European travelFamily Travel

A Winter Weekend in Milan

Winter may not be everyone’s idea of the perfect season for a weekend break in Milan! But these days, we all lead busy lives and have to seize short stay travel opportunities when they arise. Moreover we have to take our chances whether or not the weather permits! And Milan offers so very much to see and do: for instance – art, culture, entertainment, architecture, restaurants….. You must not miss the chance to visit because this amazing city never fails to charm! There are two airports and plenty of inbound flights from European destinations. You can also come easily by train.


Arriving in central Milan on a Friday evening, the place was bustling. Alive with shoppers, twinklingly illuminated stylish shops and hardly a tourist in site!  In addition, style abounds here – even the city dogs saunter around exuding a certain je ne sais quoi…..

The drizzle even adds to the atmosphere – reflecting the lights on the pavements below. The ideal place to head for to get a flavour of Milan over the centuries is the phenomenal Duomo di Milano. The cathedral is absolutely magnificent. Having taken some 600 years to build you can imagine there is a lot of detail! Against a midnight blue sky, this fabulous edifice stands proud in all its glory, beautifully illuminated and majestic. The feeling that generation after generation dedicated their lives’ work to the completion of the cathedral makes you stop in your tracks. The brevity of the circle of life and the reality of life passing so very quickly rings out loud and clear when you stand in the beautiful piazza below.

Italy has style…..

Beside the cathedral, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a great place to wander and enjoy the stylish ambiance. This magnificent building houses prestigious Italian brands renowned throughout the world for their style and elegance. For example Prada, Versace to name but a few. And shop windows are adorned with understated festive touches as Christmas fast approaches. Likewise, clothing, leather luggage and jewellery are superbly displayed in glistening shop windows. And, most importantly, our four-legged friends are well catered for! Moncler even boasts a selection of puffa jackets to protect the stylish French bulldog about town from the harshest winter elements…..

The Duomo di Milano

Taking a walk into the city the following day, it was still raining, as it did throughout the whole weekend! But we couldn’t resist the idea of a walk on the rooftops of the fabulous Gothic cathedral to enjoy the spectacular views.  The queueing system with a fast track option, suggested that we might have had a long wait ahead of us. But in fact we went straight in.

On ground level, the cathedral is magnificent – a massively impressive space. Ornately adorned with intricate paintings and carvings the interior of the cathedral is remarkable. And although the building exists on a huge scale, the smallest attention to every minor detail is apparent in every nook and cranny, both inside and out.

And visitors can visit the St Charles Crypt – a quaintly atmospheric, eerie chamber nestling on the lower levels of the cathedral and also visible from above.

The lift to the rooftops is very quick. And once atop this massive edifice, there are steps and uneven surfaces to negotiate so it is not ideal for the less nimble! The roof slopes gently down to parapets supported by elegant ribbed stone.

Dozens and dozens of ornate spires surround the rooftop.  Most bear the weather and wear of centuries gone by. And a programme of refurbishment is under way repairing many of the eroded blocks of stone.

Views across Milan are spectacular, even on a grey day. This is an adventure not to be missed. And for Instagrammers there are some amazing photography viewing angles.

Cuisine in Milan

And the cuisine…. well this is Italy of course! Fabulous restaurants abound in Milan. We enjoyed a superb meal at the Osteria Mamma Rosa. Service with a smile and delicious cuisine. Not to mention a huge selection of wine. Wine, of course, abounds in Italy and is inexpensive. And even in Milan’s superior restaurants bottles of good wine are priced below €20.

The Lombardy region is well known for its rice and polenta dishes as they are locally cultivated in this part of Italy. Risotto alla milanese is a favourite. And veal shanks in the form of ossobuco alla milanese are a delicious treat for carnivores. And of course, as in all Italy, delicious fresh pizza and pasta abounds. Furthermore, fish is plentiful. You won’t go hungry here!

Salmon tartare

And panettone originated in this region. We enjoyed coffee and gelato in the eclectic Pasticceria San Gregorio’s  where they had even decorated their ceilings with row after row of them!

Pannetonne ceiling decoration

Milan hotels

In November, accommodation is plentiful and inexpensive. We stayed at the centrally located Ibis Styles Milano – a charming hotel just off the Corso Buenos Aires. The hotel is well situated and an excellent place to recharge your batteries after a long day of sightseeing. They provide an excellent continental breakfast and unlimited coffee is available throughout the day. The rooms are compact but ideal for a family just looking for a bolthole in the centre of the city. The rooms are located around a central atrium which is light, bright and airy. WiFi is included.

The central station

Railway stations provide a profound sense of contrast in history and time. And Milan station is no exception. With its huge, imposing facade and solid architecture the station dominates the Piazza Duca d’Aosta. Once inside, there is an abundance of modern cafes and shops bustling with stylish passengers in a hurry.

Then you can walk onto the 24 platforms and see the big beasts of high speed trains arriving and departing for destinations throughout Italy and beyond.

And the local Metro stations are not without their charm. Graffiti appears in various places and provides a charming contrast to the stark, simple lines of the stations.


Quaint streets

The charm of the streets of Milan just keeps on giving. You can enjoy quiet little roads and pathways with fascinating shops, restaurants and bars to explore.


The Christmas streets are tastefully festooned with lights. It seems that the only festive lights allowed to adorn the shop exteriors and the streets are just white so it gives the place a stylish glow. Tacky it ain’t! The November drizzle enhances this effect by creating dazzling reflections off the damp pavements and cobbles.

East market – where old meets new meets creative

And no trip to Milan is complete without a visit to the flea market in Via Mecenate. You can simply take the tram from downtown Milan. On arrival you will find a variety of warehouses devoted to a fascinating array of wares from today and yesterday.

East Market Milano

Vintage clothes and jewellery abound – particularly from the 70’s and 80’s. Odd objets d’art – throwbacks to the age of psychedelia are for sale on the stalls. And the stallholders are dressed in the most fascinating ways; style accents hark back to yesteryear. Vinyl is well represented so you can buy  yourself an old record to bring home! I had no idea that everything Beatles is still so popular! Music booms out through the speakers and the place has a very cool vibe.  For instance, modern day artists and designers display eclectic wares for sale on their colourful stalls.

Refreshments are brilliant too! Enjoy an abundance of tasty street food and international delicacies. So here in the market  you can just sit on simple pallet stacks topped with chipboard and have a beer and a bite to eat.

In conclusion, the city of Milan has something for everyone.  In short, when visiting you will have fun – even when it’s raining! We recommend it very highly!

Accommodation in Milan

If you are planning a short stay in Milan there are lots of options. Click here for inspiration >>>

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