Milan: Rest and Relaxation in the Working City


Fashion and design are the two most common keywords people think about when they think of Milan. However, the city is much more than upscale clothing and fancy design schools. It truly is a working city. As the industrial, commercial, and financial capitol of Italy, it is one of the biggest economic centers in all of Europe.

As busy as Milan is, we took the opportunity to rest among the hustle and bustle of the city. My wife's former co-worker had moved to Milan from Seattle a little over a year ago and he offered a room in his apartment for us to stay in! So, we had wonderful downtown lodging and a very gracious host.

Although there is much to see in Milan, admittedly, we only saw a small piece of what the city has to offer.

To-Do List:

Day One

Our train ride from Venice to Milan felt very short. We managed to get some seats in the comfort car. It wasn't a particularly scenic ride, especially since it was cloudy and rainy the whole time...

We arrived at Milano Centrale later in the afternoon. It's one of the more grandiose train stations we had been in. As soon as we stepped outside, we knew we were in a more modern town.

We walked along the road to meet our host and unload our bags at our apartment room. The apartment was located right outside of the Repubblica metro stop on Piazza della Repubblica. Needless to say, this was a very nice area to stay in!

After dropping off our bags and catching up with old friends, we hopped on the metro towards Piazza del Duomo.

Once at the piazza, we were surrounded by two of the main tourist attractions on our list: the Duomo di Milano Terraces and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

Unfortunately, we were a little too late to see visit the terraces of the Duomo. Instead, we made our way through the ritzy shops along the inside of the Galleria Vittorio.

In my research of the city, I came across an article about a Milanese snack named panzerotto. A panzerotto is donut-style dough folded over some combination of mozzarella, tomato sauce, and meat. The whole thing is fried, giving it a crispy and delicious exterior.

One of the more popular places to get this dish is at a place named Luini, which is located in the backstreets of the Galleria Vittorio.

The place was busy, but we didn't wait too long. For a delicious, cheap, and quick snack in Milan, a panzerotto from Luini is perfect!


After munching on our deep-fried snacks, we walked around in search of coffee. For no reason at all, we grabbed a table at Emporio Armani Caffe. I didn't know Armani was in the restaurant business, so it was definitely interesting.

I can't say the coffee was any good, but the prices certainly felt "Armani". However, it was a nice vibe in the cafe and the waitress treated us very well.

Right outside the cafe is the Monumento a Sandro Pertini, a monument built in 1990 to honor the seventh president of the Italian Republic. It's a large cube of steps where folks sit and hang out.

After our coffee, we ended up taking the metro all the way out to a neighborhood named Cimiano. Our destination? Filipino food! Tired of the bread and pasta, we decided to give into our cravings for Filipino rice dishes at a restaurant named Cabalen Ini.

As soon as we sat down, we felt at home! The Filipino Channel (TFC) was playing Tagalog dramas on the TV while patrons ate and drank in the large cafeteria-like dining room.

Not to mention, the chicken adobo and lumpia were absolutely delicious! A wonderful break from the French and Italian food we'd been eating thus far.

When we were done with dinner, we rode the metro all the way back to Republica.

We met up with our host for beers and catch-up time at a bar named The Friends. It was a wonderful English pub with a wide selection of beer. It was a nice way to end our evening!

Day Two

Early in the morning, we walked down to the Brera neighborhood for a Milanese Walking Food Tour! It was a 3-hour walking tour with stops at various restaurants and shops showcasing different foods in the city of Milan.

Our tour guide was very informative.  Having studied in many different cities in Italy, he knew a lot about the history of the region, including its culinary history.

We started our tour with pastries at a popular local bakery named Forno Di Brera. It was extremely busy, with tourists and locals alike, grabbing espresso and pastries on the way to work. We sampled several different pastries, including cannoncini!

The sun began to shine as we made our way west to the next restaurant. It was a small deli named Parma and Co. Here, we enjoyed a heartier sampling of prosciutto and a their award-winning culatello! Tuscan bread and a bottle of beer accompanied the samples.

After finishing our meat and beer, we walked much farther on one of the main streets in Brera. All along the way, our tour guide pointed out the diversity of restaurants in the neighborhood.

Eventually, we made it into an old shop named Rossi and Grassi. This little grocery store offered rare foods and delicacies from various parts of Europe. Not all of it looked particularly appetizing, but it was interesting to see what the store had to offer.

For our group, the restaurant offered up a unique, "to-go" version of Risotto alla Milanese. Rather than cooked and served in sauce, the risotto was deep fried with melted cheese in the middle. It had wonderful texture and a cheesy, buttery filling!

