25 January 2012

Ciao Milan: Q & A - Part 1

Grab your popcorn, chips or nuts and drinks, this is gonna be long. Bear in mind that i'll be talking of Milan, the 2nd most expensive city in Italy now (next to Bolzano). You might end up grabbing for a calculator!!! =)

I have been living here since 1994. Nearing two decades. I just feel the trees here are as old as my stay here. Kidding! People, especially in the Philippines usually ask me, "You're in Milan? Is that near Rome?" I would just reply, "Nope, Rome is very far from Milan."

I'm not a travel blog expert, so what you read in here is just what i think of, while writing. if i miss something, let me know.

Q: Where is Milan?
A: Milan (Milano) is the 2nd largest city in Italy and the capital of the Lombardy region. It's located at the northern part of the country. See Wikipedia for other details.

Q: How to go to Milan?
A: If you're from other parts of the world, you need a Schengen Visa. Travelling on a Schengen visa means that the visa holder can travel to any (or all) member countries using one single visa, thus avoiding the hassle and expense of obtaining individual visas for each country. You can go to the 25 countries such as: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Go to the respective embassies near you.

Q: How much is the plane ticket to Milan?
A: We'll take the Philippines as the point of departure/arrival, ok. Airplane fares differ from airlines and the date of departures. If you will travel between July-August, or December- January, they're peak season, so expect the expensive airfare. It can costs you between 700euro to 1,200euro, depending on the airline.

Let's take the 55Php per 1 Euro conversion:
Average Ticket Fare (Back & Forth) : 600euro = Php 33,000 per person.
If you travel with a child above 2 y/o, only 100euro or so, is subtracted.

Note: Early Booking is cheaper, so if you really plan to travel, reserve tickets 2 or 3 months before.
I have tried Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. They're a bit expensive, but the service is awesome. Cheaper airlines are: Etijad, Qatar, Saudia, and other arab airlines. But, i'm a bit awkward taking those planes, for the too long wait at stop overs and the wee hours of departure/arrival. It's your choice of course. Ask your travel agent.

Q. Where do i land in Milan?
A: There are 3 main airports in Milan.
(1) Malpensa Airport (MXP)
(2) Linate Airport (LIN)
(3) Orio al Serio (BGY-Bergamo)

Tip: If i am your contact, i will suggest the Linate Airport which is based literally in Milan. I can fetch and take you there in an hour or so

by Taxi, if you have a lot/heavy buggages (around 40-50 euro = 2200-2750Php)
by Bus if you only have 1 or 2 manageable luggages (1.50euro = 82.50php), eto mas tipid (tiis-bitbit nang konti)

Q: Where to Tour?
A: This is the best part. Milan has too many tourist spots.
I won't post fotos anymore, better to see it for yourself. Check: Around Milan
The list doesn't mean you need to travel first or last ok. This is, if I will be your tour guide.

First things first:

* The Ticket (for commuters). Milan is accessible by bus, train, tram and subways. The ticket costs 1.50euro = 82.50Php, for 90 minutes of travel. So, if you will be travelling around the city, i suggest you get the One-day ticket which costs 4.50euro = 247.50Php, so you would not have the hassles of validating too much tickets or spending more.

* The Language - You're in Milan. Expect the people to speak in Italian. Most of the people don't speak english, so make sure if you're travelling alone, have a map/travel guide in english language. You would end up using sign language to the passers-by when you ask for directions or anything. Sure thing, when you see a Pinoy/Pinay, you're saved.
The drinks and the foods will be discussed later. =)

* Weather - If you really want to visit Milan, the best months to go is during spring season (between April-June), not so cold, not so hot. The coolest months are from December to February, while the hottest months are from July-September.

Pretend i am just beside you travelling.

