My name is Taylor, and I’m a kinesiology major at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obsipo. Currently, I’m studying abroad with CEA in Florence, Italy!
This blog post will be about our recent overnight excursion to Milan. It was full of fun around the city, and new experiences. So far in Florence, I’ve loved exploring the city, and seeing all of the cafes, museums, and beautiful views Tuscany has to offer. Going to see Milan was a completely new experience, starting with learning the new Metro system, and a beautiful sensory overload of skyscraper-esque buildings, amazing cathedrals, and people everywhere. (And, CEA now offers a program for summer internships in Milan!)
Milan was immediately bigger than I had expected and so full of life. Life, and pigeons. Luckily, I had a friend in the program who had been to Milan before, and could show us around once we were cut loose! For lunch, we decided to go to a pizza place near the Duomo called Bottega Ghiotta, which was probably the best pizza I’ve had since arriving in Italy. If you ask to sit outside, you can sit in a room outside with glass walls, so you can see the city while you eat.
Next, we went with CEA on a tour of the Duomo, the main cathedral in the heart of the city. Inside, there’s so much culture to learn about, especially if you enjoy learning about the history of religion or architecture. It’s especially interesting to visit nearby churches and compare those to the Gothic architecture of the Duomo. My favorite part of visiting the Duomo was getting to go up to the roof, where you’re able to get a bird's eye view of the whole city.
It’s semi-impossible to talk about Milan without talking about their shopping! Fashion is almost in the “fabric” if their culture here (pun intended), so I would definitely suggest leaving the sweatpants at home. If you’re interested in fashion, you can walk into the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and see Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, and Tiffany & Co in one glance. If you want to do some shopping for yourself, there are many affordable stores for students, such as my friends’ and my favorite, Pull + Bear. It's said that Milan is always one trend ahead of the U.S., so if you’re wanting to do any shopping while in Italy, Milan is the place to do it.
Another one of my personal favorites in Milan was the fact that Milan has the only Starbucks in Italy, and with three floors and its gourmet menu, it isn’t surprising that there aren’t any others needed in a substantial radius. There is also an outdoor seating area where you can sit and order food under a shaded structure covered in vines and greenery, making for a relaxing atmosphere in the middle of the city. My dad and I love going to Starbucks together at home, so if you know anyone with a similar appreciation for the typically American coffee company, this is a perfect place to snap a picture to make people at home jealous, or grab a souvenir to bring home to family or friends.
One unique thing about Milan compared to other parts of Italy that I’ve visited so far is their variety of food. I’m currently taking a course called The Culture of Food & Wine In Italy, so I’ve learned about the fact that there technically is no such thing as “Italian cuisine.” Instead, each region has their own specialties, taste preferences, and local favorites. Here, they have a variety of foods from different cultures, such as Thai food, Mexican food, etc. For example, my friends and I went to dinner at a sushi restaurant, where between all of us we probably ordered one of everything on the menu, and it was all delicious. Another favorite place to go in Milan among our excursion group was the Navigli District. Although I didn’t get a chance to go there myself in the short time we were there, I definitely would recommend it to anyone with some extra time there, to grab a bite to eat along the canal or take scenic pictures of all of the colorful buildings.
So, if city life, fashion, lots of cultural variety in food, and religious and architectural history interest you, Milan is definitely the place for you.
Taylor Ward is a CEA Summer Content Contributor studying abroad in Florence, Italy, during Summer 2019. She is currently a student at California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo.