Our whirlwind stay in Milan began with two expensive taxi rides: the first took us no where near our hostel, the second was because we had given up with navigating the city. Milan, or Italian cities in general, have not been particularly back-packer friendly. There is a distinct lack of signage or directions and the locals, although friendly, have given vague and brief descriptions when asked for help. Nonetheless, we enjoyed Milan. It was much less touristy, and had more wide, open spaces than both Florence and Rome. The duomo was undeniably spectacular, set in the centre of a grand square, flanked by expensive shops and cafes.
We stayed at a crappy hostel which was overpriced. The atmosphere was unfriendly and the service was appalling. The hostel was called Sofia Hostel 2 and I recommend avoiding it, although to be honest, it’s difficult to find anything cheaper in Milan.
We made a few rookie mistakes. The first being that we didn’t research anything about Milan before going. Had we done so, we would have discovered a massive, worldwide festival called Expo which was being held in Milan this year. We kept seeing signs for it in the subway, on jars or Nutella, overhearing others talk about it. It was only once we left that we realised the importance of the festival, and there once simple google search would have kept us informed. Live and learn.
We used Blabla car to travel from Milan to Florence, which cost us 16 euro each (,ugh cheaper than a train.) neither of us had used the website before and we were apprehensive when waiting to meet our driver at the arranged point. Not because we are paranoid, but because Italian driving is not for the faint hearted, and we were trusting a stranger to get us there in one piece. However, we met the driver, Armando, who was a medicine student in Milan and couldn’t have been any more friendly and chatty. Granted, his driving was scary, and I spent most of the trip down to Florence with a continuous stream of sweat flowing from my palms. But, we lived to tell the tale.