My arrival today in Milan, Italy was nothing short of the most exciting day of my life. While I have been fortunate enough to have traveled across much of North America, this is my first European expedition. Luckily, I was able to sleep for the majority of the almost 9 hour flight from JFK to Milan-Malpensa Airport. Fortunately, my normally crippling fear of flying was overcome by sheer excitement. I was awakened by a flight attendant just as we began our initial decent over the Alps, a moment that made this dream trip suddenly become all too real.
After breezing through customs and hopping in a cab, I arrived in the city around 9:30am local time. With 2.5 hours to spend before meeting with my host, Mario, I decided to enjoy a cup of espresso and a pastry at a local park. The first thing that struck me was the city’s transportation infrastructure. Small vehicles speeding everywhere, bicycles of all shapes and sizes, buses, and trains cover the city. To see it first hand was an extremely eye opening experience.
Initially, I had planned to use my first day to rest and recover from jet-lag. I quickly discovered that after three espressos and a powdered sugar covered pastry, there is no such thing as jet-lag. I was able to settle into my beautiful loft and immediately get out and explore the city.
With no other real plans for the day, I set out to obtain my passes to The Milan Expo, or Expo Milano as the locals say. This expo is the whole reason behind my 5 day stint in this beautiful city, but more on that later…
While the actual expo site is located a few kilometers north of town, the “Expo Gate” or main information center is located in the heart of the city. The 5 kilometer walk from my loft to the Expo Gate gave me ample time to take in the many sights and sounds Milan has to offer.
The first major landmark I stumbled upon was the Arco della Pace. The arch (seen below) was completed in the 19th century, but its roots can be traced back to the Gate of the Roman Walls of Milan.
This triumphant arch stood at the northern most point of Parco Sempione, a sprawling park I could only compare to the likes of Central Park in New York City. After walking around the beautiful grounds for a while, I found myself at the Sforza Castle, a structure first built in the 15th century for the Duke of Milan. The castle now plays home to many gardens and beautiful art, including Michelangelo’s last painting.
After finding the Expo Gate and obtaining my pass, I caught a glimpse of one of Milan’s most recognizable landmarks, the Duomo di Milano. After exploring the grounds of this awe-inspiring cathedral pictured below, I decided to rest my legs and enjoy a nice meal in its shadow.
After a delicious panini and a glass of Cabernet, my jet-lag finally began to set in. I rented a bicycle through Milan’s bike-share program and returned home both extremely enlightened and exhausted.
The next few days will be spent at the Milan Expo, an international exposition taking place over the next 4 months. The expo is meant to showcase 150 participating countries latest and greatest technologies surrounding the vital need to provide safe and sufficient food to the World’s population while also respecting the Planet.
Until next time, Ciao!