We arrived in Milan around 7:30pm on Monday evening and met Violetta, our host, at the end of the platform. Immediately we loved her. She was sweet, funny, gracious, and bore a slight resemblance to Tina Fey. It was about a 20 minute walk to her flat and since we were so exhausted from the day and night before she offered to make us pasta. We enthusiastically accepted and greedily watched a genuine Italian prepare pasta. It was simple – noodles, chunks of mozzarella, quarters of tomatoes – but absolutely delicious.
Tuesday we slept in and then ventured out into Milan. We took the subway into the centre; as we emerged from the stairwell the first thing I saw was Il Duomo. Wow. What a spectacular sight. It’s massive. Since I forgot a wrap to cover my shoulders we couldn’t go inside yet, so instead we marveled at its beauty from the outside. Then we walked through the plaza to the Galleria. It’s gorgeous – open with mosaic floors and glass ceilings. It truly stops one in their tracks. We walked through the Galleria and came out the other side in front of Teatro alla Scala, the famous opera house. Unfortunately since it was almost August there were no performances, but we could still tour the building. It was phenomenal! Simply amazing. I would love to see an opera there. The rest of the day we mainly wandered around – through the castle, in the park, into an expensive vintage designer store, and then back to Violetta’s to cool down. We found an independent film – Life During Wartime – at one of Milan’s art houses and Violetta invited some friends of hers to meet us. We had kebabs and then rushed to the theater only to discover that we were at the wrong theater! A nice Italian couple offered to drive us to the other theater so me, Zach, and Violetta piled into the backseat of their car and made it to the film. We only missed the first 5 minutes!
The following day, Wednesday, I remembered to bring a wrap so we visited Il Duomo. After visiting so many cathedrals on our trip I didn’t find Il Duomo that fantastic. I think the outside is much more beautiful than the interior. The interior is dark – all the windows are stained-glass – and large with the usual statues. We went down into the crypt and that was very different from many others we have visited. It was extremely ornate and elaborate – really beautiful. We left and slipped down a side street in search of a vintage store – Humana. It was a gold mine! So many great things at prices we could actually afford, plus everything was 50% off!! Zach found a groovy tie and I couldn’t part with an adorable vintage handbag!
Afterwards we went over to another side of town and visited the Museum of Modern Art – which is housed in the mansion Napoleon lived in while Milan was the capital of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy. First we saw an exhibition by Zhang Huan, one of China’s foremost artists, and then we toured the halls of Napoleon’s former residence – gorgeous. We left and decided to take a break from walking and the heat at Violetta’s, where we passed a couple of hours before venturing back into the city. We went across town to stroll by the canals in the Navigli district – the Venice of Lombardy – and wound up at a famous bakery in Milan – Il Forno de Navigli. We chose a delectable tart filled with chocolate and topped with candied walnuts… amazing! The Navigli was gorgeous; restaurants lined the canal and each had a terrace for al fresco dining. We ducked into a few stores along the way – I made it away unscathed, but Zach bought a book and a record – and then eventually made our way back to Violetta’s to pack our things and prepare for an early departure Thursday morning. We drank a couple more Italian beers, chatted a bit with Violetta, and then settled in for our final night in Italy.
P.S. – One thing we were not able to do in Milan was view Da Vinci’s “Last Supper.” A viewing reservation is required and the next available opening was in September… maybe next time.