1877, it is now a very upmarket shopping and restaurant complex. As we had a very early start to the day It was then time to head back to our hotel for a well-earned meal and a drink .
Today we decided to head back to the Duomo and as we did not have the time or the energy yesterday we decided to climb the stairs (approx 919 of them) to the Duomo roof, the views from the roof promised some magnificent views of the city below, like I said it was intended to climb the three hundred or so steps to the roof but unfortunately these were closed and only the lift was available which at €12 each was a bit pricy to say the least for a 2 minute lift ride, oh well even god has to pay the bills I suppose, on reaching the top we all unanimously agreed it was worth the cost as the architecture of the structure up close was amazing, this along with the magnificent views of the city and the square below it is a must do if visiting Milan. Also whilst on this trip it was our intention to go to the Santa Maria delle Grazie Abbey the home of the last supper painting “The Last Supper” but even though we tried to book tickets for our visit a week before we left the UK it was fully booked, so my advice here is to book well in advance. Our nest port of call was the Teatro alla Scala the Milan opera house it was constructed in 1778. Most of Italy’s greatest operatic artists, and many of the finest opera singers from around the world, have appeared at La Scala during the past 200 years, a magnificent building with an equally magnificent history, you can take a tour of the theatre unless there are rehearsals on, and as well as getting to see the interior of the opera house there is also a very good museum with lots of artifacts from the theatre’s past a great way to spend an hour or two. Top Tip; if visiting Milan it is worth mentioning the “Milano Card” which can be purchased from railway stations, airports, and many shops around the city also online, our 24 hour card cost 6.50 euros this entitles you to 24 hours use of the transport system ie, buses, trams, metro, and trains, also discount on many of the city’s attractions and restaurants, and in my opinion great value for money, we saved 35% off the entry price of the opera house.
After a bite to eat and a drink, our next port of call was the city’s Castello Sforzesco (castle), which used to be the seat and residence of the Duchy of Milan. It now houses several of the city’s museums and art collections. Originally constructed in 1450 it is one of the biggest citadels in Europe. As you approach the main entrance the whole structure towers above you with imposing high walls, above the main gate is a very tall clock tower and at each of the castles four corners are huge rotund towers with circular pitched roofs, on walking through the main gate you are confronted by what was once the huge parade ground (the garrison housed between 1000 and 3000 men) and just by standing in the middle of it you get a sense of what must it have been like in its heyday. As you leave the castle by the rear gate you enter a lovely park, so we took the opportunity of a seat in the shade and a cone of delicious Italian ice cream. After a walk around the park, and as it was late afternoon we decided to get back onto the metro and head for the Navigli Milan’s canal district for our evening meal. I must admit seeing the images of the canal area especially the ones taken at night, and whilst doing the research into our trip especially as one of the articles described it as Milan’s little Venice we was really looking forward to visiting Navigli, but quite frankly is was a bit disappointing lots of rundown buildings, lots of graffiti and as for the Venice comparison I really don’t think so, but at least the restaurants along the canal were nice and getting busy as the evening wore on. Now most bars and restaurants in Milan offer “Happy Hour” which is fact happy three hours, now this is not like you would normally associate with “Happy Hour” i.e. buy one get one free or half price cocktails etc. but it goes like this you buy a cocktail usually ranging from around €8 to €10 but included in this price is a buffet of cold and hot food consisting of various pastas, breads, olives, delicious dips & various cold meats which you can feast on all evening if you want but normally one or two trips to the buffet is more than enough. Soon it was time to head back to our hotel so after a stroll along the canal to walk off some of the food and to find the nearest tram stop which thankfully was not too far away thus concluded another great Tomorrow Lake Como:
Today we decided to catch the train to Lake Como. Unfortunately the weather was a lot cooler than yesterday and the forecast was for rain but nonetheless off we went. Like I said earlier our hotel was just a short walk to Milan Central station so it was off to the ticket office to ask for “tre biglietti per il Lago di Como per favore” (three tickets to Lake Como please) in my very broken Italian. The journey takes roughly an hour, and to our surprise it was on board a really classy double-decker train with panoramic windows to take in the scenery, (British rail take note) all for a cost of about €6 each return, a real bargain after some of the prices in Milan, which incidentally is in the top 10 most expensive cities in Europe. We arrived at Lake Como and the weather looked extremely bleak, and yes it was raining so we decided to head for cover and grab a coffee to formulate our plan for the day. So after a nice strong espresso and a couple of cappuccino’s for the girls we headed off to the water taxi station and bought a ticket for an hour-long round trip of a very small part of the lake. (Lake Como has an area of 146 km², making it the third largest lake in Italy, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore. At over 400 m (1320 ft.) deep, it is one of the deepest lakes in Europe, and the bottom of the lake is more than 200 metres (656 ft.) below sea-level.) Courtesy of Wikipedia. So you can imagine our round trip barely scratches the surface but it gave us a taster of perhaps another visit to Italy and the Lake and maybe next time a little longer. Even though the weather was against us it didn’t stop us seeing some of the breath-taking views and lakeside villas in all their glory, I dread to think how much they cost. We decided to alight at the furthest point of our circular journey which was the small lakeside town of Torno a very picturesque village with a population of about 1200. After a stroll around the town and some lunch in a very nice cafe it was time to catch the water taxi back to Como, which is a wonderfully picturesque in itself, with plenty of small streets to meander through with many quaint little shops and restaurants a definite town to return to in the future.