Why Milan in a rush? Because everyone in Milan is in a rush! Joking apart, I decided to start this new column with Milan because I think it’s the most European city among all the Italian ones and being a big hub both for trains and planes, it could happen to have less than a day to visit the city while waiting for a connection.
So what you’ll find here is what I think it’s a must see and do, especially if you’re visiting Milan in a rush. Something like Eiffel tower in Paris or Colosseum in Roma: if you’re not going to see those, just don’t bother.
Where to start
If you’re reaching Milan by plane, every shuttle bus you’ll take from one of the three airports nearby will lead you to the central railway station, Stazione Centrale. If you’re coming by train, obviously, you’ll end up there too. And there’s a chance you’ll arrive in Stazione Centrale also if you come by bus, fancy that!
Stazione Centrale is also one of the main metro station in Milan so you can move freely from there in every direction you want, if you don’t want to walk. And since you’re visiting Milan in a rush, there’s no time to lose! So buy an urban daily metro ticket (biglietto urbano giornaliero) for 4,5 € and let’s go. You can buy it at the red vending machines in all metro stations (beware of beggars and gypsies, and suspicious people who want to help you) or buy them at a newsstand.
Piazza Gae Aulenti and Porta Nuova
What is it? It’s a new square (finished in 2012) of the city where you can find the new skyscraper “symbol” of Milan, the Unicredit Tower, the highest tower in Italy. It’s a very modern place, with several buildings and shops, restaurants and bars, plus some architectural goodies like a “walking through” fountain and some acoustic pipes allowing you to hear what’s happening on another floor.
Furthermore, close by you can see the Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest), two residential towers designed to host on their facade more than 900 trees and plants, on a total surface of 8,900 square meters (96.000 sq ft). They opened in late 2014 and in these years they already won several prizes for the excellence of the project. Now imagine how could look better a city with their tall buildings surrounded by trees!
To reach this square, take metro line M2 (green) from Stazione Centrale to Assago/Abbiategrasso and jump down after two stops.
Piazza del Duomo
Here you are, in the heart of Milan! The gothic cathedral in front of you is THE symbol of the city, with its gilded bronze “Madonnina” (little Virgin Mary) statue on top of it. The Duomo is the second largest church in Italy, after St. Peter in Rome, and the third overall in the world.
After being in the most modern square of Milan, the Duomo could be a sort of shock, but that’s the beauty of it. From piazza Gae Aulenti, take the metro line M1 (red) from Garibaldi station to Assago/Abbiategrasso. Three stops and in Cadorna FS you change line to the M1 line (red). Three stops again to Sesto 1° Maggio and you’re there!
When you rise up from the underground you see the majestic square and you feel the greatness of it, with the cathedral dominating the view, severe and solemn. You can visit it but it’s not free. Tickets start from 2,5 €, depending on which part you want to see (you can also go on the roof) and you can buy them here or in one of the four ticket offices around the square.
Facing the Duomo, on the left you can see Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, considered to be one of the oldest shopping malls in the world. It’s been named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of Italy, and it’s been built in the late 19th century in what is called neo-renaissance style. Milan is a shopping city so it would be sacrilegious not to have a look at this galleria!
The Darsena and the Navigli
Now it’s time to relax and the new Darsena is the perfect place to start chilling out. But first, we need to reach it so let’s take the metro again from the Duomo stop. Take the M1 red line to Rho Fieramilano/Bisceglie and after 3 stops, in Cadorna FN, change the train and take the M2 green line. The direction is Assago/Abbiategrasso, and the stop is P.ta Genova FS.
Once you’re surfaced, in front of the railway station there’s a big straight road starting (via Vigevano), just walk till the end, you’ll see the darsena in front of you. It has been recently put back in order since it was a place rather neglected. The basin has been rebuilt, new banks, a new bridge crossing the canal, new little shops on the adjacent square. You could sit on a bench looking at the ducks swimming while eating a gelato, for example, or watching the kids with their remote controlled sailing boats, turning around on the water. The work they did was huge, but now this new face is much better than before.
Next and last stop for the day is the Navigli. What are the Navigli? They are urban canals, designed centuries ago to connect Milan with river Po, lake Maggiore and lake Como, allowing a more effective way to trade between cities around, in Switzerland too.
In the late XX century, the Navigli (plural form of Naviglio) became the hot spot for Milan’s alternative nightlife, with bar ad pubs all along the banks. Now you can find also bar on barges, docked to the docks, and many university students like to hang out there on the weekend.
Either you want to eat or drink something, or only take a walk with almost no cars around, that’s the place to go, especially Naviglio Grande.
I know that there are much more things to see in Milan, like The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, but I can guarantee you that if you are visiting Milan in a rush, you’d better book way in advance!
Or, maybe you want to see what Milan can offer you for free.
Are you coming to Milan just for a few hours? Just tell me in the comment section what you’re going to do once there!
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