Italy has always had a special place in my travel-obsessed heart as it was the first adventure I went on completely solo. This is why it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to this week’s Through The Eyes Of A Local interview, which is all about chic Milan…
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and where you come from?
Hi! My name is Margherita, I’m 34 and I’m from Milan, Italy! Here are some of the things I like (in no particular order) – cats, mountains, hiking, street food, sleeping, coffee, climbing, trains and running! Ah, did I say cats?
2. How long have you lived in Milan? And what brought you here?
I was born in Milan, and I lived there most of my life, save for about 8 years. I am now a full-time digital nomad, but I still return to my hometown for a month every 6 months or so.
3. What do you love most about your hometown?
Milan is often dismissed as a not very interesting place to visit – it’s certainly not as ‘pretty’ as many other Italian cities, but it has something that the picture-perfect city centers of Venice, Rome and Florence don’t have – diversity. The food and drink scene in Milan is second to none in Italy – you can find restaurants from all over the world, concerts, art exhibitions, shows, cultural initiatives… you name it. I think Milan is definitely the most interesting city in Italy, and it keeps getting better! We also have wonderful parks, like Parco Sempione, which is sometimes called ‘Milan’s Central Park’ – a wonderful place for picnics and to go running!
4. Is there anything that frustrates or annoys you when tourists visit Milan?
I can’t stand it when people don’t go beyond the city center and dismiss Milan as being ‘un-Italian’. How stereotypical is that? What the hell does that even mean? Do we all travel around in Ape cars and have a ‘nonna’ that makes pasta from scratch? Seriously? My grandmother is the worst cook in the world!
5. In your opinion, which places should be at the top of any visitor’s wishlist in Milan?
There are many interesting places to visit in Milan, but if I were to choose one, I’d recommend touring the Navigli area – it’s so cute and bohemian during the day, and it becomes a nightlife hotspot. Plus, I bet you didn’t know Milan has canals just like Venice! (Actually, no I didn’t know that! Anyone else?)
6. What Milanese food do you recommend?
I already said Milan’s food scene is really cool, and naturally that also means street food in Milan is amazing! Once again, the Navigli area is full of great street food, especially in summer when many food trucks visit the area. Milan’s signature dish is risotto alla milanese with saffron, and there’s a food truck that makes a street food version. It’s called ‘Biroccio’, check them out on Facebook!
7. What’s your favourite Italian word? Why? What does it mean?
That’s a really weird one to answer! Only rude words come to mind lol. A word I really like in Milanese dialect is scighera. It describes the thin fog that descends over Milan and surroundings in the autumn and winter. The Italian word for fog is nebbia, but I think scighera sounds a lot better!
8. What advice would you give to somebody moving to Milan?
If you are planning to move to Milan, my best advice is to choose your neighbourhood wisely! Most people think that central means better – in fact, I wouldn’t live in the city center, it’s quite boring. Some of my favourite places to live in Milan are Isola, Lambrate and Chinatown. If I could, I’d definitely live in Chinatown!
9. If you could describe Milan in just one sentence, what would you say?
I would say Milan can’t keep still. People from all over Italy have this idea that people from Milan are work obsessed. I don’t think it’s about work – I think Milan locals like to keep active. Whether it’s travelling, hobbies, sports… most people I know have lots of interests, and that reflects on the city!
10. If tourists were to know one thing about Italy’s culture, what should that be?
I’ll give you some practical advice here, hoping it helps. You can’t buy bus or train tickets from the driver, you need to buy them in advance from newsagents, tobacconists or ticket machines located in subway stations. Many visitors try to get tickets from drivers and when they refuse, they board the bus without a ticket (the driver won’t stop you by the way). Don’t do it! You’ll risk a fine! However, you can definitely rely on public transport in Milan. It’s really cheap and efficient, and the vintage trams are super cute!
Also, more culture related, most Milanese won’t start drinking until aperitivo time – that is about 6pm. So, by all means have wine with lunch, but if you want to head to a bar, you’ll find they won’t open until evening time.
Thanks Margherita! We’ve loved getting to know you and Milan better!
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