Likes & Dislikes


“Not necessarily a negative, but might be a bit disappointing to a lot of people: Milan isn’t really a true Italian city. The atmosphere is closer to European cities further north, rather than to the great Southern Italian cities. There’s none of the shouting you get in somewhere like Naples, for instance, and we look in vain for the narrow streets and almost convergent upper-story balconies. Milan has somehow become very international. (2017)

“Milan is not among my favorite cities. I’ve been several times, but for some reason it’s never grown on me. There’s plenty to see, but I’ve never been able to enjoy myself the way I do in other Italian cities. Florence, Siena and Rome all mean much more to me. At the same time, I’d never discourage anyone from visiting, since there’s so much to see.

The cathedral is of course a must-see, and the square in front of it is the heart of Milan. This always bustles with life and big crowds, but be aware that it’s also full of irritating street vendors. The cathedral itself is breathtaking – truly an unmissable sight – but I think (If I’m allowed to say so) it looks best from the outside. Directly off this square opens the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a ‘covered arcade’ lined with world-famous fashion brands. As everyone knows, Milan is the international capital of fashion, so anyone in love with fashion will feel right at home here. A parade of tourists line up to get their photo taken in front of the window displays of Prada, Armani or Gucci. The prices, on the other hand… well, the sky’s the limit.

A short walk takes us to the building of the Scala, which, if I’m honest, was a bit of a disappointment. It’s a small building, and has by Italian standards a very plain exterior. Just from looking at it, you wouldn’t have any great expectations of artistic excellence. The trams, on the other hand, are great: you can travel around the downtown area aboard these nostalgic old vehicles for pennies. Public transport is cheap in general, and the downtown area doesn’t cover a large area.

The Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco) is the old castle of Milan, and is within walking distance of the cathedral. This is definitely worth visiting, first because the castle itself is beautiful, and also because it’s great to relax for an hour or two on the enormous green space around it.

One of Milan’s main attractions is football, especially at the San Siro. I’m not the biggest football fan in the world, but I still had to see a match here. The atmosphere is indescribable – the Italian fans put – even the ultras – put on quite a show. Even when we were hundreds of meters from the stadium I could feel the ground shake – a foretaste of what it would be like inside. I watched AC Milan play Roma, and the final score was 2-2. It was one of the greatest sporting experiences of my life. The san Siro itself is a giant concrete bunker, and plays host to both AC Milan and Inter. I’d describe it as impressive rather than beautiful.

I like markets, and in most cities I dedicate a little time to exploring small, local markets. Milan was no exception. There’s a little market near the Wagner metro station which is relatively free of tourists because it’s a little way out from the city center, but that just makes it all the more popular with locals. Italian markets have a very unique character, and it’s something everyone should experience once in their lifetime. I love the way it’s completely normal to shout and gesticulate wildly, and it’s great to watch Italian housewives haggle. Last but not least, you can eat a fabulous meal here. (2016)



The 24-hour ticket for EUR 4.50 is highly recommended, as the single journey costs EUR 1.50. Attention, an extra ticket for 1.50 EUR is required for luggage.

Milan - old tram still in use - a-p- photo

Milan - Metro in an off-peak hour - c.r. photo

Milan - taxi - n.m. photo

Milan - Close encounter on the Milan kind - v.j. photo



Milan - the classic Cotoletta Milanese, a tender veal cutlet coated in crunchy breadcrumbs fried in butter - e.m. photo

Milan - Panzerotto, pillowy fried dough parcel stuffed with tomato and mozzarella - p.s. photo


One of Europe's most expensive and exclusive shopping streets is Via Montenapoleone (get off at the metro station of the same name) - all top brands are here: Armani, Gucci, Cartier, etc.


“I tried to walk into the biggest fashion brand boutiques as naturally as possible, where I tried on a few pairs of sunglasses that cost as much as a person on minimum wage might earn in a year, and felt the bags, the clothes… Eventually, I reached a level, at the Dior shop, where they did not even bother to show price tags, though I did see one unmissable bargain: a handbag about the size of a loaf of bread was reduced from €6,995 to €6,495. It soon became clear that one of the unbreakable rules of such stores is: no photography! So by the time I stepped into the perfume Mecca of La Rinascente, which opens from the street next to the Galleria, I already knew that if I wanted a picture, I would have to be smart, fast, and discreet.
Arab women in headscarves, excited African children, Asian tourists pointing and chattering, and middle-aged Italian women clutching their bottles of luxury perfume and make-up products. The salespeople (if that term isn’t too lowbrow for them) all have the same uniform, with the same make-up and the same unflappable smiles – were enthusiastically spraying and painting their clientele to help them choose which composition or shade to choose. Maybe all of them, if that is the customer’s whim… Instead of a shopping basket, a sort of elongated shopping bag can hold a hundred sticks of lipstick, nail polish, eyeliner, etc. Escalators take you up to the first, second, and third floors. Armani, Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik. The runways beckon, and everyone will be a model on them. There is even a silk scarf for five hundred. That’s euros, to be clear.” (2014)

Milan - The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the oldest active shopping mall in Italy- t.s. photo

Milan - Mercato di Viale Papiniano, a popular open-air market - h.r. photo


Most of the bars, nightclubs and Discotheks are in the Brea area, in Corso Garibaldi, Corso Como, in the areas of  Naviglio Grande, Naviglio Pavese,  Corso Porta Ticinese.

