I have to be honest, we originally did not plan on visiting Milan. However, the airfare was significantly cheaper flying into Milan than any other city in Italy. As a major hub of transportation, it is easy to get around to practically any destination in Italy in a reasonable time frame- making it the perfect spring board for travel. To take advantage of a new city, we carved out a few days at the end of the our trip to explore Milan.
Lunch: Luini Bakery
Our final destination on our two week journey- Milan! We took the train from Orvieto early in the morning and checked into our lovely attic apartment from VRBO. Since we had been living off of biscotti for breakfast (thank you, Kevin), we were eager to find food. I had my eyes (and stomach) set on Luini Bakery for traditional panzerotti- a delicacy that is well known having grown up in South Jersey. As panzerotti connoisseurs, these were delightful! Kevin and I ate our first “Luini Fritto” (fried) of mozzarella and pomodoro (tomato) so fast that we ordered another round within minutes! As if we did not have enough fried dough deliciousness, we also ordered “Luini Dolce” (sweet) of ricotta and cioccolato (chocolate). We definitely could not get enough of this place!
We walked around the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II, admiring the beautiful glass structure above us. It was very crowded in this area, however we observed the stores were empty- all extremely high end so it must just be a statement to have your store in the Galleria since we did not witness anyone actually shopping!
There is a point where you turn a corner and get a glimpse of the Duomo structure. When you make your way to get a full visual- the incredible size of the Duomo coupled with the intense detail to every inch of the exterior- it does not even look real.
We bought our Duomo Pass that got us entrance to the terraces on foot (roof of the Duomo), the Duomo di Milano, the Duomo Museum and Baptistery of San Giovanni alle Fonti (of note, most major cities have a combination pass that allows ticket holders to see a majority of major attraction at a discount so definitely take advantage!). Our first stop was the Duomo di Milano itself where we were met with the enormous interior- three huge isles filled with massive columns. While it was not ornate with paintings, there were instead sculptures and gigantic stain glass windows. The entrance to the Baptistery of San Giovanni alle Fonti was inside the Duomo so we ventured below into the crypts to observe the church that was unearthed while building the Duomo.
We then took our Duomo Pass to the “terraces on foot” where you climb the Duomo, learn more about its history, and finally walk on the roof surrounded by the numerous spears overlooking the city. We relaxed up here for quite a while enjoying the details of the church and the view. On our way down, we noticed a service scheduled for 5:30PM and we made it down just in time to sneak it and listen to the 30 minute service in Italian.
After completing most items on the Duomo Pass, our minds began to drift to food. We realized we didn’t have any places on our list (very unlike us!) so a quick google search pointed us to Nerino Dieci Trattoria (at the time was #1 on Trip Adviser!). We were hoping a Thursday night may give us some luck attempting to eat at a very popular restaurant after 8PM without reservations. As expected, we were turned away so we began to walk towards our second choice, Bebel’s Ristorante. I had an idea to try to make reservations for tomorrow’s lunch spot since the menu looked delicious, so we turned around headed back into the restaurant. To our surprise, the host told us to wait a with complimentary prosecco and they may be able to squeeze us in. After several minutes we were called to sit in the dining area. We were stunned- certainly not the outcome we expected!
Dinner: Nerino Dieci Trattoria
Our meal here was excellent and well worth the high praise. The restaurant has its own wine label that serves as the house red so we ordered a bottle of that for the evening- Monferrato Rosso top right. To start, we split an order of the breaded scallops top middle and we both with an enormous salad middle right and middle left– huge portion but the greens were a welcome sight on vacation. For the entrée, Kevin ordered the Amberjack fish wrapped in puff pastry and baked top right and bottom middle and I ordered the spaghetti in a pomodoro (tomato) sauce with a whole lobster tail middle middle. Dessert included the “Leonardo”- a ricotta custard with fruit and crushed cookies- for me and panna cotta for Kevin bottome left. Every dish was amazing! A great meal that almost didn’t happen. We could not thank the staff enough for allowing us to experience their dining room this evening. In addition to being an incredible meal, it was also less expensive than we thought given our order. We would highly recommend!
At the conclusion of our meal- way past 11PM as we continued to see new people come into the restaurant – on a Thursday- I want to work here! We slept soundly with full bellies while Italians sat to start their meal.
This morning we got croissants and coffee at the bakery next door (Pan & Vita) before heading to the final location on the Duomo Pass, the Duomo Museum. It was filled with religious relics and art work.
Working up an appetite for lunch, we grabbed gelato from Grom– the obvious lunch choice- before making our final stop on this side of the city, Pinacoteca Ambrosiana. This museum housed many pieces of DaVinci’s work and surprisingly we found other artists to enjoy- including Paul Bril and Jan Brueghel. One of my favorite pieces was Caravaggio- Riposo nella fuga in egitto. It portrayed the Madonna holding a child (Jesus) with a man (Joseph) holding a candle- the picture was so dark and only lite by this tiny flame. There was nothing religious about it, just the realism of parents holding their newborn baby and the intensity of the darkness. The end of the museum showcased all the DaVinci work, including a large replica of the Last Supper and pages of his work- physics of light, friction, and flight full of diagrams and equations. This museum was really a great find! (No photos were permitted while in this museum)
On our way to our next destination we passed the Borsa Italiana, Milan’s stock exchange, where a giant sculpture erect in front of it- a middle finger. Way to go, Milan.
We had time to squeeze in one more sight before dinner so we picked the Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci– Milan’s science exhibit. Expecting more of DaVinci’s work, we were blown away at the three floors of pure science- we were in heaven! One place where we spent a lot of time was a rotating exhibit focusing on the human body, monumental discoveries, and new technology in healthcare- including the DaVinci surgery robot that visitors could examine. Other exhibits included communication history and forms, space exploration, food and agriculture, transportation, and more. We truly did not allot enough time to absorb all the detail here but we were so glad for the visit.
Dinner: Zio Pesce
Dinner was at Zio Pesce (“uncle fish”!) where we meet one of Kevin’s friends from Milan. Here we indulged in seafood, splitting a number of dishes including shrimp scampi, seafood risotto (that including almost every edible creature in the ocean), and a variety of fried seafood with a bottle of white wine to top it off. Everything was delicious and the company was perfection. We are so grateful to live in a world where it is seamless to connect with people around the world! This is one of the things we cherrsih most when we travel.
Dinner: Bebel’s Ristorante
Today was our day trip to Lake Como and it was a fantastic day! When we returned to Milan, we grabbed dinner at Bebel’s Ristorante (recommended by our host) across the street from our apartment. It was the perfect end to our Italian adventure- house red wine, salted bread, and pasta- I ordered spinach gnocchi in a Gorgonzola cream sauce and Kevin had a spicy penne dish. I think what we were most proud of is that we made it through the entire dinner, every transaction, in Italian. A great meal passing with flying colors as our final exam on this trip.
Our flight was in the morning out of the Milan airport and back to the USA. We were glad we spent these last few days here and honestly could have used more! There are so many sights we did not get to explore, one of which was the Teatro alla Scala. Milan was different than most of the other locations because it was a thriving city- a metropolitan area separate from the tourism- with a pulse all of its own. Kevin enjoyed it here as a place where he could live and work, and I have to agree! We really are growing fond of the Italian life style.
I really would not have changed anything on this trip, other than perhaps the ability to permanently travel! We are so passionate about having these organic experiences and immersing ourselves in these enriching environments. Until next time Italian, ciao ciao ciao!
For the full Italy itinerary, click here!