Milan Travel Guide
Trust us for a sec; we totally get why you'd want to have an aisle seat on an international flight (easy to get up and stretch, elbow room, etc), but we're personally huge fans of the window seat. Maybe it's because the world looks so coollike a real-life Google Earthfrom above, or maybe it's because we just like being able to lean against the window and drool an something that isn't a strangers shoulder. Still, there's much to be said for the window seat.
For example, this amazing view, taken while landing at Milan-Malpensa Airport. Indeed those are the Alps in the distance, although they don't seem too distant when you're flying just a bit above them, with a perfect view directly down into ski villages, hopping with the rich at this time of the year.
Need any more reason to choose the window? Check out the video version of this image.
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One of the major perks to flying to Europe from the US is not just that you're on your way to Europe for heaven's sakes, but also that you'll likely be treated to some amazing sights outside your plane window. For example, on both our recent to and from flights for JFK-Milan on American Airlines, we enjoyed almost a full hour of looking straight down to the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss and Italian Alps. There's nothing quite like being reminded exactly how high in altitude those peaks are as when you're sharing airspace with them.
If you're heading to Switzerland for some skiing or northern Italy for any reason, be sure to choose your seat for the best views based on the POSH ruleport out, starboard homeand you too can catch the full panorama, kinda like this:
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Via Montenapoleone in Milan. It's the Italian equivalent of New York's 5th Avenue or Avenue Montaigne in Paris, but Via Montenapoleone is a bit smaller, slightly less of a tourist draw during the low season (aka winter, so long as it's not Fashion Week). We recently took a stroll down it just to take advantage of what it's best for, which is not shopping, but window shopping. We were all set to focus our gaze on shiny patent pumps and quilted bags, but instead we spent all our time looking down at the sidewalk, and the unexpected street art right below our feet.
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Ahh...duty-free souvenirs. Buying stuff at the airport is always a Catch-22; you have extra currency and maybe want to bring home a few extra things to give as gifts, but you sure don't want to pay the prices they charge and sometimes, the selection just sucks.
Not so at Milan's Malpensa Airport, however. Yesterday, while we (thankfully) caught the last direct flight back to JFK before the snow cancellations set in, we managed to stock up on everything from Provolone cheese and Bresaola cured beef to squid ink-infused risotto. And then we grabbed the most kitschy souvenir of allthe 4 Euro Monumenti d'Italia bag of multicolore pasta. The details are...glorious.
Can you name all of the Italian landmarks depicted in the pasta above? Answers this way...
Hot men and haute menswear is dominating Milan this week as Men's Fashion Week wraps up, but although the runway and cocktail hours are private, invite-only events, they are often held in the best, most normally tourist-friendly areas. This way, even if you aren't among the select fashionistas to walk the red carpet, you'll still be able to visit and enjoy the scenery on any other normal day.
Case in point: Dolce & Gabbana, the Italian designer label by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, recently celebrated the 20th Anniversary of their Menswear Collection, and they did so in grand style with a giant fashion show and after-party at Palazzo Marino, Milan's City Hall, which spilled out into Piazza della Scala.
Need several excuses to visit Milan? A Renaissance-era library has begun exhibiting Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks, which due to preservation requirements will go on display 45 pages at a time and rotate every three months. So if you can't get to the Bibliotheca Ambrosiana by December 2 to check out da Vinci's military drawings, you have until 2015 to get there and see some of the polymath's magnificent work.
Founded by a cardinal who thought it would aid the Counter-Reformation, the Biblioteca Ambrosiana hosted the second public library in Europe and, unlike most book collections of the day, displayed its treasures in glass cases instead of chaining them to desks against thievery. These days, you still can't borrow anything from the Bibliotheca, but it offers literature classes and, for now, a chance to check out some da Vinci you won't find in other museums.
Yes, we know that's a radiation icon, but we mean it in a Hazmat capacity
A fat lady singing can't do anything for asbestos removal, as Milan's La Scala is finding out. Back in spring, officials in Milan discovered the toxic stuff in the famed opera house's ceiling, and they've just now closed down the 270 seats of the uppermost tier in order to begin removal.
This poses a problem for the tourists who, in last few months, have possibly been exposed to asbestos from officials rustling up there, but thankfully it's been confirmed that there's no spread of asbestos. Ticket holders will either be offered an upgrade to better and less toxic eating, or, if that's unavailable, then a simple refund. No loud Italian opera for the cheapskates, we guess.
Most famous for his "Abraham Obama" image pictured above, Ron takes inspiration from cartoons, corporate branding, and the works of Andy Warhol. As a result, his paintings and posters are bright riffs on popular culture meant to inspire re-examination of the symbols we see everyday; for example, his work was featured in the movie Super Size Me.
Although we occasionally are lucky enough to spot some of his posters around the corner, heading to Milan to see his oeuvre sounds way more exotic. The Don Gallery will host the exhibition from today through August 25.
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This week in Milan, lamps will looks like water droplets and couches will resemble dropcloths; that's right, it's the modern furniture show called Salone del Mobile, which attracts design gurus and international press through the 27th of April. An annual event which could be called the Fashion Week of the interior furnishings world, the Salone turns the city itself into something of a canvas, as artists as well as brands use major streets, like the swish Via Montenapoleone pictured above, to broadcast their presence.
Italy's new high-speed train service, Freccia Rossa ("Red Arrow"), made its inaugural high-speed rail service yesterday from Milan to Rome. The new service now lets travelers get from the fashion capital to the Eternal City in just three hours. (Currently, the trip takes about four hours.) Passengers can also get from Florence to Bologna in just 35 minutes, down from one hour.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi rode the inaugural trip, even posing in the pilot's cabin wearing the chief engineer's hat. He looks so...cute?
With about a foot of snow falling on Milan and the rest of Northern Italy, officials closed both Malpensa and Linate airports, though both have now re-opened with "strongly reduced" traffic. (Translation: Your flight is delayed.)
But like a snowstorm in New York keeping your flight out of Vegas on the ground, the winter weather in Italy had wide-reaching consequences: David Beckham, who's been in Dubai training with temporary team AC Milan, will be stuck in the land of high-altitude bars and dirty beaches until at least Friday.
While public transit is still running in Milan, the streets look pretty empty. All the better for photographers to venture out and capture some interesting images, like these, of a city that rarely sees this much snow.
Milan is the latest city to introduce a bike sharing scheme, with 72 stations, hundreds of bikes currently and plans to grow. Right now, it's only available by yearly subscription (€25, $36), but come January, weekly ($9) and daily ($4) rates--that include your first 30 minutes of bike use for free--will become available for purchase online or at select "ATM Points" in the city. Not bank machines, they're offices of Azienda Trasporti Milanesi, the local transit authority, which you can find in a number of subway stations.
BikeMi is yet another partnership with Clear Channel, the advertising company that's helped set up similar programs in Barcelona, Rennes, France and Washington, DC.
Perhaps the coolest thing about BikeMi is the live-updated Google Map that shows you not only where "rental" stations are but how many bikes and empty parking slots are available. Get to the Duomo now and you'll have your pick of 10 bright-orange rides.
[Photo: Ambrosiana Pictures]