Milan - Navigli (interconnected canals) - w.k. photo

Public safety

Watch out for bag snatchers, pickpockets, and crooks in Milan. Many hawkers offer you corn kernels (to feed the pigeons) or a lousy bracelet in front of the Cathedral. Do not accept their offers, as they try to cheat you with ridiculously high prices.  In the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, it is risky to buy anything from illegal vendors.


“We set off along the castle wall, looking for the entrance, when a young black man came up to us. I knew exactly what he wanted.
“My friend! My friend! Do you want one?” He spoke with a wide, playful smile, his white teeth gleaming just as he held some colorful thread bracelets in front of us. Don’t imagine that this was a beautiful, handcrafted piece of work, but just two or three threads wound together. If you show any interest and don’t immediately send them packing, they hang on to you like a leech and don’t leave you alone until you buy something from them. In fact, in the short term, they’ll even follow you, chatting away to see if you change your mind. This is the better case. It gets worse if there are several of them at once, when, with a noble simplicity, they stand around and blackmail you into buying this worthless junk for a totally unrealistic sum (20-30 euros).
I was in the square in front of the Duomo that year, with an Indian-looking, kind-looking uncle pressing a handful of wheat seeds into my hand so I could feed the radish pigeons from that hand. By the time I woke up, a group of pigeons had started onto the seeds slamming from my hand. After throwing the remaining wheat grains, I would have just thanked Uncle for the gesture when the smile suddenly disappeared from his face, and as a cruel mafia leader called for me to pay for the seeds right away, it cost him money, and I had to reimburse him for his loss.
I was walking through the square in front of the Duomo when I was approached by a pleasant-looking old guy of what looked like Indian origin. He pressed a handful of seed into my hand, so I could feed by hand the scruffy-looking pigeons which populate the square. Before I knew what was happening, a flock of pigeons was greedily pecking the seeds straight from my hand. I scattered the remainder of the seed on the ground, then turned to the man to thank him for the kind gesture. At that moment, the smile abruptly disappeared from his face, and like a ruthless mafia don, he told me that I had to pay for the seeds at once: they had cost him money, and it was necessary for me to compensate him for the loss.
This absurd situation became serious when the man’s big, scary-looking companion appeared next to him, and both of them started demanding €20 in exchange for the seeds. While inwardly, I was more than a little alarmed by all this l, I tried to act confidently and not let myself be intimidated. At last, I handed over about €2, and that brought the story to an end. They were visibly unhappy with the loot, one of them came after me a little when I turned and walked away with what I hope was an inscrutable expression, but eventually, he gave up. Moving away, I could still hear them cursing me for a long time…” (2016)


“Hey, Angelina! I’m Brad Pitt!” a chubby Italian with a whitened face, wearing a curly wig. I was trying to fix my sunglasses at the time and trying to focus on a 3mm screw so that I couldn’t hurry away. In an instant, he had already dragged me by the wrist to his companion, who introduced himself as Leonardo DiCaprio. As a firm believer that honesty is the best policy, I told them I was sorry, but I didn’t have any money. At once, their enthusiasm visibly subsided, but their golden teeth flashed at me, and they still smiled a little.” (2014)

Milan - combined law enforcement - f.m. photo


1. Most of the locals in Milan have little or no command of English. Luckily, by speaking with hands and feet, you can communicate as the locals are helpful and patient.  In the city center, it is much easier to find people who speak good English.


Destination in brief

Population (in 2020): 3.1 million

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 1650 Euro -  (Italy average: 1450 Euro)



Milan - rain - e.k. photo


Milanese people eat polenta - cooked corn. Their tasteless food corresponds well with their characteristics: lukewarm, selfish, closed, and thinking only about money. Are they genuine Italians? They are like Germans with their blue eyes, trains running on time, and business mentality. Their only difference from Germans is that they pretend to be Italian and look down on the poorer Southern Italians." 



Milan - Risotto alla milanese - g.t. photo

Milan - Ossobuco with gremolata - k.n. photo

Milan - Cassoeula, pork and savoy cabbage dish - m.g. photo


Cathedral (Duomo)

Milan - Cathedral (Duomo di Milano) - n.c. photo

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci – Santa Maria delle Grazie

Milan - Santa Maria delle Grazie, a church&convent which houses The Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci- s.g. photo

Milan - Santa Maria Delle Grazie - Last supper - a mural painting - e.s. photo

Milan - Last supper - a sharper look - m.k. photo

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