So what do you do if you only have 1 day in Milan, the world’s foremost fashion capitol? This was one of the ‘First World’ problems I had to face when I was figuring out how to spend my weekends in Switzerland while I was there for training. Milan is only a 4 hour train ride from Zurich, and taking the 8am train means that I arrive in Milan just in time for an Italian lunch.
The train from Zurich travels southwards towards Italy and crosses several impressive bridges and one of the longest railway tunnels in the world. The on board public announcements change from German to Italian as the train approaches the border between Switzerland and Italy.
I soon found myself stepping out of Milano central station, and wondering where to go. The train station is in a rather shabby looking part of the city, and it was really intimidating for a first time visitor like me. Deciding to walk instead, I headed in the direction of the city centre. After around 30 minutes of walking, I saw the spires of a huge cathedral rising into the sky.
This was easily the largest church building I’ve ever seen. It’s definitely bigger than the Notre Dame in Paris. The Gothic designed Duomo was built in 1386. For a fee (€5 to climb 250 steps, or €12 to take the lift) you can go up to the roof of the church to have a great view of Milan while standing among the Gothic spires.
Back down at ground level, the interior of the church is quite similar to other churches. But the sheer size of the building is incredible and the main hall is one of the largest I’ve seen. The guard at the entrance of The Duomo can be really strict and I’ve seen women tourists being stopped from entering because they wore too skimpy clothing. So no mini skirts or bare shoulders or you won’t be allowed in.
Outside the Duomo is the square that is also named after it. Tourists will gather here to take photos of The Duomo. There are also a lot of immigrant touts who will try to hustle you to buy pigeon food, so be wary and look after your belongings.
Just beside Duomo Square is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, one of the grandest shopping arcades in Milan. Here you will find many luxury brand shops like Gucci and Prada.
So I guess that just hanging around Duomo Square will take up most of any day trip here. Since I wasn’t the shopping kind, I had time to walk to the Castello Sforzesco. This is a former castle of the last ruling family of Milan but is now a museum.
Thus, I ended my day trip to Milan. Definitely there is much more to see and do here, but that has to be reserved for another trip. For now I had to catch the evening train back to Zurich. To save time, instead of walking, you can take the subway or Metro as it’s called in Milan. The Metro stations are denoted by the big white M on red background signs.