Milano: a home away from home

Next stop on our trip was Italy. We stayed in Milano for a few nights so we could spend time with family and visit some nearby cities before heading up north to Luino. Milano has a special place in my heart, as I spent a semester living here when I was in my third year of Italian studies a few years back. When I wasn’t studying, I was walking, eating and shopping my way through the city or travelling to nearby cities. I’ve already seen all the sites, so I wanted to spend a day just enjoying my favourite places and doing a bit of shopping.

When we lived in Milano we actually had an apartment on the Naviglio Grande. So when looking for a hotel we decided to book one not far from there. We found a boutique hotel, Navigliotel 19. I don’t usually mention hotels but I wanted to tell you about this one because we really enjoyed our short stay here.  Navigliotel 19 is a family-run business that offers clean, modern rooms and a really great breakfast. Normally Italian hotels offer some stale bread or toast biscuit with some jam for breakfast. However, at this hotel, we were offered a buffet of fresh juices, fruit, cheeses, cold meats, yoghurts, egg dishes, biscuits and homemade cakes. The lovely staff will also make you a cappuccino or tea. I found the owners and the staff extremely helpful and friendly and were genuinely interested in having a chat. I would definitely stay with them again.


So since I only had one day in Milano, I wanted to see the beautiful Duomo again in the centre of the city. This grand cathedral is just stunning to look at. The luminous structure sharply contrasts against its background, making it look heavenly. Up close you can see the great detail of carvings that continue all the way around and on top of the cathedral. To get a better look at the carvings and a great view of the city you pay to go on the roof top. I did this already so I may bring out a future post with some of my photos on top and inside the church. The interior of the church is also stunning, just remember to be appropriately dressed.


In the Piazza del Duomo is another amazing structure, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This 150- year old Galleria is so beautiful inside you almost don’t know where to look. There is marble patterned floors, Renaissance frescoes, carved window treatments and a stunning glass ceiling. The Galleria is also lined with restaurants, high-end fashion stores, bookshops and the Turismo Milano.


Just around the corner from Piazza del Duomo is one of our favourite places for a snack. Luini makes the most delicious Pugliese speciality, panzerotti. These are like a small fried or baked hand-held canzone. There is a huge range of savoury flavours and a few sweet ones as well. They also sell a range of other Pugliese specialities.

When ever we would visit Luini they usually have a line out the door. Luckily we were early so we didn’t have to wait. I got my favourite flavour, tomato, onion and olives and Marco and Octavia got spicy salami and ham and cheese. There is nowhere to sit out the front of the store so we went to our usual spot, Piazza della Scala. This spot is right behind the Galleria and has a monument to the great Leonardo da Vinci. It also houses the Teatro della Scala (opera house), which is quite stunning inside.


Milano has some of the best shopping in Europe, in terms of variety and pricing, especially during sale time. We initially decided to go to Corso Buenos Aires, which was actually where our first apartment was. This long strip biggest shopping street in Milano, where you can find everything. However, we were already in the centre so we decided just to walk nearby to Via Torino. This street is wall to wall with shops and is probably a little cheaper since they aren’t flagship stores. You can also find more unique brands then just the larger designer ones. This street runs from Piazza del Duomo all the way to Ticinese district (near Navigli). For more shopping districts check out this link.


Something I really noticed this trip that was that the health and vegan revolution has made it all the way to Milano. There are so many juice bars, vegan restaurants and vegan options available. A few years back when I was living here when I would ask for a cappuccino di soya I would get laughed at. There were only two cafe chains that I knew off that I could get my morning coffee. So when we needed to stop for a bite along Via Torino we stopped by Eatme & Go for a healthy lunch. They offer fresh juices, gelato, pastries, panini, warm meals and salad. I couldn’t believe how many vegan meals and dessert they offered.  I was anxious to get something healthy in my toddler so we ordered some juices, vegan melanzane all parmigiana and lasanga alla bolognese. Everything was really tasty and fresh.


After a big day of shopping and a rest, we were excited to go back to see our old neighbour Navigli. We actually lived on the Naviglio Grande while I was studying here. We were lucky enough to borrow an apartment from my Aunty.

The canal is lined with restaurants, gelaterias and aperativo bars. Aperativo is a place where you can go for drinks with friends. Food is offered complimentary. So you can imagine for students ordering a 8 euro cocktail and getting a free buffet was amazing. They offer pastas, pizzas, cold meats, cheeses and desserts and it’s all good quality too.


For dinner we wanted to try somewhere we have never been before in Navigli. So we decided on Osteria del Gnocco Fritto. This restaurant is known for its gnocco fritto, (fried bread shaped like a jumbo ravioli) as well as cheeses, cold cut meats and tigelle. They also serve a range of homemade pastas and desserts.

The bottomless basket for gnocco fritto was really good and was Octavia’s favourite. I ordered my favourite Tortelli del zucca (pumpkin) and sheep cheese, Marco had the Pappardelle with the boar sauce and my aunt had the mixed cold meats. Everything was so damn delicious.


For dessert, we went to our favourite place, Rinomata Gelateria. There are many gelaterias along the canal that serve Nutella crepes and Marco has tried them all. After all his ‘research’, Rinomata was he’s the first choice. They were just as good as they use to be. They also have a great range of artisan gelati, but I was just too full.


Before leaving Milano for good we went to a dinner closer to where some of my family in Brugherio. Ristorante Le Bacchette d’Oro (formerly known as Il Sole), serves Japanese, Korean and Chinese as well as Italian cuisine. In Australia, this would be a bad match, but here it works. All the cuisines are prepared authentically, so patrons can order eastern dishes in an Italian friendly environment or stick to what they know. This is my families favourite restaurant, so we have been here many times and the food is always good.


So that was a brief day and a bit that we spent in Milano. For our remaining time in Italy, we visited smaller cities that were only a short drive away. Those will be coming up in my next posts. I may also post some photos when we were living here to show you some more of Milano.

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