Skip the wait – buy a Duomo rooftop pass
Okay, so to get this pass you’ll still need to drop by the ticket building which could take up to 20 minutes of your time depending on whether the automated machines are running. But the real wait everyone dreads is outside the Duomo entrance, to actually get inside. It’s essentially a long, sun-drenched line up through security that’ll cut into your time exploring Milan.
My recommendation? When you buy your tickets, pick a rooftop combo pass. The price is the same as individually adding up the price of rooftop access with the cathedral itself (including the museum). Trust me – the rooftop is magnificent and worth every cent. Especially if you pay a few euros extra to fly up quickly via elevator.
Now here it is: the key to skipping the Duomo line is to go to the rooftop first. Less people buy a rooftop pass so the line is shorter, plus you’re in the shade. After exploring the rooftop, you’ll be taken directly by elevator down into the church itself, skipping the entrance lineup altogether. Later, when you exit the cathedral, you’ll be glad you’re not in that colossal, front entrance queue that you’d probably still be waiting in had you gone the common route!
Window Shop with the Milanese
After visiting the Duomo, turn to your right and you’ll see the long arcade of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping centre. This unique mall merits a stroll through it’s spacious buildings, united by a glass roof that fills the place with light.
The shopping is Milanese luxury so you’ll probably want to browse via the windows – however, don’t forget to stop at the symbol of the bull on the floor under the central dome. (You’ll probably find it by spotting tourists spinning on the spot). Legend has it that if you spin backwards three times with your heel on the bull’s testicles, you’ll get some luck – perhaps enough to return to Milan someday! Tradition suggests that the practice started as a taunt towards Turin, the city the bull represents. No one is sure – all that’s certain is it’s worth participating in this quick, Milanese dance.
Lunch or Snacktime? Visit Luini!
No matter what time of day you’re in the area, pass through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuale II to the restaurants on the north side. You’ll see touristy stops – and then you’ll see the line for Luini. Hop into it immediately. This Milanese institution continues to serve up authentic savory panzerotti as well as dessert versions. Any imaginable pizza flavor is available, as well as sweet combos like chocolate and ricotta cheese. The panzerotti are small and cheap enough that you can grab one as a snack, combine 2 or 3 for your lunch, or even pack them to eat later at your Airbnb. You’ll have to eat your panzerotti outside Luini on the street – and make all the tourists who were tricked into a sit-down restaurant feel extremely jealous.
Here’s a practical tip – when you see a McDonald’s in Milan (there’s one by the Gallery, for example), use the unlocked washrooms there and just grab yourself a bottle of water or even some cheap fries on your way out. You’ll get more value than a euro spent on entry to one of Italy’s many crappy, public WCs!
From the Duomo neighbourhood you can easily shop down the street to Sforza Castle. Learn more in the next post!