Day Trips from Milan

Kinsey Drake
September 19, 2016

Milan, on top of being a dynamic and exciting on its own, is perfectly situated for any variety of day trips. Picturesque towns and cities—both well-known ones and hidden gems (say that in your Rick Steves’ Voice)—are only a few hours from Milan’s main train stations. Even on the slower (read: student-budget friendly) “regionale veloce” trains, you can still fit in a full day’s worth of travel. So far, I’ve been to Parma, Bologna, Ferrara, and Florence, and I have my eye on Bergamo, Turin, Modena, and Genova.

(Curious about more of these towns? Check out all of their features in the New York Times “36 Hours” travel column, because nothing screams East-Coast-liberal journalism like Euro-centric travel reporting.)

If you plan carefully, you can take a trip that is economical and full of fun sites and activities. I’m not yet a complete expert on traveling around Italy, but I hope that for those of you who are studying abroad in the future, that my tips below will help you make the most of your semester:

1.     Research and buy train tickets ahead of time: Trenitalia is the most widespread company for train travel around Italy, and they have lots of different options. The “regionale veloce” line is slower and cheaper, which will make a 2-hour train ride about 10-15 euros. The “frecciarossia” trains will get you to your destination much faster, but you’ll definitely pay more for that advantage.

2.     Bring a small group of friends: Friends make traveling safer, and it’s so much fun to share the experience with them! Just remember: the larger the group, the harder it is to get into restaurants or find seats together on the train.

3.     Pick a very unique meeting spot at the train: As my friends and I have found, Milano Centrale is a huge train station. Rather than say “meet where you buy your tickets,” choose a specific location like “the coffee bar at the Feltrinelli’s” so you won’t get separated.

4.     Get lost wandering around the city: In Parma, we found a road race sponsored by the makers of Prosciutto di Parma, three beautiful churches, and a fantastic cheese shop. In Ferrara, we went into some very tiny dungeons and found a balloon festival. You never know what you might find! Just take it all in and spend hours wandering around the city center.

5.     Get away from touristy areas: Sure, you’ll want to see some of the sights, but when it comes to finding real gems, the side streets and hidden neighborhoods are the best ways to find memorable shops. While in Bologna, my friend took us to a vintage shop that was featured in the 36 Hours Bologna Video (again, thanks New York Times but don’t forget to write about other continents!) and was a little off the beaten path from the main square.

6.     Make one of your meals a picnic: Find a nice grocery store or market, and grab a picnic meal with your friends. A bounty of bread, cheese, olives, cured meats, and fruit will usually only cost 5 euros each. Finish the meal with a gelato cone and you have a fantastic and wallet-friendly meal.

7.     Pack a lightweight scarf in your bag: Churches in Italy require that your knees and shoulders be covered upon entry, and the summer and fall months might be very hot. Rather than cover yourself from head to toe all day, pack a lightweight cotton scarf to cover your arms or legs right before entering the church.

8.     Bring a water bottle: Water costs more at restaurants and Italians are less likely to drink water throughout the day. That being said, most towns have water spigots with potable water that you can use to fill up your water bottle.

9.     Bring back something small to remember the city: A few postcards, a food specific to the region, or a piece of clothing are great ways to remember the experience. At the very least, don’t forget to take lots of pictures of you and your friends!

Kinsey Drake

<p>Kinsey is a Biochemistry major and Italian minor from Tufts University near Boston, MA studying in Milan for Fall 2016. Everything she does is to learn more about food; catch her studying cheese microbes by day and reading cookbooks by night. She caught the travel bug the minute she tasted her first crepe in Paris way back in 2006, and hasn&#39;t looked back since.</p>

Destination:
Term:
2016 Fall
Home university:
Tufts University
Major:
Biological Chemistry
Explore Blogs