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Milan Italy Vacation

2-3 days family vacation in Milan

by Shirley
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Milan Italy Vacation Tips

Our family did Milan Italy Vacation around Christmas time in 2022 and absolutely enjoyed it. I’ve done lots of research prior to the trip and also learned a ton while we were on the ground. I am gladly sharing with you our experiences and lessons learned here.

Milan Cathedral Rooftop {family vacation}
Milan Cathedral Rooftop, December 2022

DIY family travel plan or using a travel agency?

It does take lots of time to research and plan your travel when using a do-it-yourself approach. However, I can tell you that if your situation allows it, DIY totally worth it and makes the vacation so much more fun.

How to book travel including flight and hotel

Read here for general thoughts I summarized on how to book a flight and hotel for a family vacation.

how to book flight and hotel for family vacation

Where to stay for Milan Italy Vacation?

When we visited Milan, we stayed in the Milan Central Station {Milano Centrale} area, which we found very convenient to go visit various points of interest.

It is worth mentioning that there are lots of Chinese restaurants within walking distance of Milano Centrale. I am especially impressed by one that is called “Ristorante Pizzeria AL Passeggero” {Chinese Name Quan Ju De 全聚德} located at Via Giovanni Schiaparelli, 1, 20125 Milano MI.

Peking {a.k.a. Beijing} Roasted Duck {北京烤鸭} and many ways of eating it

Their Beijing Roasted duck {Peking duck} is off the chart. I have been to the best Peking duck house in Beijing, and have to say theirs is no less if not better.

Milan Peking duck house

Traditional Peking Duck house in Beijing offers “one duck, two ways of eating” {Yi Ya Liang Chi 一鸭两吃}. The first and primary way of eating Beijing Roasted Duck is to wrap skin-on roasted duck slices in a paper-thin pancake, called duck pancake or Ya Bing {鸭饼} into a mini burrito. Scallion, cucumber and carrot slices, along with “Tian Mian Jiang” {甜面酱 sweet bean paste} are the other iconic ingredients for the mini roasted duck burrito. The second way of eating Beijing Roasted Duck is to make soup out of duck bones. Tofu, FenSi {粉丝, mung bean threads}, shiitake mushroom, and napa cabbage are among the popular ingredients for duck soup.

Needless to say, tons of duck meat without the skin is not utilized when eating the above-mentioned two ways. After all, only the top layer of the duck has the skin on luxury. That’s exactly the reason why you order one duck in Beijing duck house and found yourself not getting enough meat.

To my nice surprise, Ristorante Pizzeria AL Passeggero offers “one duck, three ways of eating” {Yi Ya San Chi 一鸭三吃}. They slice the duck meat without the skin to make a duck vegetable stir fry, which is delicious, creative and thoughtful.

Milan Local Transportation

How to go from Milan airport to the city center?

Milan has two airports, one international and one domestic. Malpensa Aeroporto {MXP}, the international airport is located northwest of the Milan city center, which takes about 1 hour by express train or bus. Milan Linate Airport, the domestic airport is directly west of Milan city center and takes about 30 minutes by regular bus.

Milan airports

From the Malpensa airport, we used Malpensa Express {train} to get to Milan center at Milan Central Station {Milano Centrae}. For the tickets, you can either buy online from the official Malpensa Express website in advance and save the QR code on your mobile phone or buy at the train stop at the airport. We got a family {4 people} special package {33 euros} one-way tickets.

When using Malpensa Express, like the regular train systems, pay attention to the platform information and make sure you are at the right platform. We initially waited on the wrong platform, but fortunately were advised by kind train staff.

How to get around while in Milan vacationing?

Like most European metropolitan cities, Milan has well-developed public transportation systems. The company ATM owns both bus and metro, thus the ticket can cover both modes. Between the metro and bus, you can get to all Milan points of interest easily.

Milan public transportation for vacation

As for the ticket, you can buy it at Milano Centrale Station using vending machine or from a private company office. The price is the same. They are 2 euros for a single ride, 7 euros for a daily unlimited ride, or 12 euros for 3 days of unlimited rides. Check out the most up-to-date information on ATM’s official website.

Milan Major Points of Interest for first-time vacationers

We visited Duomo di Milano {Milan Cathedral} including Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, “The Last Supper”, and Sforzesco castle while we were there.

Duomo di Milano {Milan Cathedral}

Milan Cathedral or Duomo di Milano in Italian is a must-see when you are in Milan. Highly recommend you buy tickets online in advance via their official website directly. By the way, museums in Italy now all have robust online ticketing systems and the price is very reasonable. Youth under 14 years old usually enjoy a reduced price.

