Even in her dormant months of winter, Milan proved to be just as rich in experience and beauty as ever. It was my first time in Northern Italy and even for what I call one of my ‘flash European trips’ (one done in a weekend span), I was able to soak up so much of what the city had to offer. I didn’t know what to expect with it also being my first time exploring Europe in a winter month, I brought my layers and my camera and walked non-stop for the two days I spent there. What I found was nothing short of magical.
Firstly, for a weekend trip I place heavy emphasis on budgeting appropriately for the time I’m going to be there – I’m all about saving money but not at the price of a unique experience. One of the reasons I would recommend visiting Europe in the wintertime is for the amazing deals in airfare during off-season. My round trip direct airfare went for $440, (it costs me more to fly home to California).
I also chose to go with a low priced AirBnb. A lot of websites will recommend staying in hostels for cost-effective traveling, but during the off season I was able to find a small apartment in central Milan for $47/night! The total cost ended up being only $20 more than the hostel options I explored where I would have shared the room with four or five other women. The apartment itself had everything I needed on top of it being centrally located. I would have chosen this place over a hotel even if I was staying an entire week. The owner of the place, beautiful Monica, was born in the apartment itself and told me that the entire building was built in the 1930’s. During WWII when Italy was being bombed, it was one of the only places that remained standing. I’m a big believer in there being a soul in not only every country, city or town you visit, but also in buildings themselves. I could feel the history and the character of the apartment with its rustic charm, I sat there on the couch with a tiny library of Italian books above me and imagined an Italy of the past. I imagined this time, what it must have been like during then and how it compared to where I was sitting at that moment. It was warm and old and cozy. Outside the rain poured and all the while the walls whispered to me secrets of the people who had lived there before; those who lived, loved, made love, cooked, all within those same walls.
The Milanese are the most stylish people I’ve ever seen. There are different fashion hubs of the world; i.e. New York, Paris etc. but this city was the winner by my standard. These people seemed to carry elegance and style in an effortless way. The city itself is very chic, a combination of old world charm with strong family values and a modernized urban flare. Old buildings marked with graffiti and the cobblestone streets are lined with bustling fashion outlets.
My favorite and most memorable part – Sunday morning.
I was completely immersed in the slow pace of the city, the simple and beautiful unfolding of a morning where families roamed, children and dogs played, all the while the smell of fireplaces filled the air around me.
Marotin was my cafe of choice for an espresso and croissant. As I sat upstairs on a balcony with my journal, I became an admirer of the scene below me. What began as a gentle hum of conversations when I arrived, steadily grew into a louder roar of Italian as the morning crept on.
I wrapped up my weekend in Italy in a state of gratitude and calm that I realized I really longed for. Living in New York City, you get used to the quick pace and a perpetual state of impatience as you get from home to work and from work to home every day.
I didn’t know how much I really needed to be somewhere calmer where simpler pleasures like playing with your dog and ordering a good pastry are life.
I would absolutely say to see Milan in wintertime. The crowds are far less dense, the prices more affordable, and a hot espresso is even better to enjoy when the cool winds rise.
Bellisima, Milan! What a wonderful weekend. Grazie!