16 October 2017

Viva l'Italia!

Pat and I planned to be off work for the week of our fifteenth wedding anniversary and wanted to travel.  We looked at several options with Thomas Cook, but Milan was the best deal.  We really did not care where we went--we want to go everywhere!  Thus, we booked a three-night city break in Italy!

We knew little about Milan, but did some research prior to our departure.  We discovered that Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper is there, but visits have to be booked well in advance and we were too near the time to find any availability.  We found two other definite stops--Duomo di Milano, specifically to walk on the roof, and Cavallo di Leonardo--otherwise, we planned to just explore.

Our hotel was not in an area frequented by tourists, so we walked a lot until we embraced the subway system which was great!  We still walked a total of about thirty miles over three days according to Pat's Fitbit.  As a result we were able to see a lot of typical Milan, including some novel sights.  As a rule it was very clean.  In contrast, there was graffiti everywhere!  And, it was not even nice--mostly words.

Look familiar, Quincy folks?

Pasta and wine al fresco

An enormous calzone

Complimentary digestifs

Delicious, if expensive, breakfast in a nearly 200-year-old cafe

We ate dinners near the hotel out of convenience and fatigue.  However, we ate like the locals which we enjoyed.  One day, we had a glass of wine each and shared a snack in the Galleria, paying €10 per glass.  At our local restaurants, we payed €3.50 and €4.00 for a half liter and the wine was just as good.

If you are not familiar with it, here is the origin of Il Cavallo di Leonardo.

We visited Santa Maria delle Grazie hoping to catch a glimpse of The Last Supper.  Alas, no luck.

As we headed back toward the city center that day, we stopped at another church, San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, which was absolutely covered in artwork.

Not THE last supper

Notice the unicorns boarding Noah's ark

We made several stops at the central train station.  It was a gargantuan structure!

The Palazzo di Brera was actually one of our first tourist stops, but we were heading elsewhere so we just snapped a few photos and continued on our way.

Milan has a castle, so we had to visit.  It sits at one end of Parco Sempione with the Arch of Peace at the other end.

We happened upon La Scala on our first day.  It was not much to see on the outside--well, relative to some of the other buildings in Milan.  The tour might be worth a return visit actually.

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was what I expected to see in Milan, one of the world's fashion capitals.  It is the world's oldest shopping mall with stores like Prada, Rolex, Versace, etcetera.  We did not do any shopping, but it was impressive nonetheless.

Walking through the Galleria leads you to the Piazza del Duomo, bordered on the east by the cathedral.  We spent a large portion of our visit in this area, touring the cathedral inside and out, patronizing the restaurants, and hopping on the subway.

The piazza:

Inside the cathedral:

The cathedral's roof terraces:

And, from ground level:

Truly spectacular

Overall, we are happy we went, but we have no plans to return soon.  We saw what we wanted to see for the most part.  If we were to go on a tour of Italy or a regional tour, we would happily spend another day or two there, hopefully incorporating a visit to see The Last Supper, maybe La Scala.  There are so many other places to go!