For the ticket, there are different packages to choose from. I got the “Duomo Pass Lift” which includes taking the lift up to the rooftop, Cathedral itself, the Duomo museum across from the Cathedral, and the archaeological site beneath the Cathedral.

inside Duomo di Milano {MIlan Cathedral}
inside Duomo di Milano {MIlan Cathedral}

What is the flow of visiting Duomo di Milano look like? How much time do I need to plan for it?

You can easily spend a big chunk of the day in the Milan Cathedral area. Start with visiting the rooftop which takes 1-2 hours. Then descend via stairs and land inside the Cathedral. We then rented an audio guide, which is about 4-6 euros per person, a similar price across most Italian museums we visited, by the way, and walk around inside the Cathedral while listening to the audio guide. This will take at least 1 hour.

By the way, most of the audio guides we rented during this Italy trip across Milan, Florence, and Venice is Hua Wei smartphones. Most of the museums do provide headsets, but some do not. Save the cheap headset you’ve got from the airplane to use later for the audio guide if you’d like to.

Archaeological area Milan Cathedral
Archaeological area Milan Cathedral

After that, spend approximately 45 minutes at the archaeological site which is beneath the Cathedral. You then take a lunch/refreshment break and walk across the street to visit the Duomo museum, the church of San Gottardo, and potential exhibitions, which will take at least 2 hours.

You will need to pick a time when buying the ticket. The time is referring to the lift. The entrance to the lift is different from taking the stairs. For the stairs, you enter from the main entrance facing the square. For the lift, you will go around to the side to enter.

Mian Family Vacation
1. Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Miano} Rootfop
2. The iconic Milan Panettone
3. In front of Santa Maria delle Grazie church, home to the famous da Vinci painting “The Last Supper”
4. Across the street from Sforzesco Castle {Castello Sforzesco}
5. Right side of the Sforzesco Castle
6. food from the Chrismas market next to Milan Cathedral

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and Christmas Market

It is worth mentioning that Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is next to Milan Cathedral on the same plaza. The plaza is a very vibrant place with many tourists. We were there the day before Christmas. There were lots of shops on the streets next to the Cathedral.  It reminds me of the German Christmas market in downtown Chicago.

So what was sold at the Christmas market? Well, lots of salami, cheese, sweets, chocolates, and pastries. I further got to know Torrone, an ancient Italian candy made out of whipped egg whites.

The shop was open for Christmas day, and we ended up spending a big portion of Christmas day there, walking around and ate at a restaurant around the corner twice that day.  The second time is mainly to use their bathroom.

Milan family vacation how to
7. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
8. da Vinci “The Last Supper” painting
9. Sforzesco Castle
10. The skating rink in front of the Milano Centrale
11. Workshop following visiting “The Last Supper”
12. In front of Milan Central Station (Milano Centrale}

The Last Supper

Da Vinci’s famous painting “The Last Supper” resides in Santa Maria delle Grazie church. Buy the ticket from the official website in advance. There are limited visitors each day, so make sure you pay attention to when the website opens the reservation for your desired visiting days, usually 1.5 months prior, and book accordingly.

What is the Last Supper workshop about?

When you book “The Last Supper” ticket, there are many options. You can choose to buy the ticket itself or a guided tour with the potential of adding a workshop as an add-on. By the way, you can rent an audio guide at the ticket office, so a guided tour is completely optional.

I ended up booking a guided tour with the workshop. Regardless of whether you are with a guide or tour on your own, you only have 15 minutes to admire the famous painting. The workshop, which lasts about one hour, is very much like an art studio class using pastels. They pass out sheets with sketches already on them. You then use pastels to practice techniques such as contouring.

The Last Supper Workshop
The Last Supper Workshop

Milan Panettone

Italian Panettone is one of my favorites and I have developed my Panettone recipe just so that I can have a healthy & yummy Panettone anytime I want, LOL.

Little did I know that panettone, the iconic Italian Christmas bread cake is actually from Milan. Needless to say, I tried many panettones while we were in Italy. As a matter of fact, it was the staple breakfast item throughout our travel. Perfect to couple with my homemade Chai tea.

To my nice surprise, my Milan Panettone recipe is spot on for an Artisanal panettone flavor and taste. If you also like Panettone, make sure you check out my Panettone recipe.

Homemade Italian Panettone {Easy Yummy Healthy}
Milan Panettone Recipe

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