I left Germany on Friday morning to go to Milan, Italy. The trip through the Alps was spectacular. I was captivated by the aquamarine lakes, green forests and snowcapped mountains.
While the trip was long, it gave me time to sit back, relax and read. 4 trains and 6 hours later, I was in Milan’s Central Station. It was wonderful to actually be able to speak and understand the language around me! While my Italian isn’t great, I know that I can get by with what I know and have basic conversations. I got a cab (my luggage is heavy) and headed to my hostel. It wasn’t in the best part of town but it was fine. I think living in NYC for 3 years has really helped my street smarts so while the cab driver suggested I take a cab home at night, I knew that I would be fine, and also, my honed sense of how to ignore beggars and people handing out flyers came in great use while walking around. Yay for my NYU education!
The hostel was really nice and clean. I wish they had an elevator but that’s ok, it was a great workout pulling my suitcase up 2 flights of stairs. The owners of the hostel were really friendly and helpful in figuring out where to go and what to do, and even helped me practice my Italian! I decided to walk to the duomo, only 3 km, down a street with lots of shops. It was basically like Broadway in Soho. I was really hungry so I stopped for some real Italian gelato. O M G sooooo good. I got After Eight (Mint Chocolate Chip, it was green, meaning that it is the best) and chocolate.
Along the way to the duomo I passed a beautiful palace in a public park. The park reminded me of Central Park with it’s vast open spaces, children playing and museums (in the palace and other buildings in the park). I kept thinking that the duomo must be nearby but i couldn’t see it. Finally I came closer to the center of town, with older buildings and tons of fancy stores. Finally, I saw the steeple and walked towards it. The cathedral was GORGEOUS! I’m in love. I spent most of my time near the duomo because 1. it was beautiful 2. there was a lot to do and 3. I knew where I was. The inside was spectacular, unfortunately most of my interior pictures are blurry but there were a ton of confessionals-something I never really remember seeing in the US, a beautiful organ with painted panels and detailed stone columns. The outside was a beautiful pinkish marble that looked amazing in every light.
I then walked around around the duomo area and came across a protest about the government, more stores, cannolis, and the castello (castle). The castello was beautiful and giant! There are a bunch of museums in there but it was near the end of the day so I didn’t go to any of them. I really liked seeing the construction of how they used to protect the city, there was a giant moat around it and really cool doors to fortify the castle.
I sat near a fountain outside for awhile and watched this random promotion for a Spam-like food where people at a table ate the food suspended from a crane. I walked back towards the duomo, attempted to find some restaurant in another neighborhood suggested by a friend but was a little confused so I went back towards the duomo and ate a restaurant near the Galleria, next to the duomo. It was modestly priced, especially for the location, and a got a TON of wine for 3 euros that I could not finish for the life of me, delicious bread and gnocchi. I walked around a little more and then headed back to my hostel to go to sleep before going to Florence! I really liked Milan. It was an urban city for sure but the old part was gorgeous and echoed the history of the city. It’s funny to see these old buildings and palaces turned into modern stores for today’s consumption. I wish that I had gotten into town a few hours earlier, because I had bought a ticket to see the Last Supper before I bought my train ticket. I got into town 2 hours after my reservation, meaning that I couldn’t use my reservation. So I want to go back to see that for sure.