The region around Milan is considered one of the most important economic areas in Italy, if not Europe. Industries such as the automotive sector, the financial sector and, of course, the fashion world have brought prosperity and importance to the city.

A look at Italy’s traffic atlas underlines this impression. As an important commercial center and traffic hub, Milan is surrounded by a network of highways and suburbs. For most travelers from north-western Europe, Milan is probably the gateway to Italy.

Duomo di Milano

The city’s main attraction is probably the Duomo di Milano. Masses of tourists crowd in front of it, construction sites and security barriers block the view of the imposing building. The queue to get in is hundreds of meters long. We decide to skip it and head straight on to the world-famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade. Luxury brand after luxury brand is lined up here. In the city itself, we keep coming across strikingly fashionably dressed people. Is this the face of the city or merely the equalizing consumer capitalism of our society?

We only admire the Castello Sforzesco from the outside – on such a beautiful early summer’s day, the tourists are also crowded here. We look for a quiet spot in the neighboring park and find a well-trodden meadow near a group of young people. We don’t understand their Italian, but we can guess that their conversations are about the big issues: the future, love and their dreams.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

After half a day, Milan has made us tired. We stroll through the city for a while, looking for a café without touristy prices. At some point we give up the search and pay the price you pay in cities like Milan for two coffees, a scoop of ice cream and a cold beer.

As people pass by our table, we ask ourselves what a tourist has to do to really discover a city. Should he visit all the sights in his travel guide? Should he sit on a park bench for a day to people-watch? Or should he visit places that are not mentioned in the guidebook, places that seem authentic? In fact, are there any cities that you have to see?

One day in Milan is enough for us. It’s not our city. It is pretty, but we don’t recognize anything special about it. After thinking about it for a long time, we agree that it is the magic of a place that captivates every traveler or not. We decide for ourselves what is good for us and what we want to discover – not the travel book.

Exhausted and with the feeling that we have seen a lot but discovered nothing, we take the streetcar back to our campsite.

Info about our trip