As our trip was winding down, we had already concluded that Italy lived up to the hype and we had totally fallen in love with the country, its people, and the incredible food. When we were planning our trip, many people had told us that Milan was somewhat boring and not great for tourism. People told us that it’s the place to do business, but not really a great place to visit.
Shopping in Milan
With those low expectations in place, we planned to focus on shopping in Milan instead of visiting historic sights. When we arrived at the Hotel Principe Di Savoia, we asked the extremely helpful front desk agents where we could go shopping. Much to our surprise, she pulled out a detailed map of all the major Italian and luxury brands along Via Montenapoleone and Corso Venezia, which conveniently were within a 10 minute drive or 20 minute walk from the hotel.
With the map firmly in hand, we headed out to explore the shopping streets, and ovh my, did Milan ever deliver! Every store we went into had the most experienced, passionate, and witty sales people we’ve ever experienced. They knew their product inside-out and were truly passionate about how it’s made, why it’s designed the way it is, the most recent trends, and perhaps most importantly, they know exactly how to make you feel comfortable with lightening your wallet.
We ended up shopping until we ran out of credit card capacity, but it was totally worth it. The experience of shopping in Milan is like nowhere else. There is an easygoing mood to the salespeople that makes you feel so comfortable. Even someone like myself that hates shopping, loved the experience in Milan. It was like mixing the knowledge of a salesperson in Tokyo with the passion of an independent shop owner in New York.
We sent a number of thank you notes to the staff and were surprised to get replies right away from the salespeople with warm and genuine kindness. As an example, to transport all our new items home, we bought a Rimowa luggage and had it delivered to our hotel. Inside the luggage was the sweetest card from the salesperson wishing us a wonderful stay in Milan and she even included some local restaurant recommendations which turned out to be amazing.
Milan was our last stop on the trip so we took some time to think about what we might have planned differently if we had the chance to go back in time.
What we would do different
The trip was excellent and tons of fun but there are a few places where we felt we shortchanged ourselves and would have liked to spend more time. If given no time restrictions, we would obviously liked to have spent far more time in Italy, but given the same time restrictions, we would make the following changes:
- We would extend our stay in Florence by an additional night.
- We would trade that off by reducing Cinque Terre or Sorrento by one night.
- Alternatively, it may have been good to leave Florence for a second trip since it felt like we wanted to explore the city for more than a few days.
- We didn’t plan our stopover in Naples very well and ended up stopping for pizza without any time to explore the city; from what we were able to see, Naples has a really cool edgy vibe to it which we’ll target to explore in a future trip.
- In addition, we would not rent a car again starting from Rome; instead, we’d take the train around the country until we reached Sienna, rent a car to drive around Tuscany, and then return the car there before taking the train onwards.
Sometimes Italian fashion or design looks a bit outlandish in North America. A car like a Maserati Quattroporte doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense and looks a bit clumsy along an American highway. However, when you see that same car rolling down one of the beautiful historic streets in Milan, Florence or Rome, it all comes together and suits the environment perfectly. As a car nut, there is something so special about seeing a bright red Ferrari ripping along the hills of Tuscany.
I hope you’ve enjoyed coming along with us on our first trip to Italy, I hope it’s been of some use to you. Italy is amazing and we’ll be back again and again many times. There is no shopping experience like Milan, there is no scenery like Tuscany, and there is no feeling of content like ordering a Prosecco at 8:30AM without anyone batting an eye, in a historic castle!
Italy, we love you so much and we’ll be back again soon!