Fashionable Milan might have shortcomings—but it’s worth the trip
Epaulets, exquisite cashmere, Ermenegildo Zegna, all encompass the city known more for fashion and commerce than physical beauty. There are no canals, no Renaissance squares or Roman ruins. The city is industrialized, crowded and expensive. But don’t be deterred. There are things here that will surprise you.
For starters, prepare for your arrival into Milano Centrale station by not wearing too-tight yoga pants, fanny pack and white sneakers. Not that you should care what other people think. But you are in the city of Gucci, so you might as well try to look effortlessly chic. Exit the train to find a sea of black suits, men groomed with slick dark hair and many pairs of oversized glasses covering women’s delicate faces. And the stilettos. Lots of 4-inch heels easily walking through the station. How do they do it? They’re Italian.
Originally a trading center founded by the Romans in 222 BC, Milan is still THE place the entire world travels to for luxury goods. Boutiques beckon with their fine gauge sweaters and silk ties. Scout out which stores you’d like to window-shop in before committing your entire paycheck away.
Mark Twain visited the Milan Cathedral, and upon seeing the masterwork said, “What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful!” With its 135 spires, the church is the 4th largest in the world and took over 500 years to build. You too can tour the wonder. Head to the roof and get a better look at the delicate flying buttresses and openwork pinnacles.
The Teatro alla Scala, or as it’s more commonly referred to,“La Scala,” is one of the world’s leading opera and ballet houses. A museum documenting the theater’s history contains an extraordinary collection of paintings, drafts, statues, costumes, and other documents. In recent years, the theater has been renovated to improve sound quality. Now that’s music to your ears.
For many, the main reason to visit Milan is to witness the DaVinci iconic masterpiece, "The Last Supper." In order to enter Santa Maria della Grazie, you’ll need to purchase tickets in advance to view the most visited painting in all of Italy.
Need a break from the frenetic pace of city life? Take your designer duds and new appreciation for opera and art and hop on board the high speed train to Como. In just over 30 minutes, you’ll be in the land known as Lago di Como. The sparkling lake is surrounded by sophisticated towns: Bellagio, Tramezzo, Varenna. Take a boat out into the middle and marvel at the surrounding vistas. And maybe a sighting of George Clooney.
Milan is the perfect start to cover Italy from top to pointy toe. And with a Eurail Italy Pass, you’ll see more, feel more, taste more. Go for the gusto. And look chic doing it.
Contributed by: Mick, Rail Europe French Bilingual Staff, studied in France and became a nomad backpacker in Europe.