Who doesn’t love an iconic city? Europe may have some of the most well-known cities in the world but when it comes to fashion, there’s only a handful that make the grade. One of them is no other than Milan, the fashion capital of Italy and we were on our way to visiting Milan by campervan!
Our tour of Northern Italy had seen us leave incredible Lake Maggiore, before the two hour drive to Milan.
Now, when it comes to cities and motorhome parking, we’re always a bit cautious. The last thing anyone wants to find is that they’ve been broken into after leaving the van all day.
So, with this in mind and with no real recommendations to go off in the centre of Milan, we decided to stop just outside the city. Luckily, we found Camping Sport Magenta. A huge motorhome dealer and accessory store which had a really good camper Sosta attached to it.
Parking up alongside the vast store, we had a quick lunch before heading inside to explore. Wow! What a place this was. If you ever needed anything for the campervan, you’d find it here.
There was everything on sale from windows to roof vents, hobs to latches, toilets to tents. We were in our element, there were things here that you’d never find back in the UK!
Ok, we weren’t here to buy accessories, we wanted to see the fashion capital of Italy. So, later that day, we headed off on foot to check out the route to the railway station.
After all, there’s nothing like a bit of preparation to make a city tour more enjoyable. We soon found the train station about a 10 minutes walk away from the Sosta parking. All easy enough, we were now prepared for the morning train the following day.
The 10.20am train to Milan Central Station left the unremarkable platform promptly enough. Luckily we made the train, after first buying our tickets at the Tabac store next to the station.
At just 4 Euro each way plus the metro tickets, the total for both of us came to 36 Euro. The lady in the tabac store helped us choose the right tickets, before dashing for the train which we could see was approaching the platform.
The day was hot, the sun strong and the crowds out in force as we disembarked at Milan Central Station.
This beautiful, ornate building was quite magnificent, although the crowds made it all the more difficult to linger and admire the architecture for any length of time.
Poor signage made it more complicated for us to find our way towards the next phase of the journey into Milan – the metro.
Eventually, after buying a tourist map at a news stall, a sign caught our eye. Before we knew it we were aboard the metro for the 3 stops that would take us to the centre of this bustling city. Soon we would arrive at the most magnificent sight of all, The Duomo or cathedral of Milan.
Up the stairs we strode, amongst hundreds of people alighting form the metro. We weren’t really sure what to expect, where had we reached and was it the right stop?
Then daylight pierced our eyes so out came the sunglasses. The next stone step had us positioned right in front of the most incredible sight of all – the Duomo of Milan.
If anyone recently watched the wonderful Andrea Bocelli perform his lockdown solo performance outside Milan’s magnificent cathedral. Then you’ll know how magical this place really is.
Today, we were amongst the masses. Little did we know, soon the world would be in turmoil and the tourist filled streets of this city would be empty.
A large queue formed around the cathedral or Duomo building, encasing the spectacular ornate facade in a human chain. A circle of life around the glorious building, somehow seemed fitting enough for such an elaborate design.
We chose not to join the queue to the Duomo interior, but instead took our chances on the other elaborate building in this square – The Emmanuelle Shopping Arcade.
Here, the glass leaded curved roof is the centerpiece, culminating in an incredible central glazed dome. Walking through the most ornate shopping precinct imaginable, where designer stores displayed their latest seasonal creations was just a beautiful experience.
Before our eyes, a bridal party took centre stage in the middle of the decadence, whilst photographers clicking at every opportunity. Taking a step back, we admired from a distance. Were the happy couple part of a photo shoot or was this really a newly wed bride and groom?
We will never know, but it looked good and we enjoyed their smiles of happiness, whether for the camera or for real it didn’t really matter.
There’s no mistaking, Milan is one big city. Usually, we take off on foot and forget about any form of public transport. But this time, we had to combine feet with the metro. There was simply too much ground to cover for one day trip.
Our route soon lead us though the beautiful city, passing ancient architecture, brimming with a chic, classy style like no other.
This is one city that is full of life, bursting with youth, beauty and the good things in life. Before long we came upon the Piazza Castello. This fascinatingly ornate ultra pristine area leading to the 47 hectare park of Sempione.
Here, we relaxed for our picnic lunch under a shady tree, surrounded by city life emerging into the calm ambiance of the parkland.
After a bite to eat as well as a bite on the leg by a flying insect, I really wanted to dive to the nearest pharmacy for some ointment. Scratching my way out of the park, soon we came to the really beautiful Porta Sempione, gateway to Milan.
This 25m high, Roman looking structure was actually built in the 19th century, although it’s roots stem from the original Roman walls of the city.
Walking through the gate, our next stop via the nearest pharmacy was to the Leonardo di Vinci masterpiece, Cenacola Vinciano or The Last Supper.
This is one of the most fabulous murals in the world and I would have loved to see it, except we couldn’t! We couldn’t believe it when we arrived at the convent of Santa Maria Delle Grazie to find the admittance booked up for the next month!
We came out of there with our tail between our legs, feeling rather stupid for expecting to just walk in unannounced!
Why we hadn’t thought to check out the booking process I’ll never know, but either way we would never have thought to look so far in advance.
Not to be too deflated, instead we used our extra time wisely, heading off on the metro to save the legs. Our destination was the canal-side market stalls of antiquities in the Navigli district.
What a little find this turned out to be. This thriving hub of eccentric types lined the waterside, bringing culture together in a mix of cafe’s, clothes, antiques and just plain old people watching.
Models strode their stuff, whilst photographers captured their beautiful images beside the Milan architecture.
It was fun to sit in the shade and watch the world go by for a while.
Last but not least, with time ticking by we needed to dash over to the real Milan. This is the designer hub of fashion, the renowned Monte Napoleone.
Here, the ultimate fashion houses, are quite literally tall elegant houses, where the designers house their fashion styles in the shop window fronts below.
Quite frankly, it’s outrageously extravagant in a beautiful sort of way. On top of that, it’s the most expensive high street in Europe and we could easily see why.
All the major designers graced the pavements, enticing window displays were elaborate enough to take centre stage imitating an art gallery rather than a clothes shop.
But, then again this is no ordinary high street, there is only one Milan and there was no where more worthy of it’s title of fashion capital of Europe than here.
It was captivating, exciting, far from a reality that we knew, yet ever so slightly bizarre at the same time.
As the day came to an end, our feet began to ache and the body longed for rest. This city is exhausting and we’d had enough for one day.
We know people who’ve been to Milan and thought it rather dull. I’m not sure why, as we loved it. One thing’s for sure, it’s bigger than you think and it’s very widespread, although we didn’t feel that we needed any longer there.
With that in mind, we took the nearest metro back to Central station and the 6pm train back to Magenta and our Campervan.
In our minds Milan had been fabulous. Blowing our minds away and taking us into a different world, if only for the day but it was worth it!