Travelling in low or shoulder seasons can yield great savings in money and time. Often the flip side of low-season travel is coping with less than ideal weather. But weather should not significantly affect enjoyment of attractions in urban settings, and cost savings can be hard to pass up. A trip to Milan, Italy in early November is an example.
Cost of the direct flights between New York and Milan was an incredible deal. The main cabin economy round-trip airfare on American Airlines was $319.43! If that wasn’t enough of a no brainer, when I bought the ticket in June, I was able to use American Airlines Systemwide Upgrades to reserve a business-class seat for both flights. That is rare. Systemwide Upgrades normally clear at the gate, if at all.
Here are photos from a self-guided tour of some of the sights in central Milan, Italy.
Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral)
The Duomo, as its referred to, is situated in the center of the city. Milan’s streets and avenues radiate from its location. It is easy to get to the Duomo via the metro. The M3 line stops at Piazza del Duomo.
It is best to purchase tickets online or as part of a tour. Even in low season, lines at the ticket office can be long. Take a number when you enter to establish your place in line and determine if the wait is worth it. The ticket office is located in a building at the rear of the cathedral on the right side as you face the front.
Even after buying a ticket, you might still need to wait in line to get into the Duomo. Some tickets allow skipping the line. There are a zillion ticket options. Prices range from three Euros for unguided entry to the interior of the Duomo to nearly 80 Euro for guided, skip-the-line access to all areas of the Duomo and other nearby sights like La Scala and the Last Supper mural.
Since there were few tourists when I arrived on a cold, drizzly morning, a skip-the-line ticket was unnecessary. I bought a ticket for access to the Duomo interior, roof (via stairs), archaeological area, and museum for 13 Euro.
It takes only a few minutes to climb the 250 steps to the roof. The views of Milan and architectural features like ornate flying buttresses that are difficult or impossible to see and appreciate from the ground are worth the climb.
Wandering around on the roof, I almost expected to run into Quasimodo who might be looking for a new home while Notre Dame is undergoing repairs.
The Duomo interior is impressive. Duomo construction began in 1386 and was not completed until 1965. Some say the cathedral remains uncompleted. Construction is brick faced with marble. The duration of construction with input from more than 100 architects and engineers resulted in the cathedral being built in several different architectural styles.
The plan consists of a nave with four side aisles, crossed by a transept and then followed by choir and apse. The height of the nave is about 45 metres. The Duomo di Milano is the fifth largest church in the world and the largest in Italy (St. Peter’s being in the state of Vatican City).
The cathedral’s naves are reflected in the openings of the façade. The transepts also have aisles. The nave columns are 24.5 metres high, and the apsidal windows are 21 meters by 8.5 metres.
My ticket included access to the archeological site under the Duomo.
After the Duomo I walked to the famed La Scala Opera House. It is located on the opposite side of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II from the Duomo.
The Galleria is an arcade-style shopping mall featuring many luxury retailers and high-end restaurants.
Museo Teatro alla Scala (La Scala)
After exiting the Galleria, La Scala comes into view on the other side of a small park, the Piazza della Scala.
The opera house was closed; however, the La Scala Museum was open. The museum is open from 09:00 to 17:53 daily except major holidays. The museum is accessed from the theater foyer.
From the foyer you can step into some of the boxes overlooking the stage.
The museum contains a collection of paintings, drafts, statues, musical instruments, costumes, and other documents regarding the history La Scala and opera.
As with most museums, you can pick up some souvenirs in a gift shop before exiting.
The incredibly low cost of the flight to Milan was too good to pass up. Even though the weather was wet and cold for five days in a row, enjoyment of the spectacular cultural and religious monuments was unaffected. And lucky for me, the day I visited Lake Como was actually sunny and warm. That report follows.
Do you take advantage of low season travel? What destinations are most appropriate for travel in low season?