May 1st 2015, rain, rain, rain! Three boys who need entertainment, three parents who need a break. What to do?! Simple, take them to Volandia – a historic museum of aviation and park in one!
Volandia is set at in industrial area along the highway between Malpensa Terminal 1 and 2. Due to its vicinity to the airport it would make for a perfect place when on a stopover or when your flight is delayed. The Museum is aiming for all age groups really: exhibitions for adults, the in- and outdoor playgrounds for the kids and everything else – planes, helicopters, games and simulators – for all ages.
Getting there is simple, even if you don’t have a GPS: Drive to Malpensa Airport, pass the exit for Terminal 1 or 2 and continue on the highway till the exit sign says Somma – Lombardo. Get off here and follow the signs to Volandia. Currently (May 2015) they are working on the road, but the signing is really done well and you can completely rely on it. There are 3 parking areas, drive to the one signed “ingress/Entrance/P1/P2” first to see if there is parking free as from P3 you may have to walk a little to get to the entrance. All parking is free of charge.
Tickets can be bought online (discount for kids) or at the register with cash, maestro (pin)card and with major credit cards. Also, the food at the restaurant and the souvenirs at the shop can be paid with card. The whole museum is stroller friendly, though the first hall we went in to we had to get up some stairs. I do believe it’s possible to get around this though.
On the way to the airport museum my son got really enthusiastic and shouted “Oh yes, they will have trains!”. “well honey”, I responded, “it’s an aviation museum, so they will only have planes”. Ha, little did I know! Upon entering the first room, we found a large space dedicated to model trains! Not sure why the trains were there, but the kids loved them.
On we went to see what else Volandia had to offer… We discovered some really great flight simulators, but…hold on. What?! They close for lunch between 12.30 and 14.00. You must be joking! We arrived at 12, with buying tickets and watching the trains, we arrived at the simulators in the first hall at 12.25. And it was closed already as “I am alone today sir, so sorry, cannot be open now”. What a disappointment! Especially as we had to leave at 14.45 as my husband had another appointment later that day (yes, poor planning, I know…).
On we went through the big buildings scattered over a large area; for those who know Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam, that’s what the area reminded me of. Many old flying machines were put up for display: Helicopters for medical, fire fighting and military use, freight flyers, military planes, one of the first planes build, planes you could only look at and some that you could enter to touch and feel.
Around 13.15 we got hungry and we headed to the restaurant, conveniently located next to the in- and outdoor (aviation themed) playground.
About the restaurant…
Tip 1: Do not go at 13.15. It’s busy. Very busy. Check the opening times of the restaurant and go as early or as late as possible.
Tip 2: Don’t stand in that long line you see in the far right corner if you want a proper warm lunch, because after standing there for 15 minutes you will realize that you can only buy on-the-go food there. For a warm lunch you will have to sit at one of the wooden tables and wait for a waiter.
Tip 3: Don’t go to the restaurant hungry! The waiter is called waiter for a good reason: He makes you wait. We sat down, waited for a while, the waiter came and told us to wait 10 minutes before he could even take our order. I am laughing as I write this. Anywho…
We waited, no joke, 60 minutes for our pomodori pasta (2x), Pesto pasta (1x), lasagna (2x), a coke, icetea (2x) and a large and small bottle of still water. Not really culinary challenges in my humble opinion. The price was a pleasant surprise though: €47, for three adults and three kids. Not bad. And the food did taste good!
As we were running late for my husband’s appointment, we rushed to the exit and left, but I am sure our kids could’ve played at both playgrounds for hours, we could’ve enjoyed all the flight simulators, go see the planetarium and tried out one or two of the Wii consoles which featured several flight games (amongst which Disney’s Planes game for Wii).
Our conclusion was that it definitely makes for a full day out, especially if you have lunch there, and will definitely go back for a longer visit in the near future!
VOLANDIA, Parco e Museo del volo
Area Ex officine Aeronautiche Caproni,
Via per Tornavento n.15, Case Nuove 21019 Somma Lombardo (Varese) ITALY
Closed on Monday
Tuesday – Friday: 10.00 – 19.00 (ticket office closes at 17.30)
Saturday and Sunday: 10.00 – 19.30 (ticket office closes at 17.30)
Kids 3 – 11: €8 (online, pre-bought: €5)
Kids 0 – 2: free
Some discounts apply, check site for more details
F&B: Kids menu €4,90; Starter €5, main course €8, Coffee €1.
The website does not mention this, but simulators are closed between 12.30 and 14.00!
P.S. Apologies for the poor image quality, but my camera recently died and my iPhone camera has been used and abused to much I’m afraid.
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