1) Castello Sforzesco (Sforzesco Castle).
This used to be the seat and residence of the Milan Monarchy, from the 14th century. From our house, the bus stops literally in front of this magnificent castle. So expect me to bring you first here. Different museums are now inside the castle. Most of them are relics of the buildings, fotos and history of the castle itself. I have been there once (because one pinoy worker let us in, for free)

Museum Ticket prices:
3euro = 165 Php
Free Access: boys and girls under 18 years of age.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday -4:30-5:30
Friday 2:00-5:30

2) Acquario Civico di Milano (Milan Aquarium)
This is just near the (1) Castle. No worries, entrance is free!
Opens from Tuesdays to Sundays: 9:00-1:00, and 2:00-5:30pm

During summer (July-September) there is a little bar (tambayan) nearby the aquarium which serves Halu-Halo. The italian owner's wife is a filipina, that's why.
Halu-Halo - 2.50 euro (with leche flan) = 137.50 Php

3) Piccolo Teatro di Europa (European Little Theater) - Just nearby the aquarium, for foto purposes. Of course, you might not be interested to watch for a stage show in italian, right?

4) Duomo di Milan (Milan's Duomo Cathedral)

Obviously it's the trademark of Milan, from post cards to travel fotos, all you can see is the Duomo di Milano. This structure took more than 500 years to build, the fourth largest in Europe and the 2nd largest cathedral in the world. If you want to go up on the roof by stairs, it will cost you 5euro = 275Php, or by elevator, 8euro = 440Php.

5) Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II

Adjacent to the Duomo is the big and elegant gallery where big branded stores, restaurants are inside. The architecture is remarkable. There you will find the "wishing spot. it is consider a good luck to stand or twirl around on the testicles of the bull of Turin. I don't really knew the why-abouts, but it became a tradition. I tried it so many times, and some wishes came true. No harm trying.

6) Teatro Alla Scala
This is located at the end of the (5) Galleria, so you should not miss this. This is the famous theater where Pavarotti, Maria Callas, etc. used to sing their great operas and stage plays. Every December, the theater opens, so famous people/celebrities and politicians flock the building. In front of the theater is the Palazzo Marino, the seat of Italian Municipal Government, where the Mayor works. Expect some rallies/barricades from time to time there.

Walking along the theater street is the Via Manzoni and Via Montenapoleone, the most chic shopping area in Milan. I bumped into some italian/world celebrities from time to time. I was amazed by the late Lady Diana when i saw her walking in her simple but elegant pants and blazer. My camera is not quicker than her bodyguards. (natakpan ng kamay, sigh). I also giggled once when i saw Ricky Martin in front of the Versace store. Cute, but he's gay (sayang)
But this is another story. I need another blog for this. =)

7) Sant'Ambrogio Basilica (St. Ambrose Basilica)

St. Ambrose is the patron saint of Milan. It is always celebrated on December 7, so expect the red date on italian calendar. Here you can find the remains of the two guards who watch Jesus' tomb. The bones are still intact. Access to the church is free of course. for the candles, like every church, you just need to donate. There's a small machine for translation for the tourist. But i guess it needs coins too. 1.00euro = 55Php something (not sure)

8) Cadorna Stazione Ferrovie (Cadorna Train Station)

This is where you take the train if you're going to the other provinces of the Lombardy region. Nice for foto souvenirs. You can see the giant needle and thread designed from the fountain at the center, ending up infront of the train station.

9) Triennale Design Museum of Milan

Just near the Cadorna Train Station. If you're a museum wanderer, you can have a side trip there.

10) Chiesa Sta. Maria delle Grazie (Church)

Inside the church museum, you will find the original Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. If you want to see this, you have to at least reserve ticket online or book by phone. It's always sold out. So i suggest if you will go to Milan, 1 or 2 months before, you need to reserved/buy a ticket for the Last Supper online. Walk-in tourists are not accepted. Be there 20 minutes before your schedule and bring some id's. Chances are if you're sure you will come here, tell me ahead. i can call from here directly for the reservation.

entrance fee: 6.50euro = 357.50Php - for last Supper only, 15 minutes
reservation: 1.50 = 82.50
guided tour: 17.00 = 935.00 - Last supper & Church tour, 1.5 hour


So there's the 10 spots for sure i can take you in 1 or 2 days, including the picture taking, shopping and eating.

