After 23 hours of flying via Singapore and London, we arrived in Milano at 1045, Friday morning and caught a taxi to our hotel. We got out of the taxi to the sounds of much “yelling and screaming”; a local was having a heated discussion with someone on the telephone outside of our Hotel, I didn’t need a translator to realise this guy was annoyed to say the least. This, on top of the 60 km taxi ride from the airport where our driver “Juan Manuel Fangio” talked on his mobile phone while weaving in and out of traffic, no indicators, (hands busy holding the phone!) speed limit signs were treated as the lower speed at which you travelled! All this and a bit of tailgating thrown in, “Welcome to Milano”!
After we checked in, the plan was too have a couple of hours sleep to recover. After about an hour of tossing and turning, we gave up on the sleep and left the hotel to discover Milan. Our hotel was about 1.6 kms from the main central area of Milan. We walked through several parks before arriving in the centre of town. There are a lot of fairly large parks dotted around the city and are used by the Milanese for all sorts of recreational activities.
The population of the city proper is about 1.3 million, the greater urban area has an estimated population of 4.3 million and is the 5th largest in the EU. Milan is the capitol of Lombardy as well as the Province of Milan. It is the main industrial, commercial and financial centre of Italy. The Italian Stock Exchange is based in the city along with the headquarters of the large national banks and multinational companies. The city is recognised as the major fashion and design capitol.
After a short look around some of the shopping malls we came upon the Piazza del Duomo, the city’s main and most central square, which is surrounded by some amazing buildings such as, the Milan Cathedral and the Royal Palace of Milan. We headed back to our hotel and retreated to the bar to replenish our fluid levels, followed by dinner, the pasta was fantastic!
Saturday was spent discovering more of this wonderful city and having the odd “Espresso” along the way. We visited the Cathedral (Duomo) and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelel II, La Scala and Castello Sforzesco before heading further out of the city area through Sempione Park to the Arch of Peace, which reminded me of a miniature version of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. In the afternoon Barbara went to a modern art exhibition in the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in the Palazzo Real, while I walked around in the summer heat getting sunburnt and taking photos. Going back to the hotel we walked through lots of beautiful streets and did lots of window-shopping. (The budget is still intact!) We went back to our hotel for more ‘happy hour’ drinks and then out to a great restaurant for a delicious dinner.
Sunday we headed to the train station and caught the train to Como with the intention of catching the ferry or hydrofoil around Laga di Como, have a brief stopover for lunch at Bellagio and maybe go and visit George Clooney for a “Nespresso”, unfortunately our plans were thrown into disarray as the people operating all the lake vessels were on strike, so George will have to wait! Instead, we caught the Funicular to the top of the mountain, then, continued on foot, another steep 2km to the summit to see the Volta Lighthouse. The building is named after Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the battery, who was born in Como. We had lunch at the top of the mountain overlooking Como, the lake and surrounding mountains. Once again, the pasta was fantastic! After the long and steep walk to the bottom we visited a local bar and sampled their product, ‘unpasteurised’ beer and white wine, very nice! We think this might be organic rather than unpasteurised – either way it was excellent, especially after the walk.
After coming down the Funicular into Como we headed to the train station. Unfortunately we got a bit lost and walked a lot further than we had too. We finally found a person to ask for directions – had to be someone from Switzerland who was in Como visiting his mother. He rescued us and took us to the station.
For dinner that night we had planned to have Pizza, and went to a restaurant which we thought was the pizzeria we had walked past earlier – another wrong turn, which turned out for the best – restaurant was a vegan organic middle eastern cuisine, so we had a great meal and certainly got our 5 serves in for the day!!
After spending 3 wonderful days in Milan, on Monday morning we caught the train, a little less jet-lagged and more rested, onto Florence and our favourite Hotel, ‘El Torre Guelfa’.
Lance and Barbara