When I first moved to Milan I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the city. I had always thought of Milan as a fashion capital where the majority of people you see walking down the streets are gorgeous Italian models, wearing mostly black attire and heading to some type of posh event. Either that, or a very “corporate” city, as it’s also basically the business hub of Italy.
It turns out that Milan actually has a lot of character and personality and there are so many great things to discover about the city. Sure there’s all the glamor and fashion – but the fashion isn’t just chic – there’s also the element of trendy, funky, alternative style street wear. And aside from the whole fashion aspect – there are beautiful parks, cute cobblestone alleyways that you can wander and get lost in, the Duomo and the Castle, not to mention amazing cafes and restaurants, old-school trams that remind me of San Francisco, a plethora of luxury shops as well as a wide variety of second hand and vintage, people from all over the world, and the Navigli area (my neighborhood) which is always bustling with people at any time of the day. It’s the part of Milan that is famous for the “aperitivo” (somewhat equivalent to a “happy hour”) where people meet up after work or around dinner time for a drink and something to eat. In the summer it’s swarmed with people sitting outside each cafe, restaurant, gelateria or creperie relaxing in the sun while enjoying the company of their friends and a delicious bite of food. Taxi-tourist boats float down the canal, taking people on tours of the area. The sun reflects off the warm yellow and rustic colored buildings… it’s really a beautiful sight.
And then there are fantastic markets. Vintage markets, flea markets – you can pretty much find anything you’re looking for. There are three different markets right here in the Navigli. One is almost year round that sits behind the Porta Genova metro area where you can find antiques and vintage wear, DVDs, bicycle parts, house ware, clothes, jewelry, shoes, art supplies – literally every type of thing. During the summer they close down the main street at Porta Genova (Via Vigevano) every last Sunday of the month to make way for a cool market, and every weekend during the summer the third flea market is in action. In December there’s a great outdoor Christmas market right at the Duomo that sells all kinds of treats, Sicilian sweets and specialities, soaps, ornaments, cheeses, salami, wine, roasted nuts, candles, warm winter clothes and leather goods…
It’s definitely a city that’s worth checking out on your visit to Italy. You can’t come here with a beach mind-set, or expect to see the culture or find the typical Italian food you find in southern Italy, but it certainly has its beautiful aspects.