On January 4th this year, it was Ant’s 40th birthday so a couple of months ago I secretly booked a surprise trip for the two of us to Milan, the shopping capital of Italy! He’d been saying that he wanted us to go somewhere and I think he was also hoping for a fishing trip to France with his mates. I didn’t want to book another sunny, beach trip as I felt that a big birthday called for something better than that! For once, I was in a position financially that I could book more or less wherever I fancied and I wanted to go somewhere a bit more special than your average city trip.
So, I checked out a few hotels in Milan as well as a couple of other cities but I found myself returning to the ones in Milan. So I went with my gut and booked us 3 nights in the 4 star Hotel Milano Scala. The hotel is situated less than a 5 minute walk away from the famous Duomo, one of the largest cathedrals in Europe! The infamous big brand shops like Gucci and Prada are the same distance away too. On top of that, about a 10 minute walk away there is also Castle Sforza. The location had won me over, and that was before me checking out the hotel facilities which included a rooftop bar!
Ssshh! It’s a Surprise!
I decided not to tell Ant anything until a little bit before Christmas. I would have left it later but knowing what he’s like for wanting new clothes to go away with I knew he’d go shopping. I told him we were going somewhere, but he didn’t know where until we got to the airport! I revealed we were going away by ordering a personalised scratchcard from notonthehightstreet.co.uk which was great! The part you can see said ‘I’ve got a question to ask you… it’s really very important!’ Then under the bit he scratched off was the personalised part where I’d written ‘Can you get my suitcase down from the loft? We need to pack posh clothes for cold weather! Xxx’. He didn’t have a single clue and it was GREAT!
So after that he, of course, started questioning me. I was ready for it as he hates being surprised! Asking if we were going somewhere in England or abroad? Would we be driving or flying? Would he need to fill his car up with diesel? Even asked what handbag I was taking! Sneaky sneaky! I didn’t give in though, until New Years’ Day which was the day we needed to pack. As we were packing things like travel adaptors, and I needed the Euros (lol) he knew we were going somewhere in Europe.
On the 2nd January, we got up and got to the airport at 4:30am and when we got in to the bag drop area I told him we were going to Milan. Now, Ant really doesn’t smile much, but when he smiled then I knew he was over the moon! We grabbed a quick coffee from Starbucks and eventually flew to Milan Malpensa airport. I’d even arranged for a private executive transfer so we got to the hotel in a Mercedes! If you’re gonna do it, do it properly right!? The transfer took about an hour so we just spent the time talking about what there was to do in the city and taking in the views. There are some funky shaped buildings in Milan – I wish I’d taken some pictures of them now! Anyway, our car got to the city centre and the roads turned to a kind of cobble stone which was a bit strange but it definitely added to the feel of being in Italy, and eventually we pulled up outside the hotel and our eyes lit up as it was stunning.
During our trip, we ate at different places each time to make sure we made the most of our stay. I think we only visited the same coffee shop twice but that’s because it was Lavazza and I loved it! I made an effort to try some different foods, while Ant didn’t lol. I tried a tuna salad with walnuts, paprika risotto with smoked duck breast (which I didn’t like at all), and I had sea bream as well which was lovely.. We also had some lovely bottles of red wine out there too, that sounds terrible lol – we had one each night with dinner! Our fave red is Montepulciano D’Abruzzo. On Ant’s actual birthday, the concierge recommended a gorgeous little authentic Italian restaurant so we got her to book us a table. I just want to say here, the concierge was a lovely lady called Riva who honestly couldn’t be more helpful! We went to see her literally every day and she always had 15 minutes to spend with us, no matter where we wanted to go or what we wanted to see or eat. We had the most unbelievable T-bone steak there and it’s definitely on one of my top 10 meals of all time up to now! We also chose pate for starters which was really tasty too so I’m glad we chose that place!
As I mentioned earlier, one of the places on our ‘to visit’ list was the Duomo, a massive cathedral which is absolutely stunning from the inside, outside and even from the terraces! Neither of us are in the slightest bit religious but we were amazed at how beautiful it is. We bought the all access tickets which were €25 each. Although it may seem a little pricey I’d definitely recommend this ticket as not only do you beat the stupidly long queues out the front, you also get to see all of the Duomo, including the architectural part where you can really see the history behind it. There is also the option of whether you want to use the lift or the stairs to get up to the terraces. I basically had no choice as my leg wouldn’t allow me to use the stairs lol, thank god! I read a couple of reviews that said the stairs could be uneven in parts and it was the same stairs for going up as it is coming down so that wrote them off straight away for me. We also bought a Duomo guidebook too, one to keep as a souvenir along with all the other bits from the trip.
Another place we wanted to see while in Milan was Castle Sforza. It’s home to the last Michaelangelo sculpture, which isn’t necessarily our cup of tea but if there’s history to be learned about a building like this we want to know about it! The castle is very different to the likes of the ones I’ve visited in England like Hever Castle, the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace. It’s got a huge square courtyard with the castle building going around the edge, and there’s also a library within it with books dating back hundreds of years which was fascinating.
Lastly, I wanted to show you what the area itself looks like as it is so pretty and the city is definitely somewhere that I would recommend you visit! There are so many shops (obvs) and boutiques, coffee shops and bistros, and restaurants literally everywhere! We saw all the expected big name brand shops like Armani & Louis Vitton which we didn’t even bother going into lol, we saw the Swarovski Christmas tree which was absolutely beautiful. There were trams going all through the city, from swish new ones to really old looking wooden ones, they were a nice touch to add to the feel of the city.
So, there you have it! It’s been a really long post I know, but there was so much I wanted to share! I’d love to know if you’ve been to Milan or if you’re going I can try and recommend a couple of places! Thanks for reading!
Until next time, Steff x