Man it’s a hot one, like seven inches from the midday sun. Santana’s guitar riff plays over and over in my head as we hop out of the air-conditioned bus and into Piazza del Duomo. We are about to head into the Duomo, Milan’s most recognizable historical landmark as the first official stop on Ciao Florence’s Milan Sightseeing guided tour. Armed with stylish radio transmitters that scream “tourist” without making the slightest sound, we flock to our guide’s little white flag. The guide for this tour, Marta, is as good as they come. She’s essentially a prototype- didactic, knowledgeable, capable of speaking at least three languages fluently, open and friendly. I’ve written radio transmitters, flag, and didactic in the last two sentences, so you might be wondering why I’m recommending an organized tour rather than a DIY-approach.
The answer is this: TIME. This tour is going to make the most of your time in Milan, in fact, if you take this particular tour, you’ll be able to hit five of the city’s most famous sights in only one morning: Castello Sforzesco, the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Teatro della Scala, and The Last Supper. I’m not even sure what the sixth could even be: an insider look inside the Prada flagship store? I am and I have been, a tourist on a schedule and unless you’re on a very extended vacation, your time is valuable. This tour is going to take the guilt out of forgoing the opera house in favor of a lingering lunch with risotto alla milanese, you won’t have to choose. Do the morning or the afternoon trip (I recommend morning if you’re visiting in the summer months) and you’ll still have a half-day to explore the city completely on your own or return to the Duomo to take advantage of your included admission to the museum.
TOUR NOTE: Castello Sforzesco is seen as a drive-by, you will have to return after the tour on foot if you would like to explore it up-close-and-personal.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes but don’t wear flip-flops or anything that makes a “flip-flop” noise. In Italy, those are only used exclusively for the beach and the pool.
- For women, opt for a flowy, below-the-knees cotton skirt that you can let down to enter church but also knot on the side if you want. Trust me, they are so much cooler and more versatile than wearing short shorts and you don’t have to worry about not being let into somewhere like the Duomo.
- Bring a pashmina or a light scarf. You can use it to cover your shoulders for churches, as a impromptu picnic blanket, or as an actual scarf when the air-conditioning is too high.
- Bring a water bottle. A lot of people on this tour were constantly asking for water or a place to buy water. At times, the schedule is pretty rigid and there are no places to buy water bottles without going off track.
- The only convenient bathroom stop here is at Teatro alla Scala and once you’ve left The Last Supper, plan accordingly.
- A packet of tissues and antibacterial wipes or gel. As mentioned in the article, you should be prepared for a variety of bathroom-related issues, including no toilet paper or soap.
For more information, or to book this tour, head over to: MILAN SIGHTSEEING TOUR: DUOMO, LA SCALA THEATRE AND DA VINCI'S LAST SUPPER. Tours are available in English, Italian, Spanish, French, and Portuguese and tickets start from 79 euros.