The San Siro, or officially the Giuseppe Meazza, is one of the most iconic football stadia in the world. When I heard they were planning to demolish it and build a new stadium I knew I had to get there soon to see a big game. Scanning the fixtures for the next few months I saw Juventus, the biggest club in Italy, were coming to Milan to play Internazionale (more commonly known as Inter Milan) in the ‘Derby D’Italia’. This was the game I had to see.
We had 3 days in Milan so as well as the football we had time for some sightseeing. Milan is the financial, fashion and commercial hub of Italy, the northern powerhouse. It is also one of the most expensive cities in Europe.
The most famous sight in Milan is the Duomo. Here you can, of course, view inside but also you can go on the roof of this impressive cathedral. The best time to visit is first thing in the morning avoiding the weekends as the queues and crowds get huge later on. Just off the same piazza is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II, the most famous and oldest shopping arcade in Italy. Here you will find all the top clothing and footwear brands as well as overpriced cafes and gelatos. Worth a photo stop but I would’t plan on buying anything there.
Milan is also home to Da Vinci’s Last Supper, housed in by the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Here viewings are strictly regulated and need to booked way in advance, possibly as part of a larger tour of Milan. We tried to reserve a spot 2 months before and they were all booked up for all 3 days. It is possible get a spot on the day if someone cancels but we did not have the time to waste as it is quite far out of the city centre.
We had a walk through the Parco Sempione, a large green area running from the Castello Sforzesco to Arco Della Pace. It was nice to get away from the crowds. We also visited the The Cimitero Monumentale, noted for the abundance of artistic tombs and monuments.
The place to go on a Saturday night is Navigli. This district of Milan is the triangle bounded by Milan Naviglio Grande and the Naviglio Pavese canals. It is one of Milan’s up and coming areas and currently the main nightlife spot, full of bars and cafes crammed next to the canals. Despite it being very busy there was a good atmosphere. We grabbed a gyro and drink at ‘Greek Fusion’ restaurant and people watched for a good hour.
As Sunday evening rolled around it was time for the main event, for me at least! Our hotel the Uptown Palace was in the South west of the centre of Milan and the easiest way to get to the San Siro was by taking the the number 16 tram direct to the stadium. The underground is also an option but this involves at least 2 changes from the centre. The tram took 45 minutes and as we approached the stadium I was amazed at it’s size and concrete brutalism. All around the ground are food and drink stalls to cater for the 80000 people, the stadium was at full capacity tonight! Italian football fans generally like to get into the ground earlier than their English counterparts so we could hear the atmosphere building over an hour before kick off. We went through the stringent security checks about 30 minutes before and enjoyed the opposing fans taunting each other. We were at the Corner of the ‘Curva Sud’ not far from where the 5000 Juventus fans were housed so could feel the tension. Traditionally in the Italy the Ultras (the hardcore of the support) are situated behind each goal.
The game itself was a decent match with the ‘Old Lady’ From Turin winning 2-1. The atmosphere was great and would have been even better if Inter could have got a win or even a draw. As is also tradition in Italy Juventus are the best team, some things never change!
Top Tips For Milan:
- For smaller games tickets can be purchased the day before at stalls around the city centre. For the derby against AC Milan or when playing clubs like Juventus, Lazio and Roma it is better to purchase in advance through the official website as these can potential sell out.
- Book tickets for viewing of the Last Supper as soon as they are released 3 months in advance.
- Visit the Duomo first thing in the morning on a weekday to avoid the huge crowds.
- Sample the nightlife of Navigli at the weekend. There is also a vintage market the last Sunday of each month