After a rainy 24 hours in Geneva, Joseph and I set off on a 4-hour train ride to Milan. We’d been traveling for over a week – from Colorado to Iceland to London to Switzerland – and we were tired. We’re introverted homebodies, and being out and about in foreign countries wears us out.

When we crossed the border into Italy, we suddenly got excited. We didn’t realize how much we’d been longing for familiarity until we got a taste of it. Our train pulled into the beautiful station in Milan that we’ve visited half a dozen times, and we suddenly felt totally at home. Everything changed, like a switch was hit. It was completely unexpected and completely wonderful. I no longer regretted the way I’d planned our trip, spending a week in Italian cities we’d been to before. This week was a refuge towards the end of an exhausting and exciting vacation.

On our first day in Milan, we went straight to the cathedral. It’s my favorite building in the world.

From there, we walked. We walked 13 miles that day. We visited old familiar spots and a couple new ones. Joseph picked up Italian again without missing a beat. I stood next to him and nodded as he had complete conversations and I had no idea what was happening.

I had a terrible, horrendous cold that day. I’d felt it coming on for three days, and it hit hard on this day. Because I’d given myself no time to rest, it was getting worse and worse. You’ll notice there aren’t many pictures of me – that’s because my nose was so red I didn’t want to be in any photos! I felt completely terrible. Except for the fact that we were in Milan. That made it bearable (even if I was dizzy all throughout the 13 miles!).

Our itinerary:

  • Milano Duomo
  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
  • La Scala Opera House
  • Pinacoteca di Brera
  • Sforza Castle
  • National Museum of Science and Technology, Leonardo da Vinci
  • Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio
  • San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore
  • Milano Duomo

Milan is an absolutely beautiful city. We only took the subway once this day, in the morning when we left the apartment. After that we just walked (and walked and walked and walked…). I never get over all the beautiful buildings in Milan!

Below are photos of Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio, another favorite church of mine. Something about it captures me, even on this trip, my fifth visit. When my parents, sister, and grandmother visited us in 2008, I took them on a tour of Italy, and this was a favorite stop for them as well. We saw a funeral procession leaving the building when we arrived, pallbearers carrying a casket through this courtyard. It caught us by surprise, and we stood to the side trying to be as respectful as possible.

Joseph has, of course, inserted himself into this memory. He wasn’t with us, but he swears he was.

We walked to San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, a cathedral I’d never before visited. It is really beautiful, the walls covered in immaculate paintings. In Europe it can be easy to tire of grand cathedrals, but this one was really striking and unusual. Everything you see here is painted – it’s not relief work.

And then what? Well, back to the Duomo. Because it really is my favorite place in the world, and it’s beautiful at night too! An appropriate way to begin and end a day in Milan.


We stayed at an AirBNB in Chinatown, which was absolutely great. Our first night there we grabbed some pizza, and on the second night we had one of our favorite cuisines in Italy: Chinese food! Seriously. It might seem strange to you, but Chinese food in Italy is delicious!


  1. Beautiful photos Alyssa! It sucks that you had a cold, but Milan looked incredible – I think I would have soldiered through it too for all the amazing sights.

    • Alyssa Reply

      Thank you Jessica! Not gonna lie, looking at the photos makes me feel a little bit ill. But it was still a wonderful time! If I had to be sick somewhere, I’m glad it was in Milan!

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