After 13 hours of bunking in a train from Paris, and serendipitously meeting a truly lovely Italian girl, Marica, we have arrived in one of the fashion capitals of the world, Milano.

 

Buon giorno!

 

Funny realization was how we used to say “ciao” to just kid around friends. Suddenly, it’s a human encounter staple! It pays to geek around sometimes. It felt oh so naturale!
Benvenuti in Italia! Stazione Centrale, Milano
Because we came in at 5 in the morning, we opted to stay awhile and not brave the unknown city. While waiting for daylight and people to flock the streets, we warmed ourselves with hot choco latte inside the first cafe that opened in the station.

 

One of the cafe guys is a Filipino. We had a good chat with him even offering his free time after work to tour us around. To kick-start the day in a good note, we also got additional croissants! That’s a global Pinoy hospitality!
This was our base station for 4 days

The main train station, which we deliberately chose is the Centrale FS (FS stands for Ferrovie dello Stato, the official name of the Italian rail system). First timers that we are, it’s best to stay in the center– the station that received and will send us off.

It was here where I first heard “que bellissima” being uttered in a singing manner by an authentic Italian guy we encountered. How lovely!

The Batcave

Hotel Monopole via Fabio Filzi

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Hotel Monopole via Fabio Filzi

Hotel Monopole is a 5-minute walk away from the main train station. It wasn’t at all difficult to locate, add to that the fact that people were generally accommodating, and handsome (or beautiful) at that.

 

[An interesting thing to note, the surgery system of faucets must have rooted from Italy, Milan particularly. Their faucets and toilets are foot operated. Hands are sacred, eh? Or just because they love to eat?]

 

The receptionist was very helpful. He just needed to encircle on the map all the places we have to go and we had an instant itinerary already.

 

It was endearing as well that when we asked the tourism information guy if he’d recommend that we avail the Milan hop on hop off tour bus, he candidly said, honestly, no need! Wasn’t he supposed to sell that product to us?
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Via Fabio Filzi

The Goal

We’ve had enough of museums in Paris (we’re that easy to oversaturate, not history people at that) so we opted for a “cultural break” and vowed to focus on what Milan is known for–fashion.

 

The four-day itinerary in this economic capital of Italy is centered on what they coined a design and lifestyle tour. Everyday was just experiencing branded, outlet, and vintage stores at every corner that we can successfully navigate ourselves to. ALL JUST BY WALKING from the metro!

THE PLACES (aka the shopping spots)

Corso Buenos Aires

There wasn’t much to photograph in this street since it’s a bilateral stretch full of fashion stores and we all know how that looks. It is an avenue for the average shopper as Montenapoleone is for the rich.

 

We found this little cafe at lunch time and decided to try an authentic Italian cuisine. The Italiani’s chain is a little high-end but this street cafe feels and tastes just like that.

 

While we post electric fans in open air restaurants in the Philippines, they position electric fan-tall heaters here!

 

Food in Europe is generally a little bit blander than our liking, our Filipino taste buds being used to too flavorful dishes back home. But it’s all good. I liked it. You can never go wrong with Italian food, right?
Trying out a little quaint Italian cafe for lunch along Corso Buenos Aires

Trying out a little quaint Italian cafe for lunch along Corso Buenos Aires

Duomo di Milan (Milan Cathedral)

Duomo di Milan (Milan Cathedral), Italy

Duomo di Milan (Milan Cathedral), Italy

It is another Gothic cathedral (like the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral), which took 6 long centuries to build. It is the biggest cathedral in Italy and the 4th in the world.
So yes, it’s bleeping huge.

 

It is always jam-packed. I started to wonder where all these people are coming from and if the global recession is true.
The famous pigeons from the Star Cinema movie Milan

The famous pigeons from the Star Cinema movie Milan

There’s actually a tourist trap in this area. As the suspects see you approaching the Duomo while taking pictures of it (no. 1 tourist sign), they’d pour pellets on your hand to invite the pigeons. I was having a good time taking the pictures at first because there was just too many of them birds! They have no concept of threat or survival of the fittest.

 

Then the guy offered to take our photo together. I was just too glad so I gave in. Then the moment I handed over my camera, I felt anxious instantly.

Well, you know what worst can happen. Thousands of my Paris memories will be gone with my camera. So I wasn’t taking my eyes off the guy and I was so ready to run after him. After about 2-3 clicks, I forcefully demanded my gadget back.

Then, the trap happened. They demanded a certain amount, demanded being the operative word. I think it was 5 Euros each (total rip-off, I know!). Like they have receipts to give to price us like that. I wasn’t at all new to this so I gave them what’s due them with some scripting and acting prowess. Yes, I took that risk. What’s the worst that can happen? Well, nothing much, just point a gun at me. They didn’t. Poor them. Moral of the story. Never again.

Art in Duomo Cathedral

Art in Duomo Cathedral

Stained glass and colored light reflections

Stained glass and colored light reflections

Piazza Duomo which radiates to several streets circling it

Piazza Duomo which radiates to several streets circling it

One of the streets from Piazza Duomo. Street musicians everywhere!

One of the streets from Piazza Duomo. Street musicians everywhere!

