It took me a while to decide on where to stay the first two nights of my trip. My first thought was to return to Verona, but I could not find an available hotel I was happy with. Staying somewhere on Lake Garda also crossed my mind however arriving on a holiday made me a little uneasy about the bus and ferry schedules that day. Spending my first day in Italy having difficulty with transportation options to arrive at my hotel was not high on my list. I also thought about Torino, but that was going in the wrong direction and would make both my arrival day as well as my travel day to Coccaglio for the weekend much longer.
I then started to think about staying right in Milan. Why not Milan? I have flown into Malpensa Airport (located right outside of Milan) four times before and have also flown out of Malpensa airport four times in the past yet I have never stayed right in Milan.
I have however taken a quick daytrip back in 2001 with Katia to Milan. We took the train in to see the Duomo (back when it was gray and gloomy) before the restoration began. We also climbed up onto the roof of the Duomo (which was very cool), stopped for a gelato in the famous Galleria, saw the outside of the Teatro alla Scala, and walked up and down some of the high fashion streets where we saw some sort of princess with a bunch of guards around her in one of the stores. I have also spent many hours at the Milano Centrale (main) train station in Milan and have taken one scary ride on the metro to get to the Cadorna train station to take that train straight to the airport (long story). Scary only because it was rush hour, packed with people as well as crazed fans going wild on the eve of the World Cup final right before they won the World Cup and I had no idea where I was going.
I am not sure why I have never thought about staying right in Milan before. I guess the big city thing kept me away. But after reading Michelle's blog post: "What to Do in Milan" and checked out her beautiful photos of Milan last December, I was inspired.
After shooting down Verona & Lake Garda, I started to give Milan some more thought. I have been wanting to see the Castello Sforzesco for a while now. Katia and I have talked about taking another daytrip into Milan to check it out.
I have also wanted to see the Duomo again now that it has been all spiffed up, especially since I only had a crappy camera the last time I visited the Duomo.
AND of course it would be very cool to see the Last Supper if only I would be lucky enough to snag a ticket.
So I started looking at reviews of hotels in Milan. Because I end up spending more time in my hotel room during the first two nights of my stay (jet lag) my criteria is always a little more stringent (no single tiny boxes and the bed needs to look very comfy). After checking out a few hotels, I came across Hotel Canada. I was able to get what I thought was a great deal and booked the room for two nights (made this reservation about a month ago/am just behind in sharing my plans). I can cancel my reservation up to a night or two before I arrive leaving me that reassurance that I can still change my mind but I am already pretty excited about staying in Milan. It is a 10 minute walk to the Duomo from my hotel and it sounds like there are a few good restaurants nearby.
I arrive early in the morning, giving me two full days to explore. From past experience, I know that I will be in a haze much of my time there since I will be dealing with jet lag and so I am going to keep my "to do" list to just the three things I mentioned earlier in this post.
Oh, and I did manage to snag a ticket to the Last Supper!! I kept my eye on the date the tickets for June would be released. I checked the ticket website about 9pm my time (8 am Italy time). No tickets yet. I got distracted doing other stuff and almost forgot to check again! I checked back again about an hour or so later and the tickets were released. The best time left was a mid-afternoon time on the second day I will be in Milan. There were only a few tickets left for one of the two dates I will be in Milan. I was able to reserve a ticket but the site would not take either of my credit cards. The website gives you 24 hours after reserving the ticket to purchase the ticket. I sent an email to Katia to see if she could purchase the ticket for me. Thankfully, she was able to sign in as me and pay for my ticket. My reserved ticket time may prove to be a challenge since I usually fade around that time of day during my first couple of days in Italy, but even if I have keep my eyes open with toothpicks, I will be there!
SO, Milan it is for my first two nights in Italy!
*Photos are courtesy of Wikimedia Commons ~ click on each for info on the source of each photo.