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MONZA

Before exploring Milan, I spent a couple of days in Monza. Monza is a little city, a 30-minute train ride from Milan, where İdil, who hosted me before Val Gardena, lives with her family. I started to practice Italian traditions of having a glass of aperativo before dinners, drinking wine during dinner and eating cheese afterwards. You might have heard Monza as the city which is home to the oldest Grand Prix racing circuit. Monza has its little Duomo, as well.

Ornamented with little squares and organic streets, the city makes you feel in Italy more than you’re in Milan. It was snowing heavily when I was there. Although it was chilly, seeing Villa Reale and Monza Park covered in snow was intriguing. Monza’s downtown is neat; stores are smaller but closer to each other. But, the most important of all is the local shops. I left my heart in a brasserie, while devoting all the rest to a small cheese store. Maybe, I can visit Monza again in springtime.

Orso Bruno (Monza):

In an interesting pizza place, whose chefs were from Sivas, I had the chance to have a giant pizza accompanied by a fabulous glass of wine. The oval pizza reminded me of Samsun-style pides, making it clear that a Turkish chef cooked them: I would beggar description of how tasty it was. Such a huge meal wasn’t enough for me: I ordered ice cream dessert and tiramisu as well, while washing them down my throat thanks to limoncello and mirto. Then I had to order an espresso upon such a carbohydrate explosion. I could barely breathe, annoying the gods of diet. But it was worth it. You know where to eat if you happen to visit Monza, don’t you?

MILANO

There are two destinations a tourist should head to in Milan. Duomo di Milano and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II that are both situated on the same square.

Il Duomo:

Constructed in an unbelievable period of 500 years, Duomo di Milano is the largest cathedral in the central city, while ranking as the fourth largest cathedral in Europe. This triggers a “whoa!”. Interior strained-glass windows draw particular attention when looked at under the light beams filtered through the roof. When the weather permits, climb up the terrace for a panoramic view of the city. It was freezing when I was there. So, I didn’t even consider doing so. Just comply with the tourist crowds, light up a prayer candle and be amazed by the ornamentations on the wall, while watching around with your mouth open and arms behind your back. In Milano, you’ll do it in any case.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II:

Seen upon exiting the Duomo and taking the first right, this historic structure is a glass-and-steel-roofed shopping arcade. Here, it’s for sure a fabulous architecture will encounter you wherever you look at. The tradition pledges that you can find the love of your life by grinding your heel into the testicles of the mosaic bull inside. I tried my chance. It’s not working at all. But it doesn’t give you a maturity date. On the junction paths of the Galleria, you’ll see the representation of the four seasons surrounding the area right under the glass dome. Home to elegant and historic boutiques, the buildings inside are competing with each other. Prada’s first branch, for example, is here, as well. I’d say you should see the decoration inside Prada, even if you’re not likely to buy something. Old Prada products, accessories made from mother-of-pearl and bones, are exhibited downstairs, in the antique cabinets. Fixtures are quite elegant, too. Biffi inside the Galleria was also strongly recommended to us. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to eat. We just had coffee. This historic restaurant looks tempting.

Scala theatre is also an attraction here. We only saw it from outside: we didn’t have enough time. When you’re in the city centre and touring the Duamo Square, you will surely see all those attractions. What about later? Here are bite-sized notes on the destinations either people recommended or I explored during a few days I spent in Milan. I hope it helps you.

Cova:

Among my favorite venues in Milan. An old school brasserie on Via Montenapoleone of Milan, like Nişantaşı of Istanbul. After touring the designer’s stores in the surroundings, you can have an espresso with the Milanese at the bar or enjoy the temptation of the sweets case and aperativo in the hall inside. Depending on the season, celebrate the day with bellini or sparkling wine.

Yguana:

I was a bit disappointed when I first entered the venue, asking myself what made here this special. Then I figured out that the jungle during the happy hour fascinates you with its limitless open buffet when you order a 5 Euro cocktail. Salads, fried dishes, pastas and pizzas fortify the environment with a delicate balance of the price and the taste. Milanese youngsters come here to drink and eat for less, before enjoying a long night ahead. I should have understood it when the packed expeditions headed to the chairs inside. We didn’t eat much there, because we were already scheduled for the fish place strongly recommended by a friend.

