When my sister came to stay: Part Two Milan.

(This turned out to be rather a long post sorry- but there's lots to see in Milan, it's not just all shops ya know)

My Sister's visit of course wouldn't be complete without a trip to Milan.

Now, I don't actually live in Milan (sometimes I just say I do because it's easier and sounds cooler) but it's not far away- just over half an hour on the train. This means I've gone there enough times to know roughly my way around- the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuale e.t.c but I still need a map and it's still VERY likely I will get lost.

We started off on my usual route, coming from the Porta Garibaldi station and walking down Corso Como, which has become the place to be in recent years (so I'm told).

We had to by pass my usual stop at 10 Corso Como because it was closed because of the whole August thing (so annoying) all so we went in EATALY instead (do you get it?).

Very clever pun I think

So. Much. Food.

Basically like a massive M and S food hall, but even better! They have different sections like a kind of market for vegetables and fruit, cheese, meats, pastas, biscuits and CHOCOLATE- just look at this fountain!

I wanted to put my face in it

It all looks so good, but of course it's a little pricey so we mainly just admired   drooled over the food from afar.

They also have resturants and food stalls serving 3 course meals, a champagne bar, sushi (Milan seems to be obsessed with the stuff!), piadines and their own ice-cream. I think there's a cookery school in there somewhere too.

And last but not least, sometimes they have bands playing.

Pretty cool place eh?

The sight of all that food was beginning to make our tummys' rumble so we carried on down the journey to the centre with an aim to get some lunch...at some point.

But first on the agenda was the Duomo, passing this lovely man on the way...
Only in Milan would a fashion house own some grass

The Duomo

I love the Duomo. I think it is the most spectacular cathedral I've ever seen, all gothic and spiky and just dark and gloomy enough inside to feel some kind of imposing, godly power.

But strangely, despite it's striking magnificance it remains hidden in the square, obscured by the surrounding buildings so that it's not visable until the very last moment, when you turn the corner, then BAM!

And there it is in all it's glory.

Not surprisingly really that it took over 500 years to build.

We didn't actually go in as, as I've mentioned before, my sister isn't into the whole culture thing and so the 500-year build, architectural masterpeice couldn't quite compete with the pull of Pizza. I didn't mind too much, I'd been in before and I'll probably go again, but here's a few attractions to look out for.

1). This sexy guy is Saint Bartholomew and I read somewhere (ok it was Wikepedia shush) that the thing over his shoulders is supposed to be his skin. I'd always wondered why he looked so creepy. 
What a lovely statue...

2). Another creepy thing to look out for are the various dead bishops/preists. The hands that you can see are his real hands! And you can even see his head protruding from the mask. So gross.
3). There's also some 500 year old dead guy downstairs in an equally creepy crypt. You can't see any of this one but his head is turned to look directly at you.

It sends shivers down your spine!

By the way, if you're planning to visit there are some things you should know:
a). There are some scary looking guards in camoflauge with guns (why they think thats necessary I don't know) who will not let you in if you are in shorts/dress/strappy top. Unlike other places they're very strict about it, so just make sure you bring something to wrap around you.
b). You're not meant to take photographs unless you pay 2 euros to get a little band that says you're allowed. I didn't pay which is kinda sneaky I know...

After we took the posing outside the Duomo photos and were satisfied with our selfies we went off to grab some lunch.

I take pride that, although I may still look like a tourist when I whip out that map, I  know a few places off the beaten track. I had plans to take my sister to the lovely Reffetorio (great but simple food ,with a set menu at 13 euros that includes wine) but it was August so of course it was shut. Even some that are touristy were closed, like Luini's Panzerotti. So, so sad and annoying but what can you do?

Eat ice-cream and Pizza that's what.


This is where you can get a massive slice of thick, totally naughty Pizza.

There are quite a few of these dotted around the city, but the one we went to in the centre is a takeaway place rather than the usual restuarant. The restuarants I'm told, are an experience in themselves, where there's no menu, you're asked if you want big or small and then you're hurried out as soon as the last crumb is gone from your plate.

Luckily for me, one is opening in Monza so I should get to experience it properly soon (well i say soon but this is Italy so who knows).

Instead me and the sis ate ours on the kerb outside the shop.

And even better I didn't spend a penny. I mean it's not expensive anyway, about 3,50 for the slice but I'm lucky that I get lunch vouchers from work that I can use in lots of resturants and supermarkets.

Conviniently the ice-cream place is literally just around the corner from here. I've already blogged about this place before - I ciocolati italiani, so I won't bore you with all the details again. But if you don't know, they put melted chocolate in the bottom of your cone and the ice-cream is incredibly good, especially the chocolate flavours.  It may be a bit pricier than normal at 3,00 for a piccola (that's two scoops) but its definately worth it!

