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The Croatian Coast
Vacation in Milan
July 23 - Venice to Milan
vaporetto stop was about 50 meters from the Centro, so it was an easy
trip to get on the vaporetto with our luggage to go to the Venice train
station. I wish we had more time in Venice - there is a lot to see and
the city is so beautiful, even though there is a lot of graffiti and a
fair amount of litter. I would love to come back. It is hard for me to
imagine that most people have one day or less in this city.
train to Milano left the station right on time and pulled into Milano
only a few minutes late - it was a very impressive trip. The train was
clean and efficient (except for the tourists who seem to think they
need enough clothes to cover every eventuality so they take an
inordinate amount of luggage).
friend, Giorgio, was at the train station to meet us, We hadn't made
reservations at a hotel, so he called a friend and was directed to a
hotel not far from the station - very central and reasonably priced.
has impeccable manners and is very knowledgeable about Milano - he has
lived in the city almost all of his life, except for a stint in
Copenhagen - his family is an old Milanese family, so his roots go back
We had a
brief tour of the city, then agreed to meet at 7 pm for our trip to La
Scala. The performance was 'La Boheme'.
can you say about La Scala? It is the premier opera house in the world
- and to hear Puccini - my goodness. Beyond that, the sets were by
Franco Zefferelli - they were amazing - how they could fit so much of a
Paris street scene (act 2) on a stage is just phenomenal. Our box was
only a few meters from the stage. The performance was flawless. What
made it especially memorable was the people watching - this was the
closing performance of the season - a smaller version of opening night
- women in beautiful gowns - from quite plain to truly elegant. What an
July 25 - Milan
is the fashion capital of Italy - and July is when they have their end
of summer sales - the discounts are phenomenal - if you are into Gucci,
Dolce and Gabbana, Ferragamo, Dior, Armani, Louie Vouiton. We aren't.
However, Tom needed a couple of pair of shorts - the ones he brought
were too heavy - they didn't dry well and were hot - so we headed into
the Galleria area (near the Duomo) in search of something affordable
and not too kinky. We first tried La Rinacente - a very elegant
department store - no luck, unless, you want to pay $100 (on sale) for
shorts. Several shops later, we found ones that were reasonably priced
and not weird. Italy has a youth culture - it is easy to find clothes
if you are willing to spend a lot of money and are in your 20s. Beyond
that, little luck. What I can't get over is the number of middle
eastern women, all ensconced in their garb, who are shopping in the
exclusive stores - if you have to hide your $700 dress beneath a robe,
had a light lunch, then met Giorgio for a city tour - he took us to the
natural history museum - which was excellent, especially the animal
exhibits, shown in dioramas of their natural habitat.
had a brief stop at the Galleria - the fashion capital of the fashion
capital. it is very beautiful - and posh - and there is a mosaic in the
floor - I think it is a wolf - the superstition is that you take a turn
on his testicles for good luck - so many people have done this that his
testicles are gone - a hole in the mosaic. Tom, Giorgio and I each had
left us back at our hotel with the agreement that we would meet for
dinner at 8:00. This involved a combination metro and bus ride to a
Cavaci) owned by
one of his clients .
isn't a large restaurant, but it is wonderful, with very attentive
service, The waiter brought out the specialty of the house for the
antipasto - a carpaccio. We've always avoided these in the past, but
this was wonderful - flavorful and tender. Then we each had a risotto
(rice) with porcini mushrooms - excellent. For mains, I had a sole with
butter and lemon, Tom had orata (fish) grilled and Giorgio had a mixed
fish grill. The men had patate fritte and I had fried artichokes (they
were wonderful). In case we didn't have enough to eat, we had a small
dessert that was of Brazilian derivation - a sort of coffee mousse atop
gelato with raspberry sauce. Oh yes, a Chardonnay with dinner (and
mineral water) and espresso after. Good thing we don't eat this way
and I took the Metro (which is an excellent public transport service)
back to the hotel, with the agreement that we'd meet Giorgio the next
day near the castle.
July 26 - Milan
hadn't yet seen the Duomo (well, the last time we saw it was 32 years
ago), so we took the Metro into the Piazzo del Duomo for a look around.
It is going through a restoration - hard to imagine doing a cleaning
job on such an ornate structure - so there is the obligatory
scaffolding. The exterior of the Milan cathedral is unique - not
gothic or Norman or any of the other styles one associates with Europe,
it is alive with statues and gargoyles of all shapes and sizes. What we
liked the most was the colors and patterns in the marble - it gives the
Piazza Duomo is alive and busy - tourists, demonstrations (political?
religious? I don't know) and all shades of Italian law enforcement -
the Carabinieri, the Polizia Locale, the Guardia di Finanza - who knows
which others. Part of their presence is to keep in check the many
street vendors - mostly 'clandestini' (illegal immigrants) who are
selling 'genuine' Gucci handbags, 'original' Ray Ban sunglasses, etc.
Whenever a law enforcement officer appears, the clandistino picks up
his wares and hotfoots into the little alley ways.
met Giorgio in front of the Castle Sforza - huge, old and imposing. We
viewed the Egyptian collection (quite impressive) and then the pinoteca
(art gallery) as well as a collection of furniture from about 1400 to
1950 - laid out as rooms would have been. It was very well done.
wasn't sure, but he thought he might have to meet a client in Como in
the evening, so we left the evening open. As it turned out, his
appointment did take place, so Tom and I were on our own for dinner,
which we had at a restaurant very near the hotel.
was excellent - we had a splurge - first of the season porcini mushrooms,
sliced, breaded with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and fried in olive oil. We
each had a pasta dish for mains and shared a plate of grilled vegetables. It was
a wonderful meal (not the gourmet
treat of the previous evening, though) and we thoroughly enjoyed it.