I have to admit, I was a bit biased when I booked a cheap Ryanair connecting flight to Milan on my recent trip back to Europe. My past memories of Italy were spent eating authentic Napolitano pizza in the heart of Napoli, hiking in between the vineyards and villages of Cinque Terre, and figuring out what else we could really see in Pisa after taking that iconic leaning tower photo. (Tourist much?)
Not being a big fan of high fashion and shopping, my ideas of what I would truly enjoy in Milan were dwindling away. It was only until a lovely British girl that was staying in our same hostel told us to skip the basics and head to Milan's hidden gem: Porta Genova. (Also, check out that hostel we stayed at in Milan here.)
I might be lying, and Porta Genova might in fact not be a hidden gem. But in every online travel blog and Milan Pinterest board I scouted, this secluded area of Milan never came to the surface. In order, you are usually told to go to the Milan Cathedral, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and Teatro alla Scala (or anything else within the downtown area of Milan). We did, and in about three hours, we were already walking around on the hunt for gelatos to pass the time.
We remembered the vague directions that the hostel manager explained to us on how to get to Porta Genova, and then decided to head to the metro to give them a try. My travel partner Jillian and I were going to be in Milan for only 24 hours, and so getting a 24-hour metro pass to travel on the green and red lines in Milan was perfect for us (you needed both lines to get to Porta Genova).
In retrospect, the red line will take you to:
- Buenos Aires: A stop that has tons of great shops, restaurants and shopping. Supposedly, you can get some great pizza on this stop at Spontini!
- Centrale F.S.: This stop takes you to Milan Centrale train station, where we then took our train to Venice the following morning.
- Duomo: One of the main tourist stops in Milan, the Piazza Duomo is where you can find the Milan Cathedral, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and much more.
Tip: If you're getting hungry, be weary of this area before buying lunch/dinner close by the Cathedral and Galleria. Because it's such a large tourist destination, the restaurants within this area can get very expensive!
A Bigger Tip: Don't be a Cathedral rookie like us and let the street sellers put bird seed into your hands for the pigeons. We got aggressively charged 20 euro each - five seconds after. (Welcome to Europe you Americans, right?)
Next up is the Green line, where you'll find our favorite metro stop we were able to visit in the quick time we were in Milan: Stazion B Porta Genova. When we got off the metro, we both sighed in relief. The crazy crowds were gone. The busses, taxis and loud, stressful ambiance had diminished. Finally, we were enjoying the Italy I had met two years ago: one that was laid back, peaceful and absolutely stunning.
Porta Genova is a huge canal strip, filled with bars, restaurants and supposedly all of the main "nightlife" you'd find in the area. We did the most important thing we could do at the time: find the closest Spritz cocktail to start out Italian adventure the right way. I'd also highly recommend Ristorante Bellariva Milano (pictured below), which was one of my favorite seafood pastas during our short Eurotrip.
Check out a collection of some of my favorite moments from Milano below: