We spent two nights in Milan and had planned to take a day trip to Lake Como, but because of my foot decided we were going to take it easy. However, it was just too nice out so we ended up slowly walking around the city and seeing the gorgeous sights!
Our cute little airbnb was located in Chinatown and was about a 30 minute walk to the Piazza del Duomo, which is the center of Milan. The area is named after the Duomo di Milano which is a stunning cathedral in the center of the plaza. My dad has always had a photograph of his Nana (my great grandmother) in Milan feeding the pigeons in front of the Duomo so we knew we had to visit it to recreate the photo! The Duomo di Milano is truly breath taking and the architecture is unlike anything we’d ever seen before. There were tons of pigeons in the plaza and you could even purchase food to feed them. The pigeons sure weren’t shy and before I knew it I had five pigeons on my arm! Definitely a crazy experience but we got to recreate the photo we wanted, and Blake got to take many pigeon portraits! Directly next to the Cathedral is the Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is the most grand indoor/outdoor shopping mall you’ve ever seen! The glass ceilings are a must see, and if you love high end shopping this is the place to be. When we walked out of the Galleria we were surprised to see a Leica camera store. We have a Leica M6 35mm film camera (the only camera that we brought with us to Europe) and Leica is Blake’s favorite camera company, so he was stoked! We spent a while admiring all of the equipment and art throughout the store and then we bought a specialty shutter release for the camera. So now every time we use that camera we have a little reminder of our trip!
At this point we were getting pretty hungry, so we figure what better time to get some Gelato! We scoped out the best looking place and got our first gelato of Italy. It was truly so delicious!! At that point, we made a pact to eat gelato everyday we were in Italy, because why not?! We knew we needed some real food too, so we wandered the streets until we stumbled upon the Milan Starbucks Reserve. While we love boutique coffee shops, we will always love Starbucks, so this was a must see for us! There are only six reserve locations in the world so of course we had to head in to check it out. When I tell you Starbucks Reserve is the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of coffee, I am not exaggerating! This place is MASSIVE! There is a giant roaster in the middle and clear tubes all across the ceiling that are pumping the freshly roasted beans to be packaged as well as served in the store. On one side is the bakery that has delicious savory pastries, pizzas, and breads, and on the other there is a bakery counter with all of the sweet pastries! In the back there is a bar where you can get every coffee cocktail you could ever think of! Since we were starving but also in desperate need of coffee, we first grabbed a couple pastries and specialty coffees only offered at the Reserve locations. Blake got the Starbucks Reserve Barrel Aged Vanilla Latte and I got the Undertow. Both were delicious and we wished we could try them all! Still hungry we headed over to the savory counter and ordered a cold brew and an olive loaf. The olive loaf was truly life changing! Neither of us really cared for olives but both of us loved this and it actually converted me to a full on olive lover, who would have thought! While we wished we could go on a tour of the whole roastery we knew there was so much more to see in Milan and headed on our way.
We began our walk back to our airbnb and decided to detour to visit Sforzesco Castle. The Castle is free to visit, and much larger than expected! Everywhere we turned there was more and more stunning architecture! We would definitely recommend checking out this huge piece of Milan history. Right outside of the castle begins Sempione Park which felt like a dream to walk through. The landscaping is pristine and the weather was just perfect! We kept pinching ourselves to make sure it was all real! At the end of the park is the Arco della Pace (arch of peace) which was ordered to be built by Napoleon himself and is set to mark the entrance to Milan. The statues on top make this arch even more impressive! As we wandered the rest of the way to our airbnb we found a pet store where we happend to see the second shiba of our trip, and of course bought Lupin a toy to bring home! We ended the day with one of the best meals in Chinatown at a local dim sum restaurant, Chateau Dufan. You may be thinking dim sum in Italy?! But when in Chinatown!
We woke up the next morning refreshed and ready to travel on. We had a few hours before our train, so we grabbed breakfast at a neighborhood cafe and had our first taste of Italian focaccia, something we had been looking forward to since planning our trip (thanks to Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix)! You haven’t tasted real focaccia until you’ve had it in Italy, it is unreal!! From here, we made our way to the train station with one last stop, to the Crazy Cat Cafe! This cat cafe is so cute and full of the fluffiest kitties and they even have delicious coffee! We grabbed two “Cat-ppuccinos” (in cat shaped mugs) and enjoyed some “cat therapy” as the cafe calls it. We definitely recommend checking out the Crazy Cat Cafe if you have a chance next time you’re in Milan! From there we hopped on our train to the Cinque Terre our main destination for this trip!