In October 2021, we spent almost 3 weeks touring the northern part of Italy. Many of you have asked about our accommodations, itinerary and restaurant recommendations in the area. We stayed in several regions, so for ease of reference, I’m breaking it down and will share in multiple posts over the next few weeks. Our first stop was Milan.
Tips for visiting Milan
First, let me say that I LOVED Milan. It’s a vibrant city, not as ancient as Rome but still with lots of history and unique culture. And it’s one of the world’s fashion capitals, full of stylish people.
My very first recommendation for visiting Milan applies to your arrival. There are two airports that service Milan, Linate and the newer Malpensa. If you have a choice, fly into Linate. It’s a smaller airport, but only a short drive from downtown Milan. Malpensa is over an hour away. If you’ve had a long day of travel, this can make a big difference! (We didn’t know this when we booked our flight, but happened to get lucky.)
Our hotel in the center of Milan
We wanted to be centrally located for ease of exploring Milan on foot and by public transport. We looked at several options and selected Sina the Gray, which was one of the smaller hotels we considered. It’s just a short walk to the Galleria, the Opera house, the Duomo di Milano (cathedral) and many other spots.
The room was a nice size, not huge but well laid out. I really liked the long table/desk against the back wall, which gave me a nice work space. The bathroom was down a short flight of stairs and was relatively well-lit. The decor is mostly modern, though not stark. (I wish I’d taken a photo of the lobby which had a large purple velvet swing bench in the center.)
The staff at Sina the Gray was amazing and could not have been more helpful during our entire stay. We arrived too late for dinner our first night, but they told us they’d be happy to provide drinks and a snack on the rooftop terrace.
They also recommended (and booked us into) two of the three restaurants where we ate dinner the remaining nights in Milan, and wow! We were delighted with the recommendations.
The only, only downside was that our room was VERY warm (for us), and we weren’t able to adjust the temperature except by opening the window.
We had what I consider to be three of our best meals EVER in Milan! I apologize in advance as I don’t usually photograph or take notes about every dish, so my recommendations will be more general.
Isola dei Sapori – we were led to our table past a long counter of fresh seafood on ice, a promising start. Our expectations were exceeded…everything including the service was outstanding. We also learned that landlocked Milan is actually an excellent place to enjoy fresh seafood. It’s a transport hub, so most of the fresh catches pass through en route to other destinations.
Ratanà – a more casual atmosphere and style of food, though everything was excellent. We ate on the patio, but the little bit of the interior I saw looked charming. (The building was a former cinema.)
Stendhal – what a delight this was! Fabulous food, friendly staff and a very convivial atmosphere. Would definitely go back!
Seeing the sights
We’d booked a private walking tour for our first day, (arranged through authenticitaly.com) and we covered a lot of ground! We walked through the famous Galleria to the Opera house, where we were able to watch some of a set change for an upcoming performance. Then we toured the Duomo di Milano, including climbing all the way to the top. It’s really magnificent! After lunch, we took a ride to the Armani Museum, which I’ve written about HERE.
The second day we explored on our own on foot, though we were a bit tired and didn’t venture too far.
The third day we met up with our guide again for a half day, and she shared some of her favorite shopping spots in Milan. Two that might interest you are WHYCI Milano (here’s an outfit with a jacket I bought there) and Giosa, which makes luxury crocodile bags and other goods right on the premises.
Late that afternoon we had tickets to see da Vinci’s The Last Supper, which was quite worth the visit, and I’d flag as a “must-see” if you’ll be visiting Milan.
More scenes from Milan (click the arrow to scroll)
I’ll post more recaps from our trip soon!