While most travellers to the northern Italian city of Milan stay in hotels and guest houses, camping in Milan actually makes for an inexpensive way to stay in the city, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Bustling city center in Milan.
Milan is one of the most important and the second biggest city in Italy. Located in the Lombardy province, Milan isn’t considered the most beautiful Italian city, but it is the centre for business, cultural, and fashion. It was founded over 2,000 years ago making it one of the oldest cities in Europe. The most famous monuments in the city including the Duamo, one of the largest Gothic Cathedrals in the world, the world class opera house La Scale, the Brera Art Gallery, and the Santa Maria alle Grazie Basilica which houses Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper painting and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Though there are a number of campsites to stay at, the best is the Citta di Milano . This four star campsite is located just a couple of kilometres from the centre of Milan, making it easily reached from the city. To get in and out of the city, guests can either hire a car, or take the shuttle buses which leave throughout the day.
The campsite has a range of pitches and permanent accommodation on offer to guests, all of which are surrounded by beautiful evergreen parkland. Though it’s possible to stay in the winter, it is of course, more recommended during the summer when the skies are clear and the days sunny and warm.
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If you are looking for a little luxury, try the newly built Ecosuites at the campsite. Looking more like a room in a luxury hotel, the minimalist suites are built from locally sourced wood and recycled materials making them sustainable. They are self sufficient, being powered by solar panels and the warmth being trapped in by the thermal materials being used. Nestled away in the corner of the campsite, those staying in the Ecosuites are treated to maximum privacy. There are three Ecosuites available, which range from 20 square metres to 30 square metres. They all feature a double bed and two foldaway beds (for four guests in total), a kitchenette, and private bathrooms with hot showers and towel warmers. They all have private terraces, but the two large suites have private swimming pools that boast hydro massages. Pure luxury.
Another option is the private bungalows, which though not quite as luxurious, are comfortable nonetheless. Each of the bungalows has two bedrooms with double or twin beds, a living space which also includes a double sofa bed, air conditioning in the summer and heaters (I really like these) in the winter, a private bathroom with hot showers, and a kitchenette. Like the Ecosuites, the private bungalows including clean blankets, sheets, towels, hot water, electricity, and gas throughout the stay. Each of the bungalows are surrounded by a little private garden with outside table and chairs. A lovely spot to sit during the summer. They also have several bungalows with shared bathrooms which are a little less expensive.
For those who don’t want to camp, but don’t want to fork out for a private bungalow or the Ecosuites, the site has rooms in wooden cabins with a double bed and a single foldaway bed. They are quite small at just 12 square metres, but they do have private bathrooms with a toilet and hot showers, air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter, and the rates include fresh blankets, sheets, fluffy towels, hot water, gas, and electricity.
Though you are welcome to bring your own tent and use one of the pitches, one of the most exciting places to stay is their own suspended tents. These specially designed tents are suspended between two trees using heavy duty buckles. They are big enough for three people, but two is recommended. Suspended above the ground, guests are offered the unique experience of sleeping in a hammock, but surrounded by a tent. They are comfortable waterproof and have insect nets which are particularly useful during the summer months. They are also breathable, so they stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If you want to stay in one of the suspended tents, you can either bring your own sleeping bag, or rent one from reception. They also sell the tents themselves at the site should you wish to take one away with you.
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Though they are not the real thing, the tents shaped like 60s style VW camper vans are a fun and unique place to stay. For a tent, they are high, just like the real iconic vehicles, and all but the very tall can stand up inside. Inside, there are two rooms which can sleep between three and four people, though if you want plenty of space, two is better. Alternatively, the campsite has almost 250 pitches for those who want to bring their own tents, motorhomes, or campsites. They have two toilet blocks, both of which have been renovated to a very high standard, and offer hot showers in the clean facilities. The campsite is accessible for disabled travellers. There are also laundry facilities available, as well as clean and renovated toilets.
There extensive price list would be impossible to list here, but adult prices per night start around US $13, and go up to around US $150 for a private air conditioned Ecosuite per night. There are extra fees for those who want to bring pets, trailers, or to use the electricity. During the summer months, all guests are eligible for a discounted ticket for the nearby waterpark. The perfect place to take kids who will be entertained for hours.