We made our way up north through some of the more expensive living quarters in Brera. Many fancy boutiques and high-ceiling condos lined the narrow streets of this neighborhood.

The next place on our tour was a visit to one of the oldest pasta-makers in the city of Milan. It's a small shop named Pastificio Moscova.

For our group, we were treated to a healthy serving of eggplant lasagna, meatballs, and loads of olive bread. After a visit to this shop, we were very full!

As the sun continued to shine up above, we walked the streets along former canals to a bar named TakeAway Bistrot. Since it was getting closer to lunch, we were offered some chips and olives along with our choice of apertif.

My apertif of choice was a local drink named bicicleta, which is a bitter drink made with a local liqueur named Camprari. I'm not a fan of cocktails, but this one wasn't overly sweet in any way. I enjoyed it!

Our next stop was an old, family winery named Enoteca Cotti. The owner, who is a second-generation wine enthusiast, offered us a sample of wine from his family's vineyard outside of Milan.

Not only does the shop sell wine, but other alcoholic beverages as well. One of these is a strong liquor named grappa, which is made from distilling the leftovers of winemaking. Interestingly enough, one way to sample grappa is to spray it into your mouth like perfume!

No Italian food tour would be complete without a serving of gelato! Our tour guide took us to a popular gelateria franchise named LatoG. The shop is known for its unique flavors and hip decor.

While it wasn't the absolute best gelato I've had, it was great to eat something cold in the sunshine!

Unfortunately for me, I got a really bad migraine right after the food tour. After saying our goodbyes to the group, we made our way back to the apartment.

Then, for the rest of the afternoon and evening, I laid in bed trying to sleep away the pain.

Day Three

When I woke up, I realized I had completely missed out on dinner. Our host cooked up some sausage and fennel pasta, which was very good. I ate a lot of it for breakfast in the morning!

For a good bulk of the morning, we enjoyed the views from our apartment and continued to lay around. We called this phenomenon the "apartment blackhole".

When we finally got ourselves to go outside, we took one of the infamous Milan trams back to the Piazza del Duomo.

This time, we were able to buy tickets to the terraces of the Duomo di Milano! We opted for lift tickets, since we were quite lazy from laying around earlier in the day.

Completed in 1805, the tall Gothic spires of the Duomo di Milano are heavily decorated with small sculptures and detailed arches. It's amazing to see such detailed architecture up close!

A short walk up some spiral stairs took us up to the roof of the cathedral. Many people could be found laying or sitting along the slanted rooftop, soaking in the rays of the sun while gazing at the city skyline!

On the way down, we managed to capture some views of the piazza down below.

While we had already visited the Galleria Vittorio the day before, we decided to walk back through more of the shops we missed out on. Turns out, this is one huge shopping center!

After wandering around, we made our way to Santa Maria presso San Satiro. This little church has an altar in the front with perspective illusion decor behind it. It gives viewers of the altar a sense of depth, which isn't actually real!

After saying a quick prayer and making an offering, we walked down Corso Genova towards the canal neighborhood of Navigli. It’s a hip street, with many nice restaurants and bars. Seemed like there were a lot of young people hanging out in this area.

Needing a quick boost, we took a caffeine break in a coffee shop named Primus. It was a great place to people-watch, as many people walked by, making their way towards the canals.

Energized and ready to eat dinner, we continued on to Navigli. While they aren't as active as the canals in Venice, the canals in Navigli are still used by boats in neighborhood. The area houses some of the best restaurants in the city. Naturally, it's where we wanted to eat our last meal in Milan.

The streets were extremely crowded with people trying to find dinner! We wandered along Alzaia Naviglio Grande for a bit until we finally settled on a restaurant named Luca e Andrea. It was a bit chilly and windy, but we sat outside since seating was very limited.

We began our meal with beer and wine. Then, we shared a plate of Risotto alla Milanese, in all its buttery glory! Along with our risotto, we shared a dish of beef steak, vegetables, and potatoes. It was similar to a fajita mix in a hot skillet.

 Since this was going to be our last city in Italy, we decided the only way to end our tour of the country was to have some gelato. Ironically, we ended up getting gelato at a French cafe named Gelateria Amorino. Even though it wasn't an Italian cafe, we still enjoyed our last dessert in Italy!

A Relaxing End to Italy

While we didn't get to see too much of the sights in Milan, I was very grateful to our hosts for providing us such a comfortable place to get some much-needed rest. It's fun to go out and see many sights in marathon-like fashion, but it's also nice to lay around and relax for a bit.

I'll definitely have to return to Milan, healthy and well-rested. I'm sure there's more to this city than I was able to explore.

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