A FLARE is ignited on the other side of San Siro Stadium as Inter Milan score another smash against Roma.
Hordes of bare-chested men hop up and down in celebration, and some 80,000 seats begin to shake to a roar of cheers.
I came to Milan for the stunning architecture and delicious Italian cuisine, but somehow I found myself at a football game surrounded by beer-sipping fans.
It’s not quite what I signed up for when I booked my £8 flights – yes really, £8 – but I feel like I’ve absorbed an important piece of local culture.
Most people come to the city in the country’s northern Lombardy region for its fashion, design and fine dining.
There’s his art too, including Leonardo da Vinci’s mural The Last Supper.
But I, or more specifically my partner, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to venture into Milan’s famous stadium, which has hosted some of the biggest football matches in the world.
We snagged last minute tickets on a resale site at a similar price to the Premier League. But it was worth the cost.
The atmosphere is second to none and the two hours I spent amongst the fans was so much fun that I now say that squeezing into a game of either side of the city is a must on a Milan holiday – even if you are not that interested in the sport.
To unwind after the excitement, we took a stroll along the canals in the Navigli district, which is full of lively bars, gourmet restaurants and riverside boutiques.
Even if football cost us a few pounds, you don’t have to shell out a fortune to make the most of the city.
Swing by Be Bop, a stylish restaurant on the water’s northernmost point, serving classic Italian dishes like pizza as well as savory crepes with plant-based béchamel sauce.
The reasonably priced menu offers an amazing array of delicious gluten-free and vegan options — something you’d think would be hard to find in a country topped with cheese for its carbs.
Milan is huge, but all the restaurants, attractions and sights are in the city center, meaning you’re always an easy walk or a short metro or tram ride from your desired destination.
CLOONEY’S SUMMER HOUSE
And they’re also perfect for day trips to other top cities in this culture-packed country.
If you have time, head to the blue waters of Lake Como, which is only an hour away by train or car and is definitely a bucket list spot.
A day hopping between the lake towns of Como, Bellagio and Varenna makes it clear why George Clooney spends his summers there.
If you’re keen to spend a few days in the area, I recommend booking at least one night out on the water.
When you return to Milan, be sure to visit the Sforzesco Castle and the Monumental Cemetery, both of which are free to enter and make great backdrops for vacation snaps.
However, of all the historical places, a trip to Milan would not be complete without seeing the magical Duomo.
The 114-meter-tall Gothic cathedral sits in the center of the city and is the number one tourist attraction for good reason.
Its impressive architecture looks just as breathtakingly beautiful on the inside as it does on the outside.
However, a climb to the roof is where the magic really happens.
From the high terraces you can admire the building’s intricate design up close, but also enjoy panoramic views of the city and the impressive piazza below.
Even with the thrill of Inter Milan’s 3-1 win, the Duomo is still my last-minute winner for a trip to Milan – but only just.
COVID: Fully vaccinated travelers or those who have recovered from Covid in the past six months do not need to undergo tests to enter Italy.
Non-vaccinated passengers must provide proof of a negative PCR performed within 72 hours of arrival or a negative lateral flow performed within 48 hours of arrival.
GET THERE: Wizz Air flies from Gatwick and Luton to Milan Malpensa from £8.99 each way. See wizzair.com.
STAY THERE: Ibis Milano Ca Granda has double rooms from £59 per night. See ibis.accor.com.
ON THE GO AND ON THE ROAD: Entrance to the Duomo Cathedral is £16 per adult, including access to the archaeological area, rooftops and the Duomo Museum with exhibitions. Tickets for the Cathedral only cost £4. See duomomilano.it.
https://www.thesun.ie/travel/8757513/milan-travel-flights-food-football/ The European hotspot, home to some of the biggest football matches in the world