Since some European low-cost carriers have introduced flights to Podgorica airport and several travel agencies organize city trips to different countries in Europe, it is much easier and cheaper to travel from Montenegro. Among many possibilities, we booked 4 days to Milan, i.e. Milano, with a direct Wizz Air flight and a two-star hotel in the city centre; the price was 165 Euro only – more than reasonable.
Why was Milano our choice? Knowing that this huge city cannot compete with the cultural highlights of Rome or Florence, we were told that Milano is particularly beautiful in December, with its magic Christmas decorations and fantastic shop windows.
After a short and comfortable flight, it was easy to get to the city centre by shuttle bus. Our hotel was situated near the central train station, not far from the most important tourist attractions. As we always do, we strolled around Milano on foot, which is by far the best way to get familiar with the atmosphere and the inhabitants of a city.
And it was exactly the festive atmosphere that struck us most. Especially in the afternoon and in the evening, the streets were full of relaxed people, walking around or drinking their aperitif on one of the heated terraces on the squares. We saw elegant women, admiring the fanciful display windows of ‘Dolce & Gabanna’ and Asian tourists, making selfies at each decorated corner. Street musicians and acrobats were entertaining the public with much success and even the dogs on the street were dressed in fancy creations…
Yes, Milano is one of the richest cities in Europe. But the inhabitants of Milano are not only rich, they are also creative, stylish and most of them wear high-quality and high-fashion clothing. What a contrast with the numerous beggars, junkies and homeless old people sleeping on the street!
One of the highlights of our visit was the ‘Galleria Vittorio Emanuele I’, the oldest shopping mall in the world. It was opened in 1867 and it is famous for its big glass cupola and its beautiful mosaic floors. And in this time of the year, there is a huge Christmas tree in the middle – made by Swarovski -, while the complete cupola roof is illuminated in a magic way. As to the shops, don’t expect to see any prices in the showcases of ‘Prada’, ‘Louis Vuitton’ or ‘Fendi’. Europe’s elite does’n care for prices! They do not only love to go shopping in the ‘Galleria’, but also in Via Spiga, Via Monte Napoleone and other streets of the ‘Quadrilatero della Moda’. Strolling though these decorated top shopping streets was a great experience, as the display windows were, without exception, real works of art.
The main tourist attraction of Milano is the Duomo, one of the biggest Gothic cathedrals of the world. As we had already purchased an entrance ticket online, we didn’t have to wait in the queue. The security checks at the entrance were rigorous and the square was full of police and military patrols. The fear of a terrorist attack is also present here.
What to say about the Duomo? Its construction started in the 14th century, but it is not finished yet. With 135 towers and 3,400 statues, it can accept 40,000 people. The interior is huge and dark, but the Gothic stained glass windows are fabulous. For us, the most impressive experience was a walk over the roof that could be reached with an elevator. Here we could see hundreds of statues, not only saints, but also dragons, monsters, strange animals…. A master piece of architecture and art!
But Milano has much more to offer: the famous theatre La Scala; the San Carlo al Corso church; Porta Venezia, one of the historical city gates; the San Babila Church, the Sforza Castle, built in the 15th century, and its beautiful gardens…
The fact that the tourist attractions are all located within walking distance made it easy to visit them all. What a pity that we could not visit Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ that can be seen in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church… Tickets must be purchased weeks earlier, in advance, as a maximum of 25 persons only can enter the refectory every 15 minutes in order to protect the painting.
We also made a walking tour along medieval churches that showed us another part of the city and we visited the restaurant on the top of the famous department store La Rinascente, which offered a great view of the Duomo and the surrounding buildings.
Time flew by and we had to take the shuttle bus to the airport very early in the morning. Our last Milano experience was a sad one – in the bitter cold, with temperatures far below zero, many homeless people slept on the thresholds of train station doors, in the open air.
Although Milano doesn’t offer many spectacular historical and cultural sights, as centre of fashion and design, it is Italy’s third most visited city after Rome and Venice. We spent a wonderful time in Milano; the city is really worth a visit!