What to do in Milan when you have roughly 24 hours? First time visit!
Thanks so my friend Elisa who moved there just a few months ago, I had this hotel recommendation that was quiet central. Walking distance to where Milanese life is happening at night and just a bit further to the Duomo.
It was also my first time in a long time – I am talking about 12-15 years – that I was travelling on my own… and it did scare the sh.. out of me. How can that be?? When I was so much younger, I travelled to Hong Kong, to mainland China – just to mention a couple – on my own. I moved to Cape Town in my mid twenties. Alone. I didn’t hesitate to just walk. Walk and discover the cities. What happened to this fearless, adventurous girl? She became a scared, nervous woman. Oh and a woman without any sense of direction, who can’t even distinguish right and left.. So, how am I going to find my way?
Well, the good news is, I did and I am safely back home without getting lost! So, hopefully this was the start to becoming less scared and more adventurous again. I told myself: worst case scenario, just take a taxi back to the hotel. By all means.. Milan is not Johannesburg where one turn can lead you right into an area that you might not want to end up in.
I arrived there late afternoon and that evening was already planned anyway. Elisa picked me up from the hotel and we went to the nearby Navigli to get a drink, some food and catch up. We both lived in Cape Town nine years ago, so there was plenty to talk about. The area is not all what I imagined Milan to be like.. Did you know that Milan has quite a few canals? So, along these canals are restaurants and bars. The streets were full of people on this warm summer night. I think the Italians only really got out as we left already. The 4-day wedding was taking its toll on me and by 10h30 pm I was dead tired. That’s about dinner time for the Italians, I guess.
So, the next morning I was brave enough to face my fear and make my own way to see the Duomo. Of course I would have walked into the wrong direction if not Elisa had shown me the way the evening before.. on google maps at least. Maybe next time I should just walk into the opposite direction than what my gutt feeling is telling me – then it will be right! Voilá, I made it to the famous Duomo of Milan (which was in fact smaller than I pictured it to be).
The best part is that most other highlights of Milan are actually all around the Duomo. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II with its impressive glass dome, the world’s most famous opera house La Scala and of course all shops that you can possibly imagine.
My verdict about Milan: I think 24 hours to 48 hours is enough to get an idea of what it is about. Stay longer if you want to spend more money shopping or have a local who can show you around and show you the hidden gems. If you are “just” a visitor to see the main sightseeing highlights, then that’s more than enough.
I’m happy I stayed that extra night after the wedding, since Milan was a city I wanted to see for a long time. On top of that, I managed to overcome my fear of getting lost when only having a city map book and no sense of direction. So… what will be the next city trip??? I have to make a plan now that I know I can!