After the sweltering heat of Day Two, I decided to don a bit of a more summery outfit on our third day in beautiful Milano.
The human map decided that we should go on a bus tour today, the big red bus with ear phones that almost always never work, and usually get stuck on the German translation.
I have been on the tour of Edinburgh when I was working there, and found it incredibly handy to get about and see all the most important attractions. This would be the best way for us to find our bearings in Milan.
We found out that this CitySightseeing Tour had two routes, which was great, because there are so many things to see of importance in Milan that one route would have taken hours. Paying our €20 each (just under £20 quid), we boarded the bus and climbed to the top deck with our wee red earphones.
As we had got on at Duomo, the first stop was famous opera house, La Scala. It wasn’t as majestic as I had thought it might be, although later in the week we had the pleasure of seeing it lit up at night, where I expect is when it comes alive anyway. Teatro Alla Scala has been resident in Milan since 1778, and hosts some of the most famous and successful operas, ballets and recitals in the world, such as Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.
Along the road is Museo Poldi Pezzoli, home to the art collection of Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli. To be honest, I only realised we had passed the museum when the day was over, because I had a slightly dodgy earphone situation. Home to a collection of mainly renaissance art, glassware, textiles and jewellery, I would love to visit here if I am lucky enough to go back to Milan.
Journing through the Fashion District, we got to see how the other half really live. One of the things I loved about Milan was how everyone seemed to be dressed to impress, at all times. At 7 o’clock in the evening, when all the banks, offices and shops close, the
metro is popping with ladies in sky high stilettos, strutting onto escalators and jostling for position on the heaving trains. Gianfranco Ferre and Dolce and Gabbana are as commonly there as River Island bags or Primark dresses are in Glasgow. The ladies look immaculately turned out, with perfectly set make up even after 12 hours sweating it out in the Milanese Stock Exchange. And, when they get too old to look good naturally, many of them are not adverse to a little nip/tuck.
The men are sharp. Classically beautiful, with groomed hair, sculpted beards and distinguished moustaches. The suits are designer, of course, the shoes are polished and perfect. You won’t regularly see a business man creasing his suit by carrying a backpack. Briefcases and Italian leather man-bags carry laptops and wallets. It’s such a different life, almost as if the people who work and play in the heart of Milan feel like they’d be doing the city an injustice by dressing down.
Through the beautiful gardens and stately homes of the Manin district (Napoleon actually lived there in the early 1800’s), we entered
Moscova, which is also easily accessible by Milan Metro. The Arena Civica, Milan’s early answer to the now world famous San Siro, can be seen here, still used today for small sporting events. Moscova is also home to Milan’s China Town, which we didn’t get to see too much of unfortunately!
Just off of Moscova is one of my favourite streets in Milan. We didn’t particularly notice much driving through, but later as we wandered around, we found a long street laden with beautiful shops and cafes, called Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi.
We decided to get off at the next stop, the Castello, to have a wander around. After a stop off for our first taste of Italian gelato sitting outside the rather glamorous looking Piccolo Teatro in the sunshine.
The Castello Sforzescowas a total undiscovered treasure for me. I’d had a good scout around websites to see what we could do in the city before we arrived, and I had never even heard of it. It really is breathtaking, the
grounds are beautiful. The massive fountain at the front of the castle adds even more magic. We walked through the courtyard where we could have went and looked at some of the original Lombardy paintings and sculptures, but we decided to keep going to get to the gardens.
On our way through we were accosted by a lady ranting about signing a petition for an anti-drugs campaign, which I did, and then realised you had to donate money! Cheeky cow! We threw a €5 note at her ex-junkie face and walked away. Scammed in Italy.
The gardens are simply stunning. We even saw a couple getting their wedding photos taken there, which would have been complete fairy-tale. Beats round the back of the Popinjay hotel anyway.
We ended up walking all the way back to my favourite street that I mentioned earlier, and it really is very cute. We found a wall which was written on in chalk, with ideas for what the derelict building could become. The ideas
ranged from bakery, to a library or swimming pool. I loved that concept! Although I imagine that the suggestions on the side of a building in Glasgow City Centre may need to be censored somewhat.
The bakeries in Milan are a.maze.ing. If you like cakes, which, lets face it, everyone does, then you will love love love the pasticceria’s of Milan. Cakes are displayed in the windows like proud trophies, each one packed with perfectly piped cream or custard, hand decorated with chocolate and fruit.
Massive cakes are available to buy, presumably for dinner parties or birthdays, and look delicious and
fresh, baked in store every day by very talented bakers. Greggs, these ain’t. We even found a charcuterie with loads of meat hanging from the ceiling. It looked amazing!
The tour certainly put us on the right path for touring Milan by foot for the rest of our trip. It’s hungry work, so we walked back to the Duomo square and stopped for lunch at a pizzeria in one of the side streets.
Rab decided to be mental and try a Milanese pizza, with saffron and cheese, and some undesirable meat stuff. I went for something I rarely get to enjoy, because I rarely order a pizza for one and Rab refuses to eat it! Pizza con tonno. Absolutely bloody lovely, with some wine to boot (of course!).
Home to the hotel, we got ready for our evening out. Like I said in a previous post, the bar and nightclub culture is either very well hidden, or very rare in Milan, so we decided to look for somewhere to eat. We wandered back to the shopping district, and eventually settled on a buffet restaurant.
Shown to our table, we presumed it was a Chinese buffet, but on closer inspection, it seemed to be what I like to call a ‘freezer buffet’. This is when you have nothing in the house to eat, so you just take stuff out of the freezer
and blitz it all in the oven. Fish fingers, chicken dippers, spring rolls, oven chips, that kind of thing. This appeared to be the case when we approached the counters, filled with sushi, breads, veggies, potatoes, noodles, and just loads of stuff!
We then approached the meat bar, where you chose what you would like to eat and then had them cook it for you there and then. Swordfish, chicken, pork, horse. HORSE. Actual horse! I was a little repulsed at Black Beauty being served up but strangely intrigued to try it! I didn’t though, I’m not that cool.
The experience was just weird really. Give me traditional Italian any day!
Walking back to the hotel, we felt a sudden change in the climate. Bearing in mind it was supposed to rain every day we were there, the heat had caused the threat of thunder.
Back in the hotel bar (where we put everything on a tab. Free drinks, until check out!), I had a hot chocolate, probably the sweetest drink I have ever had, and sat on the terrace listening to the thunder and observing an American couple, the woman clearly with the man for his money. Certainly wasn’t his
The heavens opened, and the rain came down in torrents, bouncing off the street. We watched from inside. Even the rain in Milan was beautiful!
So off to bed we go. We planned to go to Bergamo in the morning, hoping to see the town that we should have seen when we first arrived. Falling asleep to the sound of Italian politics shows was becoming quite relaxing!