The Magical Land of Milan

After spending two days soaking up the sun in the French Riviera, Derek and I made our way east to Milan. Just as with Nice, we didn’t have much time in this city. However, we did have quite a lengthy bucket-list so we wasted no time getting out to explore.

First stop: Duomo di Milano.

We were both so eager to visit this cathedral. I mean, just look at it. Such a masterpiece, right!? We were in such awe of the architecture that we found ourselves standing in the plaza, frozen with astonishment. After escaping the hypnosis, we began the climb to the top.

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It took 919 steps, but the view atop of the cathedral was just stunning.

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No doubt, it was worth the climb.

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Helpful tip for all the ladies out there — if you are planning to visit inside the cathedral, make sure to wear a dress covering your knees and shoulders. This is a MUST!

Funny thing is, my dress did not meet neither of these requirements. We bought our tickets, stood in line, and then BAM — rejection. I couldn’t squeeze by security. It was a hardcore negative. Talk about embarrassment. But, after seeing the forecast of sunny & 70 earlier that morning, I was so excited to wear a sundress, and didn’t even think about there being a stern dress-code. Whoops…

Fortunately, your ticket is valid a few days after purchase, so we came back the next morning when I was fully clothed, by their standards.

*If you’re looking to just climb to the top, you can wear whatever you want!

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Next up was visiting the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls.

Talk about a beaut. Housed within two glass-vaulted arcades, this had to have been — by far — the fanciest mall I’ve stepped foot in. While the shops were wayyyy out of my price range, it still was such a sight to walk through.

But, trust me, there was certainly a lot of window-shopping and daydreaming taking place in my mind.

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Not too far from the “mall,” you’ll find the tastiest calzones ever at Luini Panzerotti.

Warm, cheesy goodness. If you’re a pizza lover, this is your kind of paradise.

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No matter how many times we come across the street vendors selling buckets and buckets of fresh flowers, I somehow can never get enough.

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Surprise, surprise — gelato!

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We stumbled across the cutest gas station.

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And of course, fell in love with each and every cobblestone street we could find.

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More window shopping.

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Derek was so fascinated with the old trams, which they were pretty cool in a retro kind of way.

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There were so, so, so many itty-bitty-teeny-tiny cars around the city. Each time we spotted one, my heart filled with a bit more happiness. I wish I could have just picked one up and crammed it in my pocket to take back with me to the States.

My ultimate dream car for sure!

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Then, there was the CAT CAFE! I had been reading about these cafes, but never thought we’d stumble upon one in Milan. It was so much fun sipping on a foamy latte while playing with all the kitties. What a genius idea.

Even though we did get charged a small fee for “cat therapy”…!

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I thought the fee was worth it. Not sure if Derek did though!

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So much color in such random places. I loved that about this city!

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This city was so much fun to explore. While we didn’t really know what to expect when arriving in Milan, we both fell in love with all the different neighborhoods. Our absolute favorite area we discovered while strolling around was the Navigili neighborhood.

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Such laid-back and casual vibes along the Ripa di Porta Ticinese, the street that’s sliced by a canal.

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This street certainly had a Venetian feel to it. With all the sidewalk seating, you could tell it was quite the hub for good eats and happy hours.

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Before saying goodbye to Milan, we obviously had to make time for an Italian aperitivo.

Let me just tell you, a tasty spritz combined with olives, nuts, and other delicious snacks is the best cure for any tired feet.

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I think I can speak for both Derek and myself when I say our favorite memory in Milan will forever be the Airbnb we were able to call “home.” This Airbnb experience was unlike any other.

For starters, this apartment is someone’s permanent residence when not being rented — the homeowner, Christina, stayed with a friend while we were there. As soon as we stepped foot through the threshold, we could just sense the warmth and love that went into making this house a home. The family photographs hung on the wall. The art. Her collection of books. It was as if we were shown a sliver of her life.

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We were welcomed with fresh olives and cheeses, and a basket full of goodies. It was such a sweet and lovely gesture. We chatted around the table, sipping on a glass of cold, Italian wine. Despite the fact we had just met, at that moment, Christina seemed more like a friend, rather than simply a host.

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Derek and I love staying in Airbnbs when we travel. It’s amazing how quickly you can feel at home, no matter how short your stay might be.

This special experience reinforced the power Airbnb has to make the world seem a bit smaller. It’s truly the gateway to connecting communities and creating a sense of belonging, all around the world.

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Thank you for a lovely visit, Milan. With delicious food, friendly people, and stunning architecture, you are simply magical. And I’m so thankful we had a chance to meet.

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*If you want to read more about our European backing adventure thus far, check out below!

Spain: Madrid: here, here, here // Barcelona: here // Girona here.

France: Nice: here.

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