L’isola del Tesoro:

We stumbled across the place, secluded from the tourist crowds and with laid-back décor, thanks to a friend who is doing Master’s in Milan. The atmosphere of the place, which welcomed our large group, is evocative of a generic fishery in Turkey. A glass aquarium with the fish inside, blue tablecloths and complying handkerchiefs… A large hall; happy, drinking Italians… The specialty is the pasta with fish products. Visitors are provided with aprons; and attentive waiters help you wear them. The accompanying wine; shared appetizers; following mirto and limoncellos as a treat for our biscotta… Everything, I mean, was delicious and prices were incredibly moderate. Our conversation was quite fun, too. Find here when you’re in Milan.

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Lime Light:

After the nice aperativo at Yguana and the delicious experience at a local Italian restaurant, it was about time to prepare for a night out. The recommendation came from the friends who do their Master’s in Milan: Going to an Erasmus party! I have not been to an Erasmus party even during my Erasmus experience. I am not a big fan, really. But it’s a guarantee that youngsters will be shaking the venue. We confirmed the recommendation and went to Lime Light, where the party was taking place. The line was huge. Hundreds of aspiring youngsters were waiting for jostling in to enjoy the night. The club is enormous. I don’t know if I can compare the club with anywhere in Istanbul. People immediately open inviting bottles, relaxing and starting to dance. I have no idea how the club normally is. But it was fun to be in the party. So, one should not bluntly ignore an Erasmus party. The first round in Milan left an indelible taste in our mouth. Next day, we set off for Val Gardena.

Luini:

Pizzas and pastas are incomparable. But panzerottis etched on my mind. Located nearby Duomo in Milan, this little shop feeds the huge lines that gather non-stop. Trust me that exploring the haven for 2,5 Euro would not be an overstatement. Either savory or sweet, panzerottis are best when  dressed with pomodoro e mozzarella. Desserts are not bad. But savory panzerotties are definitely better. Don’t come back to Turkey without eating any.

Cioccolati Italiani:

Just across Luini, this ice cream venue, with an entire glass façade, boasts the specialty “fuso”, which is the flowing chocolate. You’ll have hard time challenging your willpower not to snap up the drawing chocolate served inside. Bask in the joys of drawing chocolate served in a bread; cup; in cone (the end freezes in the bottom of the cone, tasting like a Cornetto); or as milky, bitter or white chocolate. I didn’t like the ice cream. But both the chocolate and sandwiches are delicious. I would eat it right now.  if only it were here… You can also cheer up your loved-ones by buying souvenir chocolates with different cacao content, wrapped in colorful packs. It won’t occupy a huge place in your luggage.

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Trattoria Toscana:

We had to book our place for our last night in Milan, Saturday, in this restaurant which was interestingly decorated. You enter through a store-like kitchen area, then you come into a slightly dim courtyard, decorated with bamboos and colorful candles, which is surrounded by the ground floors of different apartments. Toscana style service is brought to the quite closely situated tables, and the specialty is tartar. I ordered meat and pasta. I wouldn’t say it was exquisite. But the atmosphere is attractive. All the Milanese hipsters seem to be hanging out here. While paying the bill, we figured out that the prices were quite affordable, too. It’s recommended.

Armani Privè:

We were ready for the night after indulging our wine and grappa at Trattoria. As it was a Saturday night, we had to reserve our place at Armani, as well. After the easy going Erasmus party last week, I was a bit reluctant about Armani, where I would probably order a bottle on the lodge Reina-wise and have to pay a fancy price. However, I didn’t rock the boat upon being convinced by my friends, who were insistent that models enjoyed themselves there, that this was a must-do in Milan. With my Dr. Martens on my feet, we eventually went to Armani Prive. We were informed that the venue would be empty before midnight; so we were there around 12 pm, after which the most elegant people of Milan started to show up. The music was not the greatest of all. Dancing to the rapidly-consumable songs of the season, everyone was each other’s competitor in being the coolest. I don’t remember the rest of the night quite properly. I told you we ordered a bottle, right?

Even though it was not as fun as the Erasmus party, Armani Prive went beyond my expectations. Those who still had some energy took taxis to continue the night at The Club. What about me? I had a flight the next day; so I went back to my hotel. The second round in Milan was as good as the first: Fun! If I had had one more day, I would have honestly toured some galleries and shopping spots. I would have also seen Como if the weather had been nice. Maybe I’ll have a successful third round in Milan one day.

In brief, Milan filled my three days, most of them in Monza, before skiing in Val Gardena, and one and a half days on the way back from Val Gardena. Before I went to Milan, everyone told me that there was not much to do. Maybe they’re right.

As far as I understood, Milan equals shopping; eating pizzas, pastas and cheese products; enjoying wines, panzerottis, mirtos and limoncellos. I also heard it’s famous for being home to the men with baklava-shaped stomachs. Check them out yourself at Abercrombie & Fitch.

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