Five Hours in Milan
Milan’s Malpensa International Airport (MXP) is a huge behemoth that requires plenty of time to navigate. Long transits here need not be excessively painful as there’s a plethora of shopping and dining options - not to mention a newly-renovated Lufthansa Lounge that is open to Star Alliance Gold members.
If you have fine hours or more during your MXP transit then you’ve good reason to high-tail it out of the airport - or at least to the areas nearby.
As with many major airports these days, high-speed rail links make it possible to step out of the secure zone, store your bags in a safe storage facility and hop onto a fast moving train into the city centre.
The MXP rail centre is just a short walk from the main arrivals area and doesn’t require you to even go outside to brave the elements. Multi-language ticket kiosks are available on the ground floor plaza, as are ticket counters manned by human beings. A same-day return ticket costs 20 Euros, and if you are lucky, you will be whisked into Milan’s central train station - Milano Centrale -within 45 minutes. Another central station connected to the airport is in the hip design district of Garibaldi. But a word of warning: this being Italy, be prepared for delays and strikes.
If you are lucky enough to arrive at Stazione Garibaldi, then you are a short stroll away from some fabulous dining and drinking options, including one of our favourites - 10 Corso Como. The historic, relaxing property offers a restaurant, fabulous bar, gallery, boutique retail outlet, quiet areas for working and a small hotel (only three suites, but all with full amenities and in the 300 Euro/night price range). We had a cooling Italian beer and a mojito for 27 Euros.
But remember - again, this being Italy, late lunch-goers may find the kitchen closed between the lunch and dinner hours. If that is the case head around the corner to the venerable Eataly Milano Smiraldo (Piazza Venticinque Aprile, 10) - the dining complex and upscale Italian grocery store/market. We each had a generous sized pizza and glass of prosecco for 14 Euros.
For wine bars that are somewhat off-the-beaten track, transit passengers have several options in central Milan - including N’Ombra de Vin in via San Marco. Nearby restaurants are: Pacifico, Via della Moscova 29, (excellent ceviche); Fioraio Bianchi Caffe, Via Montebello, 7; and Cittamani, Piazza Carlo Mirabello, 5 (Indian food with an Italian twist!).
If you prefer to stick close to Milano Centrale, take a short stroll to a top quality Italian restaurant, La Porta Rossa, Via Vittor Pisani, 3. It features superior cuisine and wines from the Puglia region.
If you happen to be transiting during August, some establishments are closed for most of the month.
Finally, if you want to play it safe and not venture too far away from Malpensa Airport, there’s some good news: about a 18 minute drive away is the Ermenegildo Zegna outlet (Via Novara 71, Oleggio). Also about a 20-minute drive away is Ristorante Ma.Ri.Na (piazza San Gregorio 11, Olgiate Olona). In business for over 40 years and a one star Michelin restaurant, it serves classic fish specialities alongside occasionally more creative and unusual fare. Great service and definitely not over-priced!