The Aperitif Started in this Italian City and has Made It’s Way Around the World

Now, you can find happy hours almost anywhere here.

Photo by Daryan Shamkhali on Unsplash

The train ride to Milan was a long one. It was the middle of the night and I had not slept. The 13-hour trip seemed to take forever.

Yet, there are definitely worse places to not be able to sleep on a train that rode from Vienna to Milan. There are gobs of natural beauty and long vistas for the majority of the ride.

One of the sweetest train journeys between major cities across Europe.

A little more about Milan. . .

Milan is Italy’s second-largest city behind Rome. There are 1.3 million people within city limits. But that pales in comparison to the 5.6 million in the metropolitan area.

In other words, Milan can get quite hectic.

The only train I rode through the city center was packed like sardines. It is the fourth largest city in the European Union.

Milan is the industrial and financial center of Italy. It’s also a major world fashion and design capital. Known for several events such as Milan Fashion Week and Milan Furniture Fair.

It’s also a very popular student city; hosting 11% of all Italy’s university students.

Its attractions pull in over 10 million tourists a year. With world-renowned cathedrals, theaters, and landmarks, there’s not much guessing why.

Also, for football fanatics, Milan is also home to two of Europe’s major football (soccer) teams. AC Milan and FC Internazionale.

First impressions. . .

I was already able to pick up on basic Italian as soon as I arrived in Italy. By eavesdropping on conversations, I recognized Spanish similarities.

I met my friend at the main Milan Station around 6pm. We made the long journey out of the heart of the city to his place.

Milan during rush hour is the definition of a city I could never live in. My life would be miserable commuting in a place like that every day. The metro was a sardine can for a solid hour at least.

Night trip to Como

Once we finally reached his place, we took a quick breather while deciding on a plan for the night. On a whim, we decided to head straight for Como. Which is not exactly a trip down the street.

We were going to hitchhike. But as it was almost sundown, most workers had already made the commute from Milan. Plus, there was rain in the forecast so we thought it’d be better if we took the train.

The train from Milan to Como is $10 round trip and takes about an hour each way.

Photo by Fabio Fistarol on Unsplash

Cheap wine, sneaking through metro and intercity train gates, and hiding from train attendants in the bathroom. All reasons why I love adventures with my friend, Dunco. He is a friend who is always down to do anything adventurous and save a few bucks — we are similar that way.

Como is as beautiful by night as it is in the daylight. It’s a secluded city inside rolling hills with a beautiful lake, Lake Como, as its centerpiece.

The hike to the cathedral at the top was much more strenuous than I was anticipating. Especially late at night, in the rain, with all my luggage with me.

We were in the middle of the mountains, it was bound to storm the whole night, and it was 2 o’clock in the morning. We had no shelter or a plan for sleeping. Yet, we heard the overnight hike was worth it.

We never even cared to talk about a backup plan. It was one of those nights that you do something to do it and you don’t ask questions or think about it. I loved that feeling.

We made it to the top and slept on the steps of a church we found at the peak. We were partially sheltered from the ensuing storm. It was still a wet and cold night.

I slept enough. Dunco was up at sunrise ready to take in the view and make our way back down the mountain. This guy is crazy.

I would’ve liked to stroll through Como town, but Dunco seemed on a mission to get back to Milan.

Photo by Bethany on Unsplash

Attractions in Como, Italy. . .

  • Villa Olmo
  • Tempio Voltiano — Lighthouse, museum
  • Basilica of Sant’Abbondio
  • Como Cathedral
  • Castello Baradello — Castle

Sforza Castle

When we arrived back in Milan, we headed for the Sforza Castle which was more like the size of a fortress. A much-underrated part of Milan.

We lounged around at the park next door to Sforza and did some people watching. It was a chilly spring day in the sunshine. There were plenty of people still out and about doing an assortment of things at the park.


As soon as we left Sforza we popped on over to the world-famous Duomo; the Milan Cathedral. What is there to say about this thing that captures its magnificence? There are no words.

The amount of time I spent thinking about the detail that went into it as I stood in front of it says more than I could.

Photo by Alex Vasey on Unsplash

Pigeons wizzed past my face. Scared the hell out of me. Dunco was all but rolling on the ground of Duomo Square laughing. Being there was a moment forever etched in my European memory bank.

The Duomo is the cathedral you see when you envision European cathedrals.


We walked around the outdoor marketplace of Duomo Square. At peak weekend hours.

Don’t. Do. This.

Although, it was quite an experience. Mostly tourist gimmicks — but an experience nonetheless. Vendors were as plentiful as the visitors purchasing from them. They were selling anything from souvenir flags to Chinese yo-yo’s, to fresh produce.


Being a large economic hub, Milan is very multi-national. Around the city wherever you go, you notice people of different ethnicities. That’s somewhat uncommon in many European cities. But not Milan.

Plus, you hear a lot of languages including what I thought was the best English-speaking city in Italy.

High fashion

You could definitely see the presence of high fashion near Duomo. Fancy clothing stores I dared not go into. Advertisements displaying posh wardrobes flooded the alleyways.

Even people dressed to the nines. Those fashionistas aren’t only for the magazine photos.

Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

Other attractions, restaurants, and bars. . .

For beer and wine, it’s just better to stick to the markets as alcohol in Milan is very expensive.

  • Teatro alla Scala — Grand opera house for Italian classics
  • Brera — art galleries, botanical gardens, shopping, nightlife
  • San Siro Stadium — 86,000 seat capacity stadium for AC Milan
  • Santa Maria delle Grazie — church with Da Vinci’s The Last Supper on display
  • Spontini — for the cheapest authentic Italian pizza near Duomo

Milan impressed me for the little time I was there. As I mentioned, it is too busy for me. I don’t see myself going back any time soon despite my positive impression.

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