Portraits in the street

Portraits in the street

One of the streets exiting from the Piazza Duomo "circle"

One of the streets exiting from the Piazza Duomo “circle”

Il Salvagante

Il Salvagante sells marked down (not really!) BRANDED items of past seasons
We were “shopping” with this adorable non-human being. I said smile and s/he did that face.

 Paolo Sarpi

Via Paolo Sarpi- Milan's Chinatown

Via Paolo Sarpi- Milan’s Chinatown

Paolo Sarpi is also known as the poor man’s Montenapoleone. Montenapoleone is that strip of expensive branded fashion items frequented by the elites. Latest trends go there first.

 

Having said that, Paolo Sarpi is a strip full of local tailors who reproduce what’s on trend in Montenapoleone. This is the go-to place for local budget fashionistas scouting for great finds; almost the same thing for way lesser price tag. Who wouldn’t?
Streets of Milan

Streets of Milan

The guy on the top right posed for me after he caught me snapping on his building. Everywhere there was just a welcoming, jolly cheer.

A flower shop in a street can really create a beautiful, rejuvenating atmosphere.

And I haven’t had enough of balconies! Balconies and flower shops, wow, perfect movie scenes.

Cavalli E Nastri

Cavalli E Nastri - a vintage clothing store

Cavalli E Nastri – a vintage clothing store

Cavalli I think is that shop I’ve been envisioning my whole life (minus the pink wall). It’s homey, beautifully interior-designed, quaint–just the kind of place I’d want to stay in and time will just pass by. Don’t be fooled by the term “vintage” though. It doesn’t equate at all to cheap old/classic finds. Cheap shouldn’t be in the equation, but it’s oh so lovely!

Montenapoleone

The 2-level Armani heaven in via Manzoni, stazione Montenapoleone
We entered and almost died of the sky-rocketing price tags! They should donate one floor to the homeless! It’s that spacious inside! Like clients caught elbow-to-elbow is a mortal crime!

 

There’s a caffe, too if that helps.
Streets of Montenapoleone

 

From top left clockwise: 1) Wrapped gift of a building. When they say design, they mean inside out; 2) Versace building; 3) Gold-plated Montenapoleone sign as if to say “it’s gonna be rich hereon”; 4) street musicians all around and the red male pants; 5) Street designs; 6) there is a bring-the-pet culture rampant in this side of the world

 

As I’ve mentioned above, Montenapoleone is the elite’s shopping strip. If you aren’t big, you aren’t here. It felt like watching a fashion show. The vibe was so high-end. You can feel as people pass you by that they may be able to buy you in a snap. And hello they clothe their pups! In designers I bet! : ]

Seravalle Outlet Store

Seravalle Outlet Store is another tourist shoppers’ spot.

It’s about an hour or so bus trip from Cadorna. Field trip departs only once a day so reservation a day prior is needed.

We weren’t able to go due to time constraints. But I’ve learned that there are more than a hundred outlet stores in this fantasy land. It was likened to Disney land for shopaholics. One would literally drown in merchandise. It was that severe that we were advised to go in our most comfortable shoes. The catch though is that it wasn’t priced as how we would expect a real outlet store. Nothing comes cheap here, anyway.

Just another building/ chapel we happened to pass by! Awesome!
The chapel where we had our first courtesy call. Passed by walking to Corso Buenos Aires

See, it wasn’t a tourist spot but it’s that intricate!

Stazione Repubblica (Brasil-themed?)
Another random church/architectural beauty while trying to find the way to the next outlet
Train scenes from top left clockwise: Waiting to board; Reading despite a standing position; Carolers; Cologne station
The Christmas-y street as we approach the Duomo Metro station. Lined by shops left & right!
Posh green bike and the miniature car that can park in whichever orientation. Small like that!
Very Christmas-y tram nearby our hotel and the stazione Centrale
The palace in Cadorna
We set a rendezvous with friends before we left and were summoned to Franzelli Mediteranean Seafood Restaurant in Cadorna. I didn’t know where it was of course, but we only needed the direction and it felt like we know exactly where we’re going.
That’s how tourist-friendly the places are.
Acqua Naturale
They don’t kid here when they ask for which kind of water you want because there are “naturale” and sparkling water options. I was not a fan of the sparkling one for the same reason that I don’t drink soda–the “spirit” hurts my throat.

 

Yes, even an ordinary bottle water is that beautiful.
I. JUST. CAN’T. There’s something about this that makes me stop & stare. #BookLove
The Italian Job demo-ed it well how tiny Italian streets are, hence the Mini Cooper aptness!
Just about ready to conquer Venice. Ciao Milano!

Thoughts about Milan, in Milan

  • I have indulged in that instance when people try to communicate in 2 different languages and gets away with sign language. That’s universal language at work!
  • There were beggars (the world is still fair). I have distinguished plain beggars from thieves, though, by how scary they look. The latter is scarier. They brood in train stations just like the rest of the world.
  • Europe, in general, is great to visit but not to permanently live in. Life is still where family and friends are.
Grazie mille (thank you very much), Milan! : ]

 

From Paris to Milan.

Next stop: Venice!