For a campsite, there is an extensive range of facilities available to guests. These include a picnic and barbecuing area, a grocery store selling everything you might need, basketball, volleyball and footballs courts, a small zoo of animals, ping pong tables, a camping shop, a playground and video games for kids, and a shuttle service to get into Milan. They also have a newly renovated sauna, which is particularly good during the winter.
While most campsites offer some kind of food or snacks, most are not particularly good. The restaurant at the Citta di Milano offers some delicious Italian cuisine throughout the day. Most dishes in the restaurant are prepared using locally sourced ingredients and include a wide range of meat and fish dishes. They pizzas here are particularly good, and you can get them to takeaway back to your bungalow should you wish. During breakfast, a good choice of pastries, fresh fruits, eggs, juice, cereals, and coffee are available. It gets surprisingly busy, so if you are in a group be sure to book a table in advance.
If you can drag yourself away from the beautiful surroundings of the campsite, there is much to see and do in Milan. While it’s not considered Italy’s most beautiful city, it has some fine world class museums, art galleries, shopping, and Northern Italian cuisine. Here’s our rundown of some of the best things to do in the city.
The Santa Maria delle Grazie church houses one of the world’s most important works of art, The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. It’s well worth going to see, as is the church itself. If you wish to see the piece of art, get there early as there is a limit to the number of people who can get tickets, and it’s rightfully popular. If you visit in the very high season, it may not even be possible to see it unless you have booked tickets weeks in advance.
If you like art, be sure to visit the Pinacoteca di Brera, a small gallery that houses some important works of art from Italian and international artists. Counted in the gallery include work by Rembrandt, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Mantegna. It’s located in one of the more beautiful districts in the city, which is also worth some exploration. Another option is to visit the La Scala Museum where you can get a look inside the famous opera house.
A must for travellers to Milan is a visit to the rooftop of the Duomo Cathedral. While most just visit the interior, which is beautiful, it’s worth taking the elevator to the rooftop to take in the amazing views over the city. Few tourists make it up to the spot, so you may be able to find a quiet corner to contemplate your Italian holiday and get up close to the impressive spires.
Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology is fascinating and easily one of our top picks for things to do in Milan. Housed in an old monastery, the museum chronicles the scientific work of the master and includes models of his inventions. It holds more than 15,000 objects, some of which were used by other scientists including Newton and Galileo.
Like the rest of Italy, the city is home to some mouth watering cuisine. Though the city has classics from all over the country, there are some dishes and snacks which are specially from the region. There is the famous cotoletta alla Milanese, the world famous dish of flattened veal covered in breadcrumbs and fried in butter. It’s as delicious as it sounds. Risotto alla Milanese is made from risotto rice cooked in stock with beef bone marrow, saffron, and white wine. It’s long been popular with locals and tourists alike. Commonly served with the risotto is osso buco, slowed cook beef on the bone where the rich, creamy marrow is eaten. A dish which has been around in the region for years is cassoeula. Proper nose to tail eating, the dish is made from the ears, feet and head of the pig cooked in cabbage. Most will have heard or eaten panettone, a soft of cross between bread and cake, much like brioche. The sweet bread is filled with nuts and dried fruits and is popular around Christmas. Before you eat, the Milanese way is to enjoy an aperitivo, a drink accompanied by little tapas style plates of cheeses, cured meats, olives, and freshly baked breads.
The best way to get to the campsite is to fly into Milan first. There are low cost flights from around Europe, including Ryanair and EasyJet which have daily departures from London Luton, London Stansted, and London Gatwick. When you reach the airport, the easiest way to get to the site is to hire a car from one of the international rental firms inside the terminal building. Alternatively, you can travel into the city centre by bus, and take one of the shuttle buses out to the campsite just a couple of kilometres away. If you want to have all the benefits of being close to one of the world’s most famous cities, but staying in the beautiful surroundings of the countryside, camping in Milan is your best option.