spring break in Italy: Milan

The children’s Christmas present this year was our first international Spring Break; we landed on April Fools Day in Milan and dropped off our bags at our AirBnB by the Galleria del Corso before walking 500 feet to the beautiful Milan Cathedral.

We’d pre-booked tickets to explore the inside of the Duomo and climb to the terrazze on its roof, which offered not only awesome vies of the cathedral, but of the entire city of Milan.

When we came down, I couldn’t resist the urge to walk into the Massimo Dutti clothing store nearby and take advantage of good exchange rates and fine Italian craftsmanship; I picked up 2 linen sport coats that will be great for Atlanta summer wear.

We walked into the oldest shopping mall in the world, a glass-covered arcade built in 1877, and had dinner at the bistro section of multi-Michelin-starred chef Carlo Cracco’s restaurant eponymously called Cracco after we’d sat across from it for something to drink at Biffi, because Ernest Hemingway used to have drinks there, and I pulled up Yelp to see if there were any good options nearby for dinner and realized we were spittin’ distance from arguably the best place in town, so I figured, “We should go here!” and while the fancy part of the restaurant was all booked, the bistro area was available; it was more casual and less expensive, and it served food prepared by the famous chef from the space upstairs, so a total win!

While we were still enjoying places that are once-in-a-lifetime, I led us about a mile and a half through town, along a canal, and up to the takeaway window of Backdoor 43, famously known as the smallest bar in the world, where we’d reserved a time slot months before and ordered drinks from a masked person through a tiny slit in the wall next to a nondescript wooden door. It was awesome.

The next morning, we walked to the National Museum of Science and Technology, where there were multiple Leonardo da Vinci drawings, models, and inventions, along with military aviation exhibits, trains on display, and lots of other wonderful things to see, touch, crawl upon, and learn about for a family of 5.

We grabbed paninis to go and walked to Sforza Castle, which in addition to being cool just by its being a castle, contained Michelangelo’s last, unfinished carving, Pieta Rondanini.

We next went to the church of Santa Maria della Grazie, where The Last Supper fresco is painted in the monks’ former dining hall of all places. This took the most planning of any sight we visited in Italy, as entry is controlled by time, duration of visit, number of visitors allowed per interval, carbon dioxide emitted by said visitors, light allowed to enter the room, etc. It was magnificent to behold.

We went by our AirBnB to put on nicer clothes and then had dinner and cocktails (or mocktails) at the La Cupola Lounge at the Park Hyatt (which also meant food from a multi-Michelin starred chef) before we (after a brief stop at a tobacco shop wherein I purchased a handmade Italian pipe for my collection) went to our box seats for “Cinderella” at the Teatro Alla Scala–our family’s first opera experience at one of the most famous opera houses in the world (built in 1776).

Despite the language barrier, we loved the experience; we took advantage of the typed subtitles on the digital display below the rim of our box, and the story was already familiar to us, of course.

Not only was the singing and acting superb, but the script was also very funny (much moreso than the Disney version)!

We went to bed late that night but were very happy with how we’d spent our first day and a half in Italy and excited for the next day’s trip to Venice, the only city in Italy to which I’d been before, but a place I was very excited to share with my wife and children!

3 Comments

  1. Looks like you picked an excellent time to come over to Europe – we were still in the grips of Winter until a couple of weeks ago! 🙂

  2. Deborah Moebes

    I was so surprised by Milan, really all of Italy, but Milan was so much MORE than what we expected! I think we might have skipped it if not for the cheap flight–but we would have missed so much. Last Supper! Opera! Duomo! Such a pretty city.

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