Capital of fashion, capital of northern Italy and an industrial centre – but frankly; this place is rather grim…
Some of the buildings here would rival the worst construction atrocities to be found in East Berlin; judging from the age I would guess that most of the worst is post war, and possibly built at speed – a similar fate suffered by many English cities – but England has made good attempts to correct the horrors of 60”s construction; Milan seems to soldier on, or at least lag behind. Added to this grim construction is the cities near addiction to the colour grey; subways, walls, the lower part of buildings – grim. grim, grim and it must be even worse in the misty winter nights.
One final note of grimness: the city is plagued by graffiti – making the place look scruffy, but at least it adds some colour …
So, what”s good; well, the transport system is fantastic, metro, trams and buses; all dirt cheap, clean and regular.
The Duomo (cathedral) is a sight to behold – like a giant wedding cake – ornate beyond the wildest dreams.
The shopping is good – but frankly; it is everywhere these days, and there is not much here that you can”t get anywhere else.
There are some good bars (bottom end of Corso Sempione) and come early evening; many do a happy hour – which means you get a free/ included buffet with your drink.
The final plus point for Milan is the roads out of it; it”s an excellent jumping off point for the Italian lakes.
The nearest big lake is Como, the town of Como being about 40 minutes by train from Milan. All of lake Como is dramatic; being steep sided and mountainous. The lake is in the shape of an inverted Y, and gets more dramatic the further north you go.
At the apex of the Y is the town of Bellagio, popularly considered to be the prettiest village in Italy – hard to disagree, but it is very touristy.
The best way to Bellagio is to take the train to Varena, on the east side of the lake – about an hour and ten minutes from Milan – and then ferry across.
Tip; getting to Bellagio from Como is possible, but check your return, the boats can get very busy and you could spend longer getting back than you planned…
Varena itself is quite pretty and worth an hour or so of your time.