Milan, Italy, the city known as a fashion capital, home to the "Last Supper," and so much more was was our first stop on our tour of Italy this past May. It was also the first trip that I stayed in Air BNB's and no hotels. Tucked away behind number "10" was our little flat for three nights in the Piazza Vetra area. The narrow stairs up to the 4th floor flat made for some great exercise and I loved the medieval key that opened the front door. It was a really central location, minutes walking from the Navigli and Milan Cathedral.
The Navigli is definitely a hot spot in the evenings with a bunch of restaurants and bars that line the canal. It's where we were introduced to the Campari and Aperol Spritz, a great Summer cocktail that you can read more about in my blog post, Best Summer Cocktail - Aperol Spritz. Outside of drinking tons of wine, you definitely want to be on the Spritz train for a great refreshing drink. I personally lean more to the Campari Spritz, but keep in mind it does have almost twice the alcohol content so make sure you pace yourself.
One of the things we really wanted to see while we were in Milan was the Last Supper and the best way to do it is buy a tour. You do have to plan ahead because they book up several months in advance. Our walking tour included the Sforza Castle, which few ever talk about, located in the center of Milan. The Sforza Castle was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan. It was one of the largest citadels in Europe and now houses several museums and art collections.
After we toured the Sforza Castle we headed over to the Milan Catherdral, which is the largest church in Italy, third largest in Europe and the fourth largest in the world. Side note, before you tell me that St Peter's Basillica is larger you are right. However, St. Peter's Basillica is in the State of Vatican City (so it doesn't count). It's hard to fathom that it took almost 6 centuries to build the Sforza, but when you look at all the incredible detail it makes sense.
The final part of the tour was to see The Last Supper. I will be honest I always assumed it was a painting on canvas and not on the wall of a convent. Before you are able to see The Last Supper, you go through a series of glass rooms that you are funneled through one chamber at a time to purify the air and remove dust from you. They only allow 30 people in the room for 15 minutes to see the Last Supper. It makes it really nice not having a ton of people crowding in front of you trying to get a picture.
I was surprised to see another amazing fresco on the opposite wall, The Crucifixion by Giovanni Donato da Montorfano. It was breathtaking and doesn't get its fair share of attention in my personal opinion.
At the end of the walking tour our guide suggested that we stop in this little church San Maurizio down the block because the inside is covered entirely with fresco's. It was truly incredible and the few pictures I took really don't do it justice.
After a long day of walking tours it was time for a pizza and a bottle of wine in the plaza in front of the Duomo where we discussed our road trip destinations during our drive to Montepulciano the following day.
One thing that I wasn't expecting was the graffiti that overwhelmed the beautiful buildings. It was everywhere and most people associate that type of graffiti tagging in a less than positive light. A local told me that it has just gotten out of hand and the government is not sure what to do about it.
If you are not aware, Milan is known as one of the fashion capitals of the world and I truly enjoyed seeing all of the great street fashion. Well-tailored suits of course, to very fashion forward styles that you just don't see anywhere else. I only took a few pictures because I didn't want to be the creepy guy taking pictures of everyone
Two and a half days was barely enough time to scratch the surface in Milan. There was so much stuff we didn't see. Honestly a few weeks would not be enough time in my opinion. Next time, I need to head over to the Quadrilatero della Moda shopping district where you will find Via Monte Napoleone street, which is considered to be one of the most luxurious shopping streets in the world. I also want to experience at least two places where fashion meets architecture at the Gucci Milan headquarters and the Fendi Headquarters.
Last but not least, Starbucks (yes, you read that right) opened in Milan after I left and I would have love to see it, just because!
Milan, we definitely need to meet again!!!