Sending out a huge Grazie to Michela in Milan for rounding out our wonderful set of activities by the moms from BabyccinoBlog. Michela kept telling us how UN-kid friendly Milan is, but she managed to come up with a fun array of activities for moms, babies, and young children.
We’re all in favor of mama getting a cappuccino break…I hope if I ever make it out to Italy with bambinos, she’ll show me the best spots in person.
Take it easy on Monday morning, as so many things are closed! Go to a nice bar and have the typical Italian breakfast: cappuccino and cornetto (the Italian croissant) and get a babyccino for your kids. To get the full experience you should have it quickly and while standing up, but that may not be ideal with children in tow.
Wherever you are you should not be too far from a stop of the 29/30 tram line: it’s a line that does a complete loop around Milan following the (now inexistent) Spanish walls. The trams in service on this line are very old, similar to San Francisco’s cable cars, and children love them! Wait until rush hour is over and board one, tickets are 1 euro and kids below 10 go free.
Get off in Corso Vercelli, one of the nicest shopping streets in Milan. Corso Vercelli, together with its continuation Via Belfiore and Via Marghera is probably one of the best places for shoes, kid’s shops and jewelery (together with everything else). Take a break and have a gelato at Grom, undoubtedly the best ice cream in the world! Reboard the tram and complete your tour.
Head to Leonardo da Vinci Science Museum, where the highlights are the models of the machines designed by Leonardo and a real submarine. The Toti is a war submarine, built in Italy in 1967 and is over 46 meters long. Its transportation to the Museum took place in the middle of august and during the night to minimise disruption. It was very spectacular! Tickets can be booked in advance or bought at the Museum entry.
Unfortunately the cafeteria is closed until further notice, so you can walk down Via San Vittore and have a sandwich in one of the many cafés or have a slice of pizza or focaccia from one of the bakeries.
After lunch have a stroll around the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio. It’s the quintessential Milanese church, very austere and elegant. Kids can run around in the porch if they still have some energy to burn off after the Museum visit.
Take Corso Genova, a nice shopping street, and walk towards the Navigli. These canals are what is left of the whole canal system that existed in Milan in the middle ages. The neighbourhood is very characteristic, a bit bohemian maybe. If it’s summer the streets along the canals will be pedestrianised and all the bars will have tables outside. You should have an aperitive, this is the ultimate Milanese habit. You get a drink and the bar provides so many snacks that you may as well skip dinner. Try to go early in the evening, so that it’s not too crowded.
Go (window) shopping in what is known as “fashion quadrilateral”. All the streets around Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga are lined with the boutiques of all the designers you can think of, Italians or not. You could have a quick stop for an espresso either in Cova or in Sant Ambroeus. Both patisseries are extremely posh, but an espresso or cappuccino taken at the counter will cost more or less like in any other bar. Then walk down Corso Vittorio Emanuele until Piazza Duomo. Get the elevator (or climb the stairs if you feel sporty) to the top of the Duomo. Here you can walk on the roof among hundreds of statues and all the spires; the tallest of them measures 109 meters. You also get a great view of the city, if it isn’t too cloudy.
You can have lunch on the 7th floor of la Rinascente, the best department store in Milan. They have nice restaurants, not too expensive and with a terrace that faces the big stained glass windows of the Duomo. As an alternative you can walk around the corner and have the best panzerotto in town from Luini; unfortunately there’s no seating, but they are yummy and quite inexpensive!
Take your kids to the Castello Sofrzesco, a true castle in the center of town! You can walk around the courtyard and then enter and visit some of the permanent galleries. Children may not be too interested on what’s on show, but they will love walking in the big corridors of the castle.
The castle borders the Sempione Park, one of the only two (decent sized) parks of Milan. Nothing compares to London parks, but your kids can run and play. There is a playground towards the other end (you can reach it in 10 minutes) and also an electric little train that children love to ride.
You can stop for lunch in Bar Bianco in the middle of the park; they serve sandwiches and a selection of warm dishes. If the weather is nice it is definitely a good choice. If it’s raining, head for the Triennale, where you can have lunch at the Design Café. The cafeteria was recently refurbished reopening in April and the mind behind the project is Carlo Cracco, one of Italy’s most well-known chefs.
Take the underground and go to Piazzale Loreto, then start walking down Corso Buenos Aires to get the Italian high street experience. Continue down Corso Venezia, an extremely elegant street bordered by luxury buildings. You will get to Giardini Pubblici — the other nice park in Milan. It hosts the Natural History Museum and the Planetarium. Together with playgrounds, merry-go-rounds and electric train you can also find a little coach with horses and ponies that children can ride. You can have a sandwich or coffee at Bar Bianco nearby.
Exit from Via Palestro, you will be facing the Villa Belgioioso Bonaparte (known as Villa Reale) and the Contemporary Art Museum. On the side of the main entry there is a gate that leads to a little garden where adults can enter only if in the company of a child. It is very small, but it is extremely well kept and if you have a crawling child you can let him free without fear of dog poo, cigarette butts and the like.