Milling around in Milan

Posted by Jay in Travel on March 26th, 2014

Italy has been on my list of places to see for a while now, and in March I planned a trip to visit Milan and then move onto Florence. So as per usual, I am getting pretty excited about going and generally annoying everyone around me until I finally leave.

Unfortunately, as many people who know me or have ever tried to meet up with me will attest to, I have horrible time management skills. And I am late 9 times out of 10. So what happened next was that I missed my flight from London to Milan!

Which was a major bummer as I had invited a friend of mine to go along with me, but quickly got over this by booking tickets with the help of another friend and technology! The new flight was leaving a few hours later to Milan, but sadly to a Malpensa airport which was much further away from the centre than the original airport, Linate.

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Had to make the most of our waiting time, of course

However, I was not going to let this get me down as I was still looking forward to my first stop in Italy even if it was later than originally planned. On my way to the boarding gate, I meet a very nice young Italian man named Alessandro who offered to help me with my hand luggage and insisted that it was no bother at all, then we got talking on the flat escalators about his trip to London and all things wonderful.

One of my favourite parts of flying is sitting by the window and enjoying the view as I reach my destination, this time I was not by the window but I was able to take this picture of the mountains below as we were making our way to Milan.

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This is most definitely on my list of places to go! I have no idea where it is, though…

After having landed and dealing with this exceptionally rude man who pushed in front of us as we were about to get bus tickets to the centre of Milan, we decided to treat ourselves to a well deserved posing picture

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After getting on the bus that involved very high steps within a narrow space, it was clear that if someone with a wheelchair or someone that simply couldn’t do the stairs would have to pay even more money to get a taxi to the centre, if they didn’t have someone to drive them. I have been on such buses before in the UK and I have so far not found any that are easily accessible for those not fully abled.

Finally arriving at Milan and heading towards our main reason for this first stop in Italy; Hotel Principe di Savoia. The grandeur of the 5* luxury hotel was not lost on us as we arrived in the evening with the hotel sign lit, our bags immediately taken care of by a luggage porter and a swift check in at reception before we’re shown into our room that was overflowing with amenities.

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I could definitely get used to this

Having dinner in the divine Acanto restaurant, I chose the seafood platter which was beyond amazing and the service was attentive without being intrusive. Heading back up to the room in a lift that fulfilled my narcissistic tendencies, before we retired for the night.

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Acanto; room with a view

Breakfast was another treat as it’s based within the the restaurant and had a buffet breakfast with sweet and savoury foods for every palette, while I was tempted, I did not have cheesecake for breakfast. Maybe next time.

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A lot better than breakfast at my computer desk

After we finished indulging in the morning, we took the hotel’s complimentary car service to Piazza della Scala to begin taking in the sights that Milan had to offer.

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First stop; Piazza della Scala

Milan and the Milanese people are known for having impeccable fashion sense, coupled with an air of effortless cool that most have to work hard to achieve. It also doesn’t hurt that Milan Fashion Week brings with it an expectation to look good all the time.

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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – link between Piazza della Scala and Piazza del Duomo

The Galleria is crammed with designer labels that will please your eyes but maybe not your bank account. All the usual characters are present, Gucci; Prada; Louis Vuitton being housed within this giant arcade that could very well front for a museum in its own right.

While Milan is not the prettiest of cities in Italy, as it’s quite industrial and doesn’t have much to offer in terms of its natural beauty, it does have a magnificent Duomo that is the fifth largest cathedral in the world.

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Was stood in awe of the cathedral for ages before I went inside

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Interior of the Duomo

In order to take pictures within the Duomo, you have to pay 2€ to obtain a photography bracelet that’s attached to your camera. You could still try to take pictures on the sly, but nothing worse than being reprimanded inside a church with everyone watching.

During my time moving from place to place in the city, what I most enjoyed was how flat the ground was in Milan. Using crutches has  meant always being on the look out for uneven pavements, steps that are just a little too high, or the worst, cobbled streets which are just a nightmare when it rains. Almost guaranteed to slip or very nearly slip, which always sends up my heart to my throat.

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Spires to inspire

You can go up to the top of the Duomo, and I was excited when I heard that there was a lift within the cathedral as this is so rare with such old buildings. However, while there is a lift that takes you up, it does not take you all the way up. And even before you can get to the lift which has a wheelchair sign, you have to pass like 8/9 steps which have been split in two making it very narrow and awkward with crutches. And simply impossible with a wheelchair.

I felt that this was slightly misleading as if you’re in a wheelchair, all you can actually see is the outside of the cathedral and perhaps the inside but I did not find a ramp. After the lift had taken you up most of the way, there were many stairs to face and because it was kind of windy on the day, I decided not to go up the last set of stairs as I did not feel safe.

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Stairs to the top of the Duomo

It should be noted that on the tariffs notice it says that a disabled person can get in free with one person, but my friend had to pay as the guy giving out the tickets must have been in a bad mood or something.

Another sight that we went to see in Milan was the Castello Sforzesco, which was really quite impressive in and of itself and included many little museums that we did not actually end up going into because there was a fair happening just through the castle walls. And I love fairs.

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Entrance to the castle, which has free entry except the museums

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Within the castle walls

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Looking out over the water in Parco Sempione with Arco della Pace in the background

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Looked fun, but didn’t go on it

I didn’t actually end up using any public transportation in Milan because all the things I wanted to see, or could be bothered to see were within walking distance for me. This was also aided by the car service provided by the Principe. And as previously mentioned the flatness of Milans streets made it an ideal place to move around.

One thing that I really wish I could have seen was Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper which is housed within the church Santa Maria delle Grazie, unfortunately tickets were booked out like two months in advance and the only other option were really expensive tours. They would take you to the castle, which is free anyway, and a few other places so it didn’t seem worth it for the Last Supper. Next time, I will do my research!

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Stood in front of the hotel, soaking in the rays

All in all, I really enjoyed my time in Milan, I could have just stayed in the hotel and just enjoyed the facilities and amenities, but I figured I may as well make the most of it! It definitely was a pleasure to travel while crip in the city.

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about Jayon UPDATE: As of 25/09/2015 Nigeria has been removed from the WHO's Polio Endemic List! Having been born in Nigeria, I hail from one of three countries where polio is still unfortunately endemic, the other two being Pakistan and Afghanistan. I had contracted the poliovirus before my ...Read More

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