London to Florence via Milan – Travel Tips for First Timers

When I visited Florence in July last year (2017), I utilized my air miles points.   My points were not valid for a flight straight to Florence but Milan was on the options.  Passing by at the famous fashion capital of Italy was a great opportunity for us to see  even just a small part of the city.

 

Malpensa Airport

The airport is pretty standard and organized like most airports.  We did not purchase our train tickets online prior to our trip , mainly because I was not sure about few things around purchasing the right tickets in advance for the right train and timetable.  We purchased our train tickets at the airport ticket offices for Centrale Milano station and it was straight forward.  The cost for each passenger was EUR 13.00  one way.  There are 2 train terminals at the airport; it is Terminal 1 for Central Milan.

 

The glass elevator (or lift) to Terminal 1

 

Train Tickets Validation

Different online resources have advised that train tickets should be validated just before boarding the train.  From personal experience, tickets purchased from the train station showing carriage and seat numbers do not need to be validated.   Only the tickets that are purchased in advance needs to be validated and should be used within 3 hours after the validation.  Below is one of the validating machines located at the train platforms.  Here’s more information on getting around Malpensa Airport.

 

Milano Centrale Train Station

The trip from Malpensa airport to Milano Centrale was about 45-50 minutes.  The journey was straightforward with few stops along the way.   The Milan Central station is big and the architecture of the whole building in and out is quite impressive.  This station is the busiest in Italy.

Milano Centrale building

 

Inside Milano Centrale train station 

 

Accommodations Near the Train Station

There are many hotels surrounding the central train station, from luxury hotels like the one below (rates from £300 – £450/night) to standard 3-stars boutique hotels (rates from £85 – £150).  At the time of our journey the hotel rates were higher because Coldplay had their concert in the city on that week.  Maybe it is practical to avoid travelling to Milan when there is a big event going on.

The Excelsior Hotel just outside the train station.  

 

Our accommodation was along this street of Via Napo Torriani.  The train station is visible from here, about 2 minutes walk or even less.  This street is just across the Piazza Duca d’Aosta infront of the train station.  This whole stretch is lined with boutique hotels left and right.  It’s an ideal place to stay for business travelers.  There are food places in this area and a corner shop nearby.

The Via Napo Torriani Street

 

Train Tickets for Florence

Tickets can be bought from any ticket kiosks inside the Centrale Milano train station.  I purchased ours from Italo.  The costs in July 2017 was EUR119.80 for two passengers one way.  The journey to Florence main train station was about two hours.   It was a pleasant journey and the train was comfortable.

 

Around lunchtime we safely arrived at the main train station of Florence, the Firenze Santa Maria Novella.  The station were packed with tourists from around the world.  I am happy I have had the opportunity to visit this beautiful  city of Florence.

 

Back to Milan from Florence

The train fare from Florence on Trenitalia was EUR55.00 per passenger.  We left Florence early in the morning so that we can explore Milan for few hours.   When we arrived back in Milano Centrale we put our luggage in a storage office downstairs at KiPoint.   For less than five hours it cost me EUR12.00  in total,  which I paid when we picked up our luggage.  It was no hassle, the people working there were quick and pleasant.

 

Milan Cathedral or Duomo Di Milano

From Milano Centrale it was a quick trip to Piazza del Duomo via Milan Metro trains.  The Metro tickets were EUR1.50 per passenger one-way.    We did not have enough time to explore the inside of the cathedral but it was nice to see the magnificent gothic architecture of the church facade.

 

The Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II

Named after the First King of the Kingdom of Italy, this shopping arcade is at the same area of the Duomo.  Built between 1865 and 1877, the interior architecture design and the high ceiling are very impressive.  Apart from the designers shops there are cafes and restaurants within the premises.  There is also a five-star chain hotel within this arcade, which is convenient for other travelers who come to Milan for a shopping spree.

 

A souvenir photo of my trip here. 

 

If you want to eat on a budget there are more places to eat outside this building.  At the back streets we had a quick bite from this Asian fast food place.   There were no seats inside but for a light lunch it was fine.  The food was good.

 

After eating we continued exploring the place surrounding the Duomo.  There are more shopping buildings in the area where shops are not as expensive as those at the Galleria Vittorio.  We did a light clothes shopping before we headed back to Central Milan train station.

When a good opportunity arises in the future, I would love to go back to Milan for a long weekend to explore and know and see a bit more about the city.  I would love to see Leonardo da Vinci’s original painting of the Last Supper currently kept at the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie.  I would also love to explore other tourist attractions such as the  Sforza Castle  and the The Royal Palace of Milan.

 

Back to Malpensa Airport

I booked an overnight stay at Malpensa Airport for our morning flight back to London on the following day.  We stayed at Crowne Plaza using my IHG membership for a discounted rate.  There was a hotel shuttle from the airport which cost me £12.00 for two passengers  one way.  The twin room was big enough, complete with tea and coffee and complimentary cookies.  The room and the bathroom were both clean, tidy and no foul smell anywhere.  Being away from the city, it was very quiet during the night.  We had a good night sleep.

 

 

 

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