A weekend break in Milan with a toddler in the summer is mental. That is what I conclude. But if you happen to be there (husband was working there in the week, so too good to pass up a weekend away on air miles) then here you go!
Visiting the Duomo (the cathedral): The 4th largest cathedral in the world and the largest in Italy; this beast of a church took over 500 years to build. It’s definitely worth a visit. It is free to wander around (unless you want to go up top, which we decided not to) and great to listen to your toddler be totally shocked by the scale of the place. Creepy statues, giant pipe organs and loads of giant Gothic columns – this place has all the cathedralliness you could ever want. The crypt is free, don’t accidentally pay to go into the dull, one-roomed treasury which is right next to it that costs €2. Thankfully the ‘no shorts or bare shoulders’ rule does not apply to kids and the pram got around fine inside (apart from in the crypt, we just left it at the top of the stairs).
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – Nice building but unless you’re into Louise Vuitton, (which I had to look up to see how to spell, so obviously not the target market!) you’re not going to be able to shop here really. The restaurants inside don’t exactly appear toddler or wallet friendly apart from maybe the strangely misplaced McDonalds. Weasel refused to spin on the bull’s balls for good luck.
Actual Shopping Nearby? Craploads. I’m guessing people only come to Milan to do business, pass through to somewhere else or go shopping. For us mortals who cannot afford Gucci and Prada, there are giant shops like Zara/Mango/H&M/Benetton continently everywhere. The UCofB branch on the square of the Duomo was a treasure trove for both a summer dress for me (to try to escape the boiling heat by uncovering a bit more of me) and a great kids’ department in the basement (with functioning lift) with trendy, bright kids’ clothes to replace all the ones your kid has already covered in ice cream. July seems to be a month full of sales, so great bargains were to be had. Also good for forgotten sun hats and extra clothes for yourself because you’ve managed to soak yours in sweat by 10am every day.
Ice cream: In desperate need of some icy refreshment, we managed to find a great place about a 10 minute walk from the Duomo called Caffe Torino with an awesome selection of gelato, granita and snacks. There was even a loo sort of out the back door in the office block behind (this seems to be standard practice here) which although having no kiddie facilities and smelling of wee, as per usual, was large enough to do a nappy change in.
Need more food & drink to tide your toddler and you over until that exceptionally late dinner?: Stop by the most awesome little bar, Il Principe in piazza sant’allesandro (the little awning in the distance in the photo below), to get yourself a spritz al aperol and your kid a nice big glass of milk. No, it isn’t cheap, but check out that ginormous plate of food, plus some crisps just out of shot, that came free with it! That was practically dinner for the 3 of us. Sure beats a bowl of free bar peanuts any day and tided Weasel over until our 8pm dinner.
Fountains to cool down in: Jump in! There seem to be quite a few fountains to cool off in, including this one below we found only a few minutes walk from the main square. You will need to give you feet a break if you’ve been walking around in the heat, and Weasel loved having a little splash, even if she didn’t go in completely like we saw kids at some fountains doing.
Verdict: It’s too hot, there’s no concept of loos at most restaurants let alone baby changing and there appears to be little to do for kids. But hey, you can still have fun!