Milan, Italy

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Milan Guide – Spend Less, Do More

Milan catedralAn obligatory trip to the Milan Cathedral, the largest cathedral in all of Italy and the fifth largest in the world, where you took turns standing in front of it getting that I-was-there snapshot. Then food was on your mind so you thought might as well visit The Last Supper at Santa Maria delle Grazie, but promptly left after realising that seeing people eat in a painting was making you hungrier and that the tourist crowds were relentless. You thought, why not a castle, everybody likes a good castle, so Sforza Castle was the next on your checklist, rounding your list out with Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world's oldest shopping mall. Is your Milan experience looking a little like this? The tiny voice in your head wondered if there was a more unique way to experience Milan, to experience it like the locals. The answer is yes.

Why join the crowds at Sforza Castle...

When part of Milan's mystique are the immaculately dressed locals at leisure. Go for a wander in one of the public parks, Parco Sempione perhaps, and indulge in some blatant people-watching. From picnics to dogs playing fetch, to even the occasional passing carnival with rides and fairy floss, relax as you soak in the daily happenings of life in Milan. Besides, you can see the castle from the park, so you can already say you've been there right?

Wander far from the maddening crowds...

And visit the Villa Necchi Campiglio where you are transported back in time, to an era of glamour and impeccable taste. Take a tour, relax by the pool at the cafe and appreciate the villa where Tilda Swinton's 2010 film I am Love was shot and ponder whether to have dinner on a tram such as the ATMosfera.

Instead of your typical evening happy hour...

Milan canal activity Aperitivi are the way to go in Milan. And they are a big deal. At around 7pm, the chairs that were empty during the day are filled with locals with their fruity concoctions. There are so many places that serve aperitivi that it's almost easier to provide you with a list of where they don't. Navigli to the Brera zone, trust your intuition and find a bar where you like the atmosphere. A good tip is to stay away from the places that advertise with the phrase 'happy hour' as you know these cater exclusively to the tourist crowd. For some traditional drink choices try a Negroni or a Spritz. Nibble on some potato chips and olives, or if your bar of choice is more elaborate, cold cuts and pizza. Prendiamo un aperitivo (let's go get some aperitivo)!

You saved a pretty penny on your hotel...

So why not splash out! You are after all in one of the world's most influential fashion capitals. Take a tour of the fashion houses, or take a personal fashion styling course. Alternatively, take yourself shopping! Try 10 Corso Como – fashion emporium, gallery, bed and breakfast, cafe, restaurant and bookstore, but be warned, the prices are not for the faint of heart. Or pick up a few items at the Quadrilatero della Moda, also known as the 'rectangle of gold'. You can always just window shop!

If you have a few days to spare, a daytrip could be on the books! Why not hire a car and take a day trip to Lake Como. The picturesque landscape must really be something, since it is where George Clooney chose to buy his house in Italy. With both lake and mountain views on a good day, what’s not to like? It water is also shaped like a letter Y!

Spend Less, Do More

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