Day 2 of our trip started pretty well considering neither of us slept very well. It could have been the massive, rather firm bed. In my case it was probably excitement for our journey into beautiful Milan the next day.
We dressed for breakfast, and went down to find a buffet trolley set up. I LOVE buffet breakfasts, because usually, brekkie is a bit of toast of some eggs for me, and buffet breakfasts give you the chance to get a bit of everything on your plate. I used to work for a reviewing website for a living, and ever since then I have the overwhelming urge to take pictures of every single thing I eat and place I go to. The breakfast buffet was the perfect photo opportunity!
Continental breakfasts are amazing too, with croissants, brioche, preserves and yoghurt, fruit and cheese. Delicious! The cooked breakfast items were hidden under a silver tray. Boiled frankfurter sausages and crispy fried eggs. I decided to stick to the fruit.
Another interesting thing were the cakes on display! Cheesecake, cream-cakes, topped with cream and fruit, for breakfast! I officially loved Italy by this point.
You’ll be sad to hear that Lidl was closed (yes, we did go and see if we could have a browse, sad I know, since I live about 5 minutes walk from Lidl at home), but we decided not to let this dampen our spirits, and got packed up to go. The lady at the desk provided us with maps, and even got the hotel driver to take us to the station. (Note: Maybe this would have been a good idea for coming from the airport! Would have saved us money!)
Arriving at Stezzano Railway Station, Rab decided to flex his Italiano and ask a burly gentleman when ‘the next train, tr-a-in, to Milano, Meeelano’ was. He pointed to the other side as we saw the train approaching in the distance.
The wheels on the case were mangled, so que Rab hugging this massive case to his chest whilst belting down the steps. The Italian man then seemed to be chasing us, and I basically had a fit incase he was a mugger, but he was only running to tell the train conductor to wait for us and where we were going. Lovely, lovely Italian!
The trains are basic. Hot, hot, hot. Very old fashioned, almost movie-like.
The conductor told us we had to get off at Dalmaine Station and wait there for a train to Milan. So that is what we did. The next train to Milan was over an hour away, so, feeling rather smug that we managed to get the train thus far, we decided to throw caution to the wind and get a train into Bergamo, then one from there to Milan.
Unfortunately, our smugness wore off when we got to Bergamo and the next train wasn’t for an hour. Silly us.
It was actually nice to sit in the shade and have a wee look at the different trains, graffiti laden and shabby, with two levels, an upper deck and a lower deck, separated with rather annoying swingy perspex doors. The trains have absolutely no ventilation but the windows, so prepare for a really hot and sweaty journey.
Milan was well in our sights as we got on the train for our 50 minute journey. One thing we did comment on was how we’d managed to travel for around 2 hours without being charged a single train fare, rather cheerfully of course because saving money is always a good thing!
The journey from Bergamo to Milan was pretty uneventful; scenes of countryside with animals, lakes, absolutely loads of green space sprinkled with traditional painted houses, with mismatching shutter windows and balconies, almost every single one strewn with bed covers. This was something we saw loads as we travelled from place to place, so it must be a common thing to hang your sheets out every single morning to air them.
Siamo arrivati alla fine! Milano!
We were so happy to arrive, and pretty overwhelmed by the beauty of Stazione di Milano Centrale, the central station of the city. Introduced in 1931, replacing the old station, this railway station has 24 platforms and a plethora of bars, restaurants, and even shops such as Armani and Zara! It was more like an airport.
We walked to our hotel, which was lovely. The Crowne Plaza Milan City is situated on Via Melchiorre Gioia, a mere 4 minute stroll from the station.
As you probably read from the first post about our holiday, I get quite intoxicated with the whole idea of a hotel room, and all the wee bits and bobs you get in there. So you can
imagine my glee when I saw the mini bar and coffee making area, the ‘Welcome To The Crowne Plaza’ screen that was on our television, the dressing gown on the back of the door, and the ‘sleep kit’ resting on our pillows. Like a kid in a candy store.
The room had a running theme of, well, a woman’s face, which adorned the panel above the bed, the bin and the wardrobe. I didn’t care much for it if I’m honest, perhaps the design could have been better, but as a whole, the room was absolutely perfect.
We didn’t waste much time setting off to explore, and armed with my trusty walking and talking map/sat nav of a boyfriend, I wasn’t too worried that we were wandering around Milan with no idea where to go.
