A minute for Milan

Katie Gallagher

Duomo Milan

While Milan may not be top on your list of where to go or what to see in Italy, there is a lot to be said for this underrated city that holds the history and culture of the country, fused with an added sophistication and modern touch unlike anywhere else in Italy.

Milan, the up and coming metropolitan city of Northern Italy was the abode of 23 aspiring journalists after the Christmas exams, all seeking to relish the last few days of freedom before the final stretch of the college year commenced.

The captivating city is the global capital of fashion, design and architecture and home to the national stock exchange, acting both as the fashion and financial hub known for its high-end restaurants and shops.

So, this begs the argument of why a group of presumably broke students chose one of the most expensive cities in Europe to visit? Well, simply because we wanted to, and life is what you make of it, no matter where you go. Stop limiting the search.

The trick is to be prepared, do your research and to be smart with your money. If you want to eat at the pretty but extortionate priced cafes next door to Prada, go for it. Power to you, but if, like us, you are ballin’ on a budget, find the alternative options and roll with whatever budget you are working off.

Day adventures

As with most cities, there is the option to avail of some freebies to save you splashing the cash during the day, especially as a student so take these opportunities as much as possible. Most museums have a student rate or in many cases students go free so locate the best options for you and spend a few hours learning about the city itself.

Italy is rich in historical culture blended with a modern art vibe so there are countless amounts of museums and exhibits to see when out and about during the day. Try and get a full taste of the metropolis city and check out some of the classics, such as the Leonardo Da Vinci museum . However, to add that touch of glamour and designer dish to the fashion capital adventure head out to Fondazione Prada, the luxurious museum dedicated to contemporary art and culture. Keep an open mind, this is quite abstract and therefore not for everyone but when in Milan, why not tick it off the list.

One must do on any trip, especially a short three day stop, is a walking tour. Let’s face it, Milan is a huge city with beautiful landscapes everywhere, you are not going to see all of it comfortably in that time frame. Sign up to a walking tour and get a quick look of the main parts, including the beautiful Duomo cathedral and the extravagant Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s oldest shopping mall.

Not only does this give you an idea of where everything is, and perhaps what you should go back to spend more time at later, as most guides are local you also get a sense of the city from a locals point of view and see some of the secret spots worth seeing.

Carb fest

Eating in Italy is the dream. Pizza, pasta, bread, wine, what more could you ask for? And while pizza isn’t the local cuisine of the city, it’s a firm tourist favourite so you can find it almost on every corner. Now, here is where the real budget kicks in. In this luxurious region, a glass of water can set you back €5, so research and choose wisely. This doesn’t mean resorting to McDonalds everyday either; you are in Italy, eat like an Italian.

In the average restaurant pizza and pasta dishes are pretty reasonable, typically setting you back between €8-€12, however drinks are a different story. Depending on where you go, a coke can cost the same amount as a glass of wine or a beer, while spirits start up in the double figures. However, as stated before, it’s what you make it and thankfully Milan do one of the best ‘Happy Hour’ deals you’ll come across.

‘Aperitivo’, or what we would consider happy hour, is a saving grace for students or anyone travelling on a budget but also looking to embrace Milan life. This is a customary event in many restaurants in Milan, where you pay around €10 for an all you can eat buffet, and possibly the biggest seller, a free drink of your choice. So, take this opportunity to order the most expensive cocktail on menu and enjoy your Italian feast without breaking the bank.

Nights on the town

Finally, finish each night in style.

Nothing in life is free, but very few things in Milan are cheap so again, research, research, research. Don’t get caught paying upwards of €20 at the door of a club when you can pay €10 including a free drink in the club next door.

Just like Dublin, Milan nightclubs have specific student nights so go wherever the deal is on and get the most bang from your buck while guaranteeing a good crowd too. Check out clubs like Hollywood, who hold international student nights.  Not only is this a fun way to meet other students abroad, it’s a fun bar with crazy bartenders who will fill you with any alcohol they have in their hand while you are waiting on your drink to be made.  Plus it’s pretty expensive on a regular night so embrace it while you can as a student.

Katie Gallagher

Image credit: Katie Gallagher

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