The first and last stop on my trip to the Lombardy region was Milan. Industrial and dirty, the city didn't wow me, but did come through with the best gelato, world famous Duomo, and of course its central location served as a hub to nearby cities. Sadly, da Vinci's "The Last Supper" was under construction while I visited, but it's still going on the list of things to do, below.
Milan is obviously a huge city with an international airport, Malpensa Airport MXP, but it also includes two other airports: Linate Airport LIN and Orio al Serio BGY.
I flew in and out of MXP, and I was able to hop on a train to Lake Como. It may have been confusing and convoluted, but it was available and I made it. Transportation to and from MXP to Milan central is easy and there are many options by train and bus.
Bear in mind that there are two main train stations within Milan. Once, I ended up at the Garibaldi Station, when I meant to arrive at Centrale. One of many times that the Italian trains succeeded in their cruel game of "How to Confuse Katie." The stations aren't far apart, unless you're in a time crunch. In that case, hop in a taxi and fork over 7 Euro.
The metro is a great option and pretty easy to navigate. It will save you time, expense, and tired feet.
Things to see:
1. The Duomo, of course!
Lines can be quite long, so either go on a tour or get a ticket that at least lets you jump to the front. If you like rooftop views, you can choose that ticket option as well. I visited around 10:00am, and there weren't too many people yet. By the time I came out, the crowd had quadrupled. Go early!
2. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
This is the beginning of indoor shopping malls. It has plenty of shops that are out of my price range, but the ornate building, very high ceilings and outdoor feel makes it a destination for any tourist. On the other side is the Duomo, so you can't miss it.
3. Gelato at Vanilla Gelati Italiani
I was told that if you get a small bit of ice in your bite of gelato, then it's the real deal. This was the first shop that I experienced that, which is why it goes on the list! I went twice.
4. Cemeteries of Milan
While I didn't visit any, I was told that there are some spectacular cemeteries in Milan. My friends love gothic architecture, so if you do too, you may want to check out Cimitero monumentale di Caltagirone.
5. Leonardo di Vinci's The Last Supper
It would have been wonderful to see this piece of art, but it was closed when I visited. I also know that there are hoards of tourists, so plan ahead and get a tour guide to help your visit go more smoothly.
I spent a total of 24 hours in Milan, and that was enough. I would recommend using this as a launching point, rather than staying here unless you have a specific reason to visit.
For more mini-guides to other regions of Italy, check out my Italy page. To start at the beginning of this 6 day trip, you can begin in Como.