Q: Where to Stay?
A: There are many "economical" hotels in Milan
1 star - from 14euro to 35euro (770Php - 1925Php) per night
2 stars - from 45euro to 50euro (2475Php - 2750php)
3 stars - from 50euro to 70euro (2750Php - 3850Php)

Depending on the location, the prices vary.
See some info's Hotels in Milan

Note: If you are a friend of mine, or you will be travelling in 2, my house is wide open for accomodation. Tiis-siksik lang ha. Our crib is only a 79sq.m. flat condo type. What matter is you can save your hotel budget for a shopping spree.

Q: Where to Eat?
A: Lots of good bars/restaurants around.
I will suggest the economical ones that i frequently go.

McDonald's : Happy Meal - 4euro (220Php)
Medium Size - 6.90 (379.50Php)
Maxi Size Meal - 7.90euro (434.50Php)

Spizzico (Pizza Restaurant)
1 slice of pizza - minimum 4.50euro = 247.50Php
1 glass of coke - small size 2.20euro = 121.00Php

of course it always depends on the pizza flavor or drinks size.

Ciao Ristorante: Buffet Style, italian foods
plates ranges from 4euro (220Php) for pasta
to 6euro (330Php) for 2nd plates

Yuan Mongolian Restaurant: Chinese/Asian Food.
eat all you can: 7.90euro (434.50Php)
with grills : 12.90euro (709.50Php)

Ice Creams: Cones, from 2euro (110Php) to 2.50euro (137.50Php)
Glass, from 2euro (110Php) to 3.50euro (192.50Php)

Coffee: 0.80 cents (normally) 44Php
Cappuccino: 1.00 euro = 55Php
Mineral water, half liter: 1.00 = 55Php

Note: it always depends on the bar you were in. Prices can go higher.

Souvenirs: Postcards: 0.50 cents 27.50Php
Keychains: 3-5euro (165-275Php)
Tshirt: I love MI, Milano, etc. - 15-25euro (750-1375Php)
Cup/Mugs: 10-15euro (550-750Php)

Ok, so there you are. This is only the first part of our trip.
Side trips, next!

Ci vediamo a Milano!
See YOU in Milan!


ripemango said...

very interesting write-up! can't wait to visit Milan! :)

I noticed there are reasonably rates hotels, sights entrances are reasonably priced, but the expensive ones are eating out/ transpo? how much is a plate of authentic pomodoro or carbonara?
some questions-

1.) two days is ok for Milan? como, included?

2.) how far from rome, venice and florence? how to travel from Milan?

3.) shopping!!?!! best buys?

4.) mustn't miss quaint little
restos and bazaars?

thanks butterfly... the best!!

butterfly said...

authentic pomodoro or carbonara?
depends on the restaurant. but it's quite from 5.00euro above per plate.

1.) two days is ok for Milan? como, included? if you will stay only 15minutes or so in each spots, a half day in Como is good enough. but, of course, even 3 days, always bitin. i suggest itodo na...4-5 days. sayang airfare =)

2.) how far from rome, venice and florence? how to travel from Milan?
from Rome, by bullet train takes 3 hrs. venice as well as florence, 2.5 hrs.
3.) shopping!!?!! best buys?
3) shopping, i suggest Corso Buenos Aires..longest shopping area in Milan. all the brands are there. but, flea markets are not bad at all. that's every Saturdays at Naviglio Grande. parang tutuban. for little restorans, they're all worth a try. like chicken and chicken, it's Milan's TFC version.
Malls aren't as big as MOA, but there's one near our home, pwedeng walk lang, andun na rin halos branded stuffs.

4.) mustn't miss quaint little
restos and bazaars?

butterfly said...

*never mind the double pastes of words =)

RipeMango said...

thank you for this blog. i'm so excited if ever our dream to visit Italy will be a reality. sabi nga nila, Goals not written down are just wishes... kaya, dapat i plan in details para matuloy! looking forward to part II :)

Michelle said...

Im here in milan now ur blog is very interesting. How can i book for the last supper from here? Salamat po