Today’s blog comes from Tom Fenton, a Travel Expert from London, UK who, in October 2014, was picked to be one of 4 Emirates Insiders and sent to explore Milan!

I’d worked in our central London store for a year and a half when I was chosen to travel as an Emirates Insider to Milan. Despite traveling all over the world I’d never been to Northern Italy so when I got the call there was no way I was saying no. Plus I’m very photogenic (stop giggling).

We all know that if someone’s actually been to a destination and can recommend something then it can really help you get under the skin of the city and we tapped into our Facebook community to get their thoughts on Milan’s top sites. I loved reading the comments before jetting off to plan my adventure.

Nice pigeons

The first morning we up pretty early and they said “so how do you feel about getting covered in pigeons?”. When asked a question like that, you don’t think. You just do it.

After a quick coffee and a pastry (oh Italy) we headed to the Castello Sforzesco (only took 5 takes to say it right). It’s a really breathtaking building. You stand turning around and around in this huge courtyard and the architecture totally blows you away.

You can take a couple of hours at least just walking around and taking in the little nooks and crannies. It’s also in a really good area of the area of the city and there are lots of little parks and gardens around the back.

Como Como Como Como Como Chamele….sorry

Lake Como is so close to Milan and yet you wouldn’t know you were anywhere near the city. It’s actually the third largest lake in Italy (not just a pretty face you know) and the views from the boat were amazing even though the weather wasn’t what you would call spectacular.

As with most places, this section of the trip was absolutely made by the local people. The guy who owned the olive oil factory personally drove us around and gave us loads freebies (of oil obviously). I wouldn’t normally do shots of extra virgin but it was actually quite nice! Nothing like you’d get in a bottle here.

You really get an understanding of just how locally produced everything is. For example, the olive oil factory is a family business which has been supplying oil to some internationally known names (a certain school lunch-orientated chef for one…) and the first thing you see when you enter is a friendly man, labeling up bottles by hand.

Getting Cheesy

The cheese man was a friend of the olive man. No, this is not a nursery rhyme. This part of the trip wasn’t at all organized or planned – it just happened because people are nice!

He took us around the farm, showed us the cows that produced the milk and the whole process from start to finish. The day took a completely different direction from what we’d imagined but, as any of you who’ve been on a trip would probably agree with, that’s traveling. I did feel sort of like a high-end traveler, chowing down on my locally made cheese and oil on the train – the camera guys got all the free stuff though. Stupid carry-on luggage.

Aperitivo baby

It’s such a cool concept – you order a drink and a plate of food comes right out to you too. And lets face it, it makes sense to soak up the alcohol with a bit of sausage. The bars really put effort into it – they don’t care if you’re a tourist or a local. Here we were sat along the canal in the back streets but it’s not exactly hard to find and, even though  we went in the winter, it’s a really lively atmosphere.

Honestly, I’d never had many aspirations to go to Milan. But now I’ve been there and explored with your reccomendations I’m suggesting it to everyone! I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it and I’d go back myself. If you’ll send me? Emirates? Hello?

You can see Tom take on Milan and the rest of the lucky lucky Emirates insiders who explored Seoul, Brisbane and Dubai here

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