On my way back to Sardinia for the Christmas holidays I had a six-hour layover in Milan. Instead of losing the will to live at the airport, I decided to spend the afternoon wandering around (and eating out) in the city centre. Here’s what to do if you only have a few hours in Italy’s fashion capital.
Getting from Milan’s Linate airport to the city centre is incredibly easy: all you have to do is pay €3 return for a ticket for the 73 bus to San Babila, one of Milan’s main squares. After hearing a few rumours about tourists being robbed on the bus, I decided to leave my big suitcase at the airport’s luggage depot not to slow myself down and to avoid attracting attention. Leaving your luggage there costs €4.50 until 9 PM. That said, I had no problems on the bus, so maybe I was over-cautious.
San Babila is the last stop in bus 73’s route. You will get there in about half an hour without traffic. After getting off, I stopped for a brief meeting and tea at restaurant, pastry shop and café Sant’Ambreous in Corso Matteotti. In San Babila you will find all the major shops like Max Mara, Louis Vuitton and the like. Not being able to afford any of their clothes, I allowed myself some window shopping and some dreaming over the Christmas-themed windows.
I then treated myself with some more (sob) window shopping and a very real lunch at Eataly in San Babila’s Brian & Barry Building. The 12-storey building hosts homeware, gourmet food markets, street style clothes and amazing restaurants. La Piadina dei Fratelli Maioli teamed up with Eataly to create a wonderful street-style piadina restaurant inside what the Milanese call “Il Brian & Barry”. I went for a piadina, the typical northern-Italian wrap, with pancetta, sweet gorgonzola and made-in-store red pepper jam with a mango juice and a side of salad, all for €15.50.
You might notice how empty the restaurant is. That is not, by all means, because it isn’t good. It’s rather because of something you’ll have to get used to if you go to Italy: it’s not that common to eat “out of hours” – that is, not between 12 and 2PM and 7 and 9 PM, especially during business days. I really struggled to find any place that would give me more than panini (e.g. a main course) at 4 PM.
After my late lunch I rushed under the “portici” all the way to Piazza del Duomo to drink in the wonderful view of the square under the Christmas lights. All checked in, I was ready for another signature dish from Northern Italy: Milanese rice, or saffron rice with Parmesan cheese, from Linate airport’s Motta bar and restaurant (a bit pricey for €12, considering I can make it myself, but worth it). The perfect celebration for not wasting a day!Pictures: Carolina Are