Milan

Type : City Break
Best Date : Summer April-July
Expense :  Medium
Things to do : Shopping, Sightseeing,
Points of Interest: Duonmo, San Siro, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Sforza Castle, Last Supper, ect

Brief

Milan is the capital of the Lombardy region  in the north of Italy. The city highlights both old and modern Italy with the city hosting many exclusive events such as the Fashion Week but also homing many historic artifacts, most notable being  the ‘Last Supper’ painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. Milan is also the country’s main financial, industrial and business centre and gets its luxury profile by being the fashion capital of the world.

The Place

Milan for me was small but extravagant, the city in a tourist’s perspective would be concentrated around the Duonmo area, with only Sforza castle and the San Siro probably being the other major places to visit in Milan.

20170813_100838Duonmo which is the most visited area of Milan is home to the ‘Milan Cathedral’ which in my opinion is the cover attraction of the city. Milan Cathedral which like many around the world is a church dedicated to Mary of the nativity and is said to be one of the largest church in Italy along with ‘St Peter’s Basilica’ in the Vatican. The building itself was amazing, every block and corner had statues which you would have thought would only be found in museums. Entering the church is quite annoying as there is a ticket charge (for a place of worship), however it is only 3 euros which also permits entry to their museum which is just left of the cathedral. The collection in the museum is actually worthwhile as it had many different religious art the cathedral has or had in the past.

Just left of the Cathedral is a special arcade of sh20170811_164225ops, the ‘Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II’ which has an amazing architecture, the shops and restaurants here are luxury with upper class restaurants and high end Italian fashion chains such as Armani, Prada, Gucci and Versace being the brands with stores in this small outside mall. The building has of 4 quarters with a roof installation that consists of a huge glass iron dome in the centre, all buildings were also covered with a luxurious decorative design which illustrated the extravagance of its resident shops and restaurants. Further more the floor are also a thing of beauty as rather just a plain old concrete or tilling, a beautiful art and mosaic display is at you just at your feet throughout the building. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II  also has the ‘Town house Galleria’ which is a 5 star hotel and the most central of Milan.

Sforza castle is another amazing place in the city, it is just a 15 minute walk from Milan cathedral. The castle which is also easily visited through many of the surrounding metro stations, is situated at the front of ‘Sempione Park’ which also has another attraction in the ‘Arco della Pace’. Renovated and enlarged through three different centuries of a late gothic and early renaissance fortification, the castle is now a museum which host many of the cities art collection. When I was there a Michael Angelo exhibition was on which seemed very popular, however the castle itself is a sight to see and very nice to roam around.

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‘San Siro’ is another place to visit if you like football, it is the largest stadium in Italy and is the home ground of both of Milan’s  major teams Inter and AC Milan. The stadium itself is away from the centre of the city however it is possible to reach by metro with various stops surrounding the stadium. San Siro is the largest stadium in Italy and one of the largest in Europe with just over 80,000 seating capacity. The architecture is not as impressive like other stadiums around Europe as it is also one of the oldest, being built in 1925. Nonetheless it is still massively visited by football enthusiast whether on match days or not.

A huge turnout in Milan usually happens when the world famous ‘Milan Fashion Week’ occurs. This event happens twice a year for the autumn/ winter and spring/ summer collections, and is one of the big four fashion week of London, Paris and New York. Within this week there are many celebrities, photographers and press around Milan.

Overall as a major city, Milan proves to be smaller than other European destinations. Although only a number of attractions and landmarks, they are not without their merits. Milan also has plenty of treasures that people come to see,such as the ‘Last Supper’ in ‘Santa Maria delle Grazie’. A popular time to visit Milan would be on one of their fashion weeks, which would make Milan much more extravagant. Visiting Milan should not be limited to staying within the city, as a quick day tour to Lake Como is also very popular with tourists.

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Bellagio / Como

Type : Culture, Luxury
Best Dates :
Summer April – August
Expense :
Expensive
Things to do :
Dine, Photography, Shopping, Cruises
Points of Interest:
Lake Como

Brief

Bellagio is a small village in ‘Como’ province within the Lombardy region in northern Italy. The village is situated at the pinpoint location of the upside down ‘Y’ shape of lake Como with one of the best panoramic views of the lake. The Como region has been a haven for celebrities and the show business lifestyle with residence such as George Clooney, Catherine Zeta Jones, Richard Branson and more alike. The ‘Como’ region has also been featured in many blockbuster movies, most notable being Star wars, James Bond, Ocean Eleven and many more.

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The Experience

If you are looking for a luxurious place to unwind with terrific panoramic views for plenty picture taking and a taste full of authentic Italian flavours, then Bellagio would be an Italian village to visit. However all villages around ‘Como’ are alike, keeping in mind that Bellagio is one of the most visited village around the area, visiting here would more or less fulfil the experience of the other villages.

Firstly to visit the ‘Como’ region it is possible to drive however with minimal parking and congested roads it is advised to reach the region by train arriving at ‘Como station’, from there it is usually the norm to take the ferry to which ever village you desire. The ferries take around 2 hours to do the full circuit where people get on and off at different ports. In my experience on using the ferries was that it was very full and looked overloaded, but it was peak holiday season so this could be understood. Nonetheless using the ferry is something I advise to do, as the scenery you see is one of a kind.

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Bellagio is probably one of the main villages to visit around ‘Lake Como’, it is at the centre of the lake with many restaurants, hotels and shops. Bellagio itself is small but has plenty of character, everything was authentic Italian. There were many restaurants to choose from, cheaper restaurants were further up the village and the more expensive ones were lakeside. Food was mainly Italian seafood with many restaurants serving local catches. Shops also had Italian products selling artwork and clothes made locally.

All buildings in the village looks well preserved but one main building that stands out is the ‘Chiesa San Giacomo’ which is the local church. However every structure made the village what it is with the stone stairway and alley ways also adding characteristics. A walk around the village is tiring but also very pleasing, the only way to describe the atmosphere in Lake Como is like being in a movie such as ‘James Bond’ where interestingly enough ‘Casino Royal’ hosted the movie in one of their scenes.

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Overall Bellagio or any villages around ‘Lake Como’ has class and if you are looking for a holiday to unwind, have authentic Italian food surrounded by exceptional scenery then Lake Como is a place you’ll need to visit. However do save a bit as it can get very expensive around the area, hotels can range to an average of £300 per night, and meals could cost 30 euros for a main meal. If staying here will prove to be too expensive, I advise to just stay in Milan and plan a day trip as in my opinion day is enough to enjoy this place.

click for my Bellagio Gallery