So is the 20 minute wait in the queue...

Full of Pizza and Ice-cream we slowly wandered waddled to the main shopping street "Corso Vittorio Emanuale" just behind the Duomo.


Milan: the ultimate home of fashion. Where models wander the sreets and there's a Prada or Gucci on every corner; the perfect place for a sister that's obsessed with clothes.

But which enevitably means a lot of shops are waaay out of the average person's price range. But it's still fun to peer in the windows, aweing over the pretty Prada bags and wondering what it would be to lead the kind of life where you could actually afford to spend 1,000 euros on just a bag.
The Galleria Vittorio Emmanuale where Prada has it's flagship store and it's mahoosive with a kind of underground vault. Think Gringotts at Harry Potter. (just replace the goblins with beautiful and immaculate sales assistants).

But there's also some shops that are more in the average person's price range like HnM and Zara, which has the most amazing entrance to a shop I've ever seen.
It's supposed to be a cascading chandalier
I also found some new loves, that we don't have in England like "Pull and Bear"- Kind of like Urban Outfitters but without the price tag.

There's also a crazy department store called Excelsior which do the best macaroons. Funny that I tried my first Macaroon here in Italy...and sushi for that matter (which is totally gross btw).

It's totally OK to go in here just for these babies

And of course, I've got to mention KIKO.  I am slightly obsessed with this place (thanks Lucy). It's pure and simply a make up shop (we just don't have these in England) with good quality make-up at reasonable prices. The assistants really know their stuff too! My sister needed some new foundation and was having that dilemma (girls you know what I'm talking about here) of picking the right shade of foundation. A sweet, slightly camp (I mean come on he was working in a make-up shop) guy came to our rescue.

He kept exclaiming "No, non mi piace!" (No I don't like it) determined to find the right one, my sister becoming increasingly worried about the amount he was putting on her face.

When he was satisfied he had found the perfect shade he produced a facewipe so she could leave the shop orange splodge free.

We went to the till, my sister armed with a basket full and me with a lipstick - my second one from here. At 3,90 it's a bargain! (and it tastes really good too!). My aim is to get the whole collection by the end of January, when I leave.

Just a word of warning about KIKO... even if you had no intention... you WILL end up buying something. Well, unless you're a guy...unless you're into that sort of thing (no judgment).

And of course a place as famous for shopping as Milan wouldn't be complete without an Abercrombie and Fitch. Way out of our price range but you know we just went there to get a picture with the model.
Those eyes...

Parco Sempione

After all this shopping (not that we actaully bought much) we were worn out, so I headed to where I normally take people when we just need a bit of a sit down. Parco Sempione.

Some random arty installation thing

I mean, you still have to walk to get there but THEN you get to relax on the grass, with a castle fit for a princess as your backdrop.

It was hot so we treated ourselves to a granite, Italy's version of a slush puppy, and spread ourselves out on the grass, watching the world go by for a bit - there are some interesting characters I can tell you. oh and we may have had a little nap too.

Feeling refreshed, we were ready for the next part of my Milan experience: cocktails!

La Rinascente

Instead of going to the bars at the far end of the park by the Arco della Pace, which would've been more convenient, seeing as we were already pretty much there, I dragged my sister back into the centre for a drink on the top floor of la Rinascente (a department store a bit like House of Fraser) that overlooked the Duomo.

It's 13 euros for a cocktail, which by Milan standards is kinda expensive, but the view and atmosphere was worth it. But it's probably just something I would leave to special occasions- like being re-united with my sister.

Slightly embarassingly touristy we went for the "Piazza Duomo".

And as usual, it was strong! I let my sister finish mine.

Then it was time to make our long journey back home, as my little Biassono doesn't have the greatest transport. I mean you can get around but it just doesn't run late, so to get back from Milan we had to get the train and the bus. It's just a bit annoying really, but I try not to let it bother me too much.

I just can't, otherwise I'd just be constant bundle of anger and irritation. A particular transport tale of woe was a couple of weekends ago. It was a Sunday, which is a bad start anyway, and I was coming back from Milan. I had to change at Monza and thought there was a train back to Biassono in around an hour. I decided to wait rather than getting the bus home straight away because my bike was still at the station in Biassono.

Only there was no train but some kind of bus, which I discovered after plucking up the courage to ask someone when I began to panic that the train with 5 minutes to go still hadn't materialised on the board. So after wasting an hour I still had to get the bus home, go to the station which is a half an hour walk (I ran all the way because it was dark and scary and I didn't want to get kidnapped) and then cycle home being chased by a thunderstorm.

So after leaving Milan at 7.30 pm I finally arrived home 3 hours later. But you know what I wasn't even annoyed!

Luckily my sister wasn't treated to the same fate and we arrived home without much hassle, ready to fall into our beds and take a well deserved lie-in.