One of my favourite things about the city already was the eating and drinking culture. Italians love to eat, and aren’t shy about drinking alcohol all the time, with almost every meal. This is my sort of place. We grabbed a foccacia from a wee pasticceria down the road, and kept walking onto a beautiful park slap bang in the middle of such an urban metropolis.
The Giardini Pubblici is a 40 acre park, the biggest in Milan. You forget completely that you’re in a city and are totally taken in by the greenery, dusty paths, lakes and water fountains.
People are jogging, walking around in high heels and suits on their lunch break, kids cycling around and walking dogs. We watched a homeless man, his life in a battered suitcase, wash his face and feet in the water fountain in the centre of the park and then lie down to sleep.
Oh, the foccacia. Amazing. The size of a small pathing slab, but bloody fantastic all the same.
So we wandered down to the Duomo through the busy streets of Corso Venezia, lined with Vivienne Westwood and Dolce and Gabbana stores, all of which I will be re-visiting when one of us wins the lottery/is recognised for our overwhelming talents and given a significant pay-rise.
Rab refused to take any pictures of the Duomo Cathedral at this point, because it ‘wasn’t the sightseeing day’. We were absolutely knackered as well, after a sleepless night and VERY warm day (I only packed leggings and maxis- the weather forecast for 5 days was rain, heavy rain, and loads of rain. Instead it was 28°C!) So we headed back to the hotel to get ready to go out for dinner, excited about exploring the area at night.
Our hotel had a lovely terraced area, so we bought a bottle of gorgeous Italian white wine from the bar (over £13 for half a bottle,
expensive stuff!) and sat out on the terrace to enjoy the early evening sunshine. I felt so utterly content at that moment, it was fantastic. Rab, as usual, had his head in a book about Rangers F.C. You can take the boy out of Glasgow…
Travelling down to Duomo was a little easier this time. The Sondrio Metro stop was right outside our hotel, absolutely ideal, and only 4 or 5 stops and 10 minutes away from the Piazza Duomo. A ticket for the metro is €1 per single trip. You can buy 10 journey cards too, but for some reason we never bothered.
The Duomo Square is pretty confusing. This huge, overwhelming structure towers over you as you stand in the square, the statue of Victor Emmanuel II’s grandeur at the other side and the Emmanuel Shopping Piazza to the side. Deciding which way to go was impossible.
We wandered down the side streets and came to a wee cafe-restaurant, Bellavista, where we decided that the
menu was suitable for our budget and we went in. The inside was just exactly as I had imagined an Italian cafe to be!
Mementos everywhere, dark woods, dusty wine bottles, little tables with checked cloths, hanging lights. Beautiful. We got some menus, and ordered some wine (of course!).
We went for the antipasto starter, which is an outstanding favourite of mine every time I visit an Italian restaurant here in the UK. The plate was huge, filled with lots of delicious meats.
Prosciutto and pancetta, as well as mozzarella, peppered cheese (amazing!), deep fried pizza bread and olives encased in mincemeat and breadcrumbs (new, but delicious!) made up the plate, which was definitely the nicest antipasto I have ever had!
For main, I opted for orichette pasta, a pasta that I have rarely eaten and is rarely seen on UK Italian menus, with crumbled sausage, sugo and garlic. This sort of food is my idea of complete heaven.
Rab went for a huge pizza, with spiced chicken. Both looked awesome, and my pasta was brilliant. Washed down with more wine (When in Rome…or Milan…) we finished it off and couldn’t eat another bite, not even tiramisu, my fave.
Wandering around Piazza Duomo at night was beautiful. I did notice that there aren’t any bars or pubs, just
restaurants and cafes. The drinking culture is far more subdued, far more normalised.
I didn’t see anyone stoating around drunk (not even Rab). It just isn’t their way which I totally appreciated. I loved that about the place. Drinking wine or beer is done with food, making drunkenness much rarer than it is in Scotland.
Lit up, Milan is stunning. A woman played a grand piano in the centre of the Emmanuel shopping mall, people gathered around watching her. Street sellers threw flashing helicopter toys into the sky and chased them around the square. The Duomo looked even more magical than it did earlier in the day.
Our first full day in Milan was perfect. We slept like babies that night, and I couldn’t wait to get up and get started the next day. You could even set the alarm clock on the television, and you can only imagine how excited that made me!