Originally from Portarlington, Co Laois, Carol Carmody set off to explore the world after graduating from UCC in the mid-1980s. Her first stop was Milan in the north of Italy. She has “been here happily ever since” and runs a small business providing language services – English training, interpreting and translation – to professionals working in law and business.
Where is the first place you bring people to when they visit Milan?
We usually start with the cathedral and admire its Gothic magnificence from the outside, or take the lift to the roof to get a great view while stepping between the gargoyles. Nearby is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, built in 1867, its impressive glass-vaulted arcades today housing some of the top names in Italian fashion, which connects to Piazza della Scala and the world-famous opera house. From there we head to Brera, the artistic heart of the city, with its atmospheric cobbled streets, quirky shops and trendy bars and restaurants.
The top three things to do there, that don’t cost money, are…
Entrance to museums is free on the first Sunday of the month, and Milan has some outstanding ones. A favourite is the recently revamped Pinacoteca di Brera, with its classy new top-floor cafe.
A great time to visit is during Design Week (April 8th – 14th), when the city is buzzing with creativity, outdoor installations, walk-in events and exhibitions where international designers and architects present what’s new and trending in locations all over the city.
We’ll often take a stroll along the Navigli, the city’s canals that fascinated Leonardo da Vinci, browse the shops and relax at one of the many outdoor cafes and bars. Vintage and antiques lovers flock to the Naviglio Grande on the last Sunday of the month to hunt for bargains among the nearly 400 stalls stretching along the water’s edge.
Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Milan?
You can enjoy typical Lombard cuisine in sober and elegant surroundings at Trattoria della Pesa, Viale Pasubio 10, one of the oldest restaurants in the city, having opened its doors back in 1880. Or go for up-to-the-minute Eataly, in Piazza Venticinque Aprile, which offers everything from crunchy pizza to haute cuisine under one roof.
Where is the best place to get a sense of Milan’s place in history?
Sforzesco Castle, built in the 15th century as a fortress by the Duke of Milan, is a peaceful downtown oasis in an often frenetic city. You can immerse yourself in the many museums housed here, or walk through to the leafy Sempione Park.
What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Milan?
Don’t leave the capital of cool without some trendy fashion items and superbly crafted, soft-as-butter leather goods. Try Pellini in Corso Magenta for original accessories, practically next door to Bardelli, the go-to store for the impeccably-dressed man about town. Enjoy a well-deserved cappuccino and brioche nearby at Pasticceria Marchesi, one of the city’s oldest pastry shops, which still preserves its early 20th century décor.
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