For our last weekend trip, Caelie and I went to Milan! Lyon is so close to Italy that it would have been a shame not to visit, so we hopped on a megabus and went to the European capital of fashion! Our airbnb host was super friendly. He showed us his art studio and taught us a few Italian phrases (which we promptly forgot) – a great welcome to the city!
We visited the Porta Ticinese, and then spent time walking around the Navigli district. It was a really nice area by the river, with lots of small shops and restaurants. On the way were some strange art pieces – snails and birds – displays for the Expo. We decided not to visit the Expo since we were more interested in learning about Milan and Italian culture (although they had a great deal: night tickets were only 5 euro, compared to over 30 euro if you begin your visit in the day – great if you want to just breeze through, but not enough time to really appreciate everything).
What better to way to appreciate Italian culture than with gelato? After trying delicious Pistacchio gelato in Rome, I really looked forward to having more. I paired it with another nutty flavour, Contessa, which had almonds and pralines scattered in it. It was so hot out (around 38 degrees) that it melted as I ate it, but it was so good anyway! Caelie got Riccota e Fichi and Passion Fruit.
The architecture was also beautiful. We saw the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio and Santa Maria delle Grazie. We stopped by the Castello Sforzesco, during a mini guitar concert. The exhibition apparently housed the biggest guitar in the world… But we didn’t find it! Behind the castle was a refreshing fountain you could dip your feet in. Or, apparently, tan on. We saw a woman who had quasi-orange skin working on her tan… To each her own.
For lunch we tried a Milan specialty, risotto alla Milanese. It is a rice dish cooked with saffron, giving it a deep yellow colour. It was super savoury! We also experienced having to pay for water again – 4 euro for 1 litre, ouch! But we were desperately dehydrated, so I considered it an investment for our health.
A visit to Milan is not complete without seeing the Duomo di Milano, a stunning cathedral. We hoped to continue our tradition of seeing great city views everywhere we travelled to, but there was a strict dress code (covered shoulders and bottoms that cover past the knee). Instead, Caelie fed some pigeons. A man came us to us and put some corn in her hand, whistled, and then she became a pigeon whisperer! (Of course, he asked us for money afterwards.)
We checked out the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a really fancy collection of expensive shops. We realized how broke we were when we went into the Ferrari store. To end the night, we saw the Teatro Alla Scala, walked around the Pinacoteca di Brera and then went back to the Navigli area for dinner. I had another regional specialty, Cotoletta alla Milanese – breaded veal fried in butter. The tomatoes and parmasean were refreshing and a great complement to the meat.
To start our second day, we said buongiorno to the Torre Velasca. We had no idea what Torre meant, and so didn’t know what to look for. Once we saw this majestic structure from far we realized it meant Tower, haha. Next we went to climb the Duomo! We covered ourselves as best as we could (put on extra layers of clothing), walked through the cathedral, and then ascended the 150 stairs. Caelie swore it hurt even more than hiking in the Alps. (No way!) The view wasn’t spectacular, but the air was cool and the atmosphere up there was nice.
Afterwards we went on a hunt for a blue staircase. When my best friend visited Milan a couple months ago he posted a picture sitting on them and so I wanted to find them and copy the photo! Mission accomplished? I’ll let you be the judge.
Then we met up with Brian and his friend Jenny for lunch. We all had lasagna. Yummm lasagna is the best. Afterwards we stopped at Eataly. There were so many Italian cookbooks, cheeses, pizzas, and meats. A man helped us choose a good Italian dessert wine – a Moscato wine, Moncuocco. We had to ask someone in the store to open the bottle for us since we didn’t have a wine opener.
We stopped by the Arena Civica, then the Cimitero Monumentale di Milano (a surprisingly beautiful cemetery), and then sat in a nearby park. We lounged in the grass, enjoyed our classy wine, and said arrividerci to Italy.
The food in Milan was arguably better than the city itself, but perhaps that’s just the heat talking. Ciao!