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We stayed at the B&B Brera Prestige. This is a modern and chic B&B located in the Brera neighborhood within 5 min walking distance from the Castello Sforza and 15 min from the Duomo. It was spacious and very clean, with the host checking daily that we were comfortable and restocking amenities like coffee, wine, water and shampoo among others. When traveling overseas, I spend the first couple of days recovering from the jet lag; I usually wake up very early and then my energy crashes by midday. This time I was awake by 4:30 am, so our plan for the morning was to take it easy and only check the Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.
Our 15 min walk towards the Duomo began around 9:15 am. Along the way we passed several “Bars” with delicious looking pastries and busy coffee counters. In Italy the establishments/cafeterias that offer coffee drinks, wine & alcohol, pastries, sandwiches and paninies are called BARS. I love pastries, so we went inside the Bar that had the biggest pastry selection; I got a delicious, warm and just taken out of the oven croissant and my husband got his usual morning beverage when traveling, a double espresso. We stopped one more time at another bar, just before reaching our destination, to grab a couple of sandwiches that caught our attention through the glass window. When exploring a new place, I love that first contact with the local cuisine; the experience is usually unforgettable and sets the tone to a great beginning of a new adventure. Fed and happy, we were ready for the Duomo.
I usually feel more comfortable having tickets in advance, but this time we decided to buy them at the venue. You can buy the tickets online, but you’ll be charged with a delivery cost and a service fee. We arrived at the main entrance at around 10:15 am, it was a Tuesday and the line was almost nonexistent. We were directed by the guards to the ticket office at the entrance of the Duomo Museo ①. Later we learned that there was a second and bigger ticket office on one of the sides of the Duomo Museo ②.
I recommend you to first check the ticket office at the entrance of the museum ①; the line was shorter and the process was simpler, with 2 guys charging for the tickets. The other ticket office ② seemed too crowded and in a little bit of chaos. On the positive side, if you are paying with credit card, the ticket office ② has ticket machines where you can make your own transaction.
The entrance to the Duomo Cathedral which includes a visit to the Duomo Museum costs 3€. Beware that there is a dress code too enter the Cathedral: shoulders have to be covered, and skirts and shorts can’t be too short. Guards at the door will deny you entrance if they feel you are not dressed appropriately. So don’t waste your time and money, if in your day plan it is to visit a church, start by dressing accordingly or bring with you something to cover your shoulders and legs.
QUICK TIP: Since I don’t like sleeves, I always carry a chal or pashmina. It not only covers my shoulders in churches, but at times I use it as protection from the sun. I’ve seen women selling them outside of some churches in Europe, you can use them also to cover your legs if necessary.
If your plan is to also visit the Duomo terrace and the archeological site, buy all your tickets as a combo; you will save money. Don’t make the same mistake we made of first buying the Cathedral tickets and then having to jump back in line to buy the terrace tickets. Going up to the terrace by lift costs 13€ and 9€ by foot. For us it was worth to pay extra for the lift, we wanted to save our energy as much as possible.
After enjoying the Duomo and its piazza for almost 2 hours, we went inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele to do some window shopping; it is located just steps from the piazza del Duomo. The Galleria was named after the first king of the Kingdom of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II, and is considered one of the oldest shopping malls in the world. If you are looking to do some luxury shopping, this is the place to be. You can find brands like Louis Vuitton, Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana to mention some. The galleria also counts with restaurants where you can enjoy traditional Italian and local dishes while enjoying a beautiful view.
At this point, we were almost out of energy, so we decided to walk back to our B&B and rest. On our way back, we found a jewel; a juice/smoothie stand on Piazza Carmine where we picked fruits and veggies for a tasty and refreshing beverage. After having the juice, we felt revitalized so we went for a walk to the Castello Sforza which was only 5 min away from our B&B.
Our evening plan was to visit the Navigli District. Before living California, I printed a map of the Milan Metro System and became familiar with it. The Metro system is very simple; it only counts with 3 lines: red, yellow and green, costs 1.50 per trip and you can connect within lines with the same ticket. To get to the Navigli district from our area, we took the green metro line at the Lanza stop in the Assago/Abbiategrasso direction and got off at the Porta Genova stop. From there it is only a 5 min walk.
The Navigli District is a picturesque neighborhood full of bars, restaurants and art galleries bordered by 2 canals: the Milan Naviglio Grande and the Naviglio Pavese. The “Navigli”, that translates to canals, is a visit into Milan past; a glimpse of a time when there were five interconnected canals that crossed the city. If you are looking for an activity while visiting this area, consider taking a cruise along Naviglio Grande and/or an evening walking tour with food and wine.
We tried to stay until sunset, but in Italy during this time of the year the sun doesn’t set until after 9 pm. We were tired and hungry and preferred to enjoy a meal near our B&B, so we left Navigli area around 7pm. We had dinner at the Taverna del Borgo Antico to end the day.
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