Italy 2013: Ciao Milano!

And so our Italian adventure began.

"Aboard the Malpensa Express from the MXP airport to Milan City Center"

Aboard the Malpensa Express

We had been excitedly anticipating this unique travel opportunity, and now we were aboard the Malpensa Express from Milan’s Malpensa Airport, the best and least expensive way to get to the Milan’s city center. Although our flight arrived early in the morning and I had a touch of jet lag, you can see that I was very happy to be in Italy.

"Train in Milano Stazione Centrale"

Milano Stazione Centrale

We arrived at Milan’s Stazione Centrale, ready to make our way through Italy’s second largest railway station, both in size and traffic. Opened in 1931, it was designed by architect Ulisse Stacchini in 1912, but construction was slow due to World War I and poor economic conditions. Enhancements to the platform design and the addition of the steel canopies were later made by Alberto Fava as Benito Mussolini wanted the station to be symbolic of the strength and power of the fascist regime.

"Canopy designed by Alberto Fava at Milano Stazione Centrale"

Canopy designed by Alberto Fava at Milano Stazione Centrale

The architectural detail of the station is quite beautiful. We were eager to get to our hotel, so we didn’t stop for all of the photo opportunities along the way. I wish that we had, but hope these photos capture some of the station’s ambiance.

"Along the busy corridors of Canopy designed by Alberto Fava at Milano Stazione Centrale"

Milano Stazione Centrale

"Canopy designed by Alberto Fava at Milano Stazione Centrale"

Milano Stazione Centrale

We also decided to purchase our tickets for our trip to Bologna two days later and a valuable lesson was learned. With only a few Italian words and phrases in my vocabulary and feeling tired, it was a bit of a challenge dealing with the ticketing representative who indicated that his English was about on the same level as my Italian. Looking over the counter at the small type on his computer screen to confirm our tickets, we felt it all looked good and we left the station for the Four Seasons Hotel Milano.

Two hours later, we were back at the station after I realized that our tickets were printed for the wrong day. In fact, they were valid for that very day for a train now already departed — meaning that our ticket cost was lost (if you miss your scheduled train, the ticket is voided with no refund). But the story has a happy ending, because the customer service people were extremely helpful when we returned and explained what had happened. They gave us full credit and reticketed us for the proper train. Tip: Look at the ticket information very, very carefully before it is printed. Check date, time, destination, etc. Don’t assume anything, especially when there’s a language issue because you will most likely forfeit the cost of the ticket and have to repurchase; you may also miss your train!

That was the beginning of our diverse, nearly three week stay in Italy. Stay tuned for much more about it all.

This is our contribution to Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox

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29 thoughts on “Italy 2013: Ciao Milano!

    1. Cathy Post author

      Those are the kinds of things that just happen along the way — always nice when they get straightened out easily enough. 🙂

    1. Cathy Post author

      I was just glad that I saw the error before we were actually on a train a few days later without a valid ticket.

  1. Jackie Smith

    We love that station! When we arrived in Milan last year, everyone was on strike so we had to resort to private transfer (which was in itself interesting) but missed riding the Malpensa Express. We did buy tickets at the station for our trip to Bologna – didn’t have quite the exciting experience you did – glad everything worked out well for you. Eager to follow along on your trip~

    1. Cathy Post author

      The private transfer must have been quite expensive from what I was seeing. Would love to know about your experience.

  2. Vera

    Wow, that is one beautiful train station! I am a bit surprised though that the people at the ticketing counter didn’t speak English since they surely must get quite an international crowd, no…? Oh well, at least you didn’t lose your money, even though I imagine that it was a bit stressful. Looking forward to reading more:)

    1. Cathy Post author

      I think the lesson for me is that I need to learn more Italian before I visit again — and pay better attention. Jet lag is a dangerous thing. 😉

  3. jenny@atasteoftravel

    Milan is one of my favourite cities so arriving there is always exciting. Not a good start but I’m sure after checking in at that fabulous hotel, all was forgotten. I’m looking forward to reading about your Italian Escapade!

  4. Marcia

    Whew, good thing you looked at your tickets, Cathy! Glad you didn’t lose your money.
    This is quite an entrance to Milano. Can’t wait to read about the rest of your Italian experience.

    1. Cathy Post author

      I’d seen photos of the station before, but it’s really when you’re there that you fully appreciate its beauty. I was very pleased with the outcome. Another person told us that they didn’t think we’d be able to get the refund. So, it’s actually a positive experience.

  5. Nancie

    What a gorgeous train station. Can’t wait to read more of your adventures! I’ve had my challenges with train tickets over the years, and have learned to check and re-check.

  6. Pingback: Hidden Emilia-Romagna: Modigliana and Tredozio » Traveling with Sweeney

    1. Cathy Post author

      Stay tuned — we had a fabulous time and we’re looking forward to sharing our stories. It’s just a matter of finding the time! 😉

  7. Jennifer

    So glad you were able to get your train tickets sorted! I utilize the treinitalia website or the Info Treni iPhone app to do all my route planning. Having a print out helps communicate exactly what you need when you don’t speak the language.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Ironically, we thought that since we were actually there at the station anyway it would be a quick, easy way to take care of things. 🙂

  8. Andrew

    We were just in Milan Train station a week ago changing trains to come home from Italy. Glad you got your tickets figured out. We have had really good luck using the ticket machines which switch into English. They don’t always have the good deals like the TrenItalia site, but the tickets are there and fast.

    1. Cathy Post author

      We saw the ticket machines, but the line to see a real person seemed to be moving faster — made the assumption it would be the best way to go. All my fault really for not looking at the screen more closely before the tickets were printed. Live and learn…..

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