Milan, January 2015
15 Reasons to Go to Milan in 2015
Everyone knows about the famous delights of Italian cities like Rome, with its Coliseum and Trevi Fountain, or Venice with its myriad canals, Piazza San Marco and those pigeons, but how many people can instantly name the top sights in Italy's northern hub of Milan? As a travel writer I've been going out to this graceful city since 1993 and I really rate it. Join me now as I take a direct flight from Edinburgh out to reveal the 15 Reasons to Go to Milan in 2015.
- Duomo Delights - The city's most striking sight is quite simply one of the world’s finest ecclesiastic buildings. This voluminous place of worship is a glorious architectural triumph that can be appreciated no matter your faith. The hike (or lift) up the Duomo, Italy’s largest cathedral, also offers up epic views of Milan.
- Extraordinary Expo – Milan plays host to a World Expo this year. This massive extravaganza sees 145 countries exhibiting with an estimated 20 million visitors flocking to the city. The focus is an environmental and sustainable one, looking at ways all parts of the world can move forward together, under the theme ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’.
- Inter v Milan - It's no wonder that local football giants Inter Milan and AC Milan are happy to share the San Siro stadium. This 80,000 capacity monster is one of the world's great sporting stadia. I was here to witness Scotland go down 2-0 here against Italy in 2005, but still remember the experience fondly given the spine tingling atmosphere and great view even from my distant seat.
- You'll Have Had your Supper - Not just any supper, but viewing Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper is an experience you'll remember longer than any meal. Book ahead to get a chance of a coveted viewing spot.
- Milan is Italy's Other Venice - Ok, so maybe I'm overstating things a little, but Milan does sport a sprinkling of canals of its own. Handily they come lined with cafes, bars and restaurants so head to the canal-strewn 'Navigli' area in the early evening for a big night out.
- Culinary Capital - Milan is one of Italy's culinary hubs. Here you can enjoy everything from little trattorias, where mamma still cooks up a delicious cliché in the kitchen, through to multi starred Michelin gastronomic temples. On this visit I really enjoyed the hearty traditional Milanese cuisine at El Brellin.
- Coffee Culture - Illy coffee may hail from another northern Italian city - Trieste - but it and coffee in general are inexorably woven into the heart of Milanese life. Take a pew in a pavement café and take the pulse of Milanese life as your own pulse raises – they like their coffee strong in this part of the world!
- An Elegant Skyscraper – Let’s face it some skyscrapers can be, well, a little on the ugly side. Not so the sleek Pirelli Tower, with its sleek, elegant lines. Italy’s tallest building soars for 127m above the Milan skyline. If it looks familiar it is said to have inspired a slew of other skyscrapers since it was completed in 1958.
- Retail Frenzy - Milan is a serious shopping city. To get in the mood stroll goggle-eyed around the breathtaking Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade, one of the world’s oldest shopping arcades, dating back to the 19th century.
- Designer Dreams – They are all here so if you like your big labels then Milan is the place to be. In Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II alone there are two Prada stores. This is, of course, also the city of Armani. Enough said.
- Pick a Street - Not just any street. Via Solferino, arguably currently the city’s hippest street is in the Brera quarter. Here you will find plenty of shops, but also cool cafes, chic bars and plenty of eating options.
- Old Masters -The Pinacoteca di Brera is up there with Europe's finest art galleries. Descend back through the centuries and admire the works of such luminaries as Titian and Tintoretto, through to Goya and Rembrandt.
- Train Spotting - I admit I'm a bit of a train spotter and love a spectacular old school rail terminus. They don't come much more spectacular than Milan's hulking Stazione Centrale. It dates back to 1931 and is still one of Italy’s most important hubs. Catch the Malpensa airport train in to Milan and you even get to arrive here!
- Museo del Novacento – In Milan culture is not all about classical art. Oh no, as this spanking new gallery amply demonstrates. It was opened in 2010 close to the Duomo and boasts a smorgasbord of mainly Italian avant garde art. The cafe/restaurant overlooking the Duomo square is worth the visit alone.
- Lakes Not Lochs - The spectacular mountainous region just north of Milan is easily accessible by train and bus. A flurry of picture postcard lakes, cute settlements and islands tempts.
Robin McKelvie has been a travel writer, broadcaster and photographer since 1997. He has written thousands of travel articles for magazines and newspapers across five continents. In recent years he has also moved heavily into online writing, social media and blogging.