When I woke up this morning there was most definitely a change in the air; the brain-meltingly stifling heat had turned into a cool wind and torrential rain. It desperately needed because the past month had been consistent temperatures over 35 degrees but why did have to happen on the day that I had to drag my stupidly heavy suitcase across two cities? I’m starting my move to Slovakia today, because I’m cheap and crazy I decided that it was a great idea to get the night train from Milan to Bratislava. This required me first to go to Milan. To be perfectly honest I’ve never been that keen on going to Milan. Everyone in the south of Italy had poisoned my mind against it, “Why would you want to go to Milan when you live in Napoli, Kate? They are so cold up there”. And they really weren’t kidding. After arriving in Milan, I was buying a metro ticket and a seemingly helpful man came up to me and told me to get the 24-hr ticket. I had everything under control so I thanked him and went on with the ticket buying process. 15 seconds later he returned and told me where the money went (I got it buddy, the money goes where the money sign is). He stood there as I put the money in the slot and as I reached to get the ticket he pushed my hand out of the way and grabbed the ticket to hand to me…meanwhile palming the change. As he started to walk away, I started to yell at him in Italian that it was my money. He handed it back finally but not after telling me unceremoniously to ‘Go fuck myself’. That’s a good start to a stay in any city I think.
I stayed in the wonderfully named Hostel Colours. It looks like it was an old factory or workshop of some kind from the random bits of machinery and chains hanging from the I-beams in the ceiling. It has a huge central common area which is divided up into a few different areas and levels. There is a small bar which I never saw open, a huge dining area and a communal kitchen. The bad point, or maybe not bad point but a point about the common areas are the industrial sized speakers pumping out random dance music and the constantly flashing disco lights. It really doesn’t fit with the kind of chilled out vibe of the place. No one there seemed like hard core partiers.
I ventured out into the city despite the threat of the heavens opening up at any minute. I couldn’t go to Milan and just stay in the hostel bad feelings towards the city or not. I’d asked the Chilean things to do in Milan and he said, “The Duomo.” Really!!??!! That’s it…the Duomo? “Oh, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele” …..which is across the road from the Duomo. Okay, I had a list of two things to do in Milan. I got off the metro at Duomo and like it says on the can, the Duomo is right across the street. It’s pretty impressive actually. Number one, it’s huge. Number 2, it’s really ornately carved. Every spot has detail on it. Feeling the pitter-patter of raindrops on my head I decided to seek shelter like so many before me in the House of the Lord. You’d think that a simple line to buy tickets would be easy but of courses it’s Italy so nothing is quite as easy as it seems. I swear they do it on purpose so they can gossip about it later. It was getting a little bit late in the day and I guess some of the ticket sellers wanted to go home so one of the staff became the designated line closer. Again you’d think that it would be simple to close a line, you put a sign out saying, ‘line closed. Please buy tickets at blah blah blah’, but this is a tourist attraction so it’s not that simple. This poor guy had his work cut out for him running after every errant Tom, Dick, and Harry who tried to sneak into the line. He started off quite politely rebuking people from the line, “I’m sorry. The line is closed. You can buy tickets at the museum” but quickly descended into frustration, “NEVER! NEVER! MOVE THE SIGN! NEVER CROSS THE CLOSED SIGN”. Sadly, I never got to see this gong show to the end because it finally was my turn to buy tickets and enter the Duomo. When I finally escaped the rain and got inside, my wait was worth it. It’s a huge space inside but it’s exactly what you think it is going to be like, it’s a huge ornate church. I managed to get about halfway through before religious police started rounding all the sightseers up and pushing them (metaphorically) towards the doors. Apparently, was almost time for Mass and gawkers were not allowed. Disappointment with Milan 2- Kate-0. When I was ushered outside, the rain had started up again and I looked for the nearest cover which was the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele across the piazza. There is an almost identical one in Naples, with the same ridiculously expensive stores. The difference in Milan is that there is a legend attached to a certain bull placed into the mosaic floor and it says that if you turn right on your heel three times you will have good luck. Sadly, I didn’t do it because I was in a foul mood and it was surrounded with happy groups of friends and families. I went to leave the Galleria and the rain had not subsided any so I cut my losses and went back to chill at the hostel.
I awoke to bright sunshine and tweeting birdies the next morning so took this as my sign that I should get out of bed and go start my day. I’d spotted a castle the day before but was deterred by the rain. I went back and Castello Sforzesco is the perfect ‘free’ antidote to Milan’s overpriced attractions. I say ‘free’ because the main buildings grounds of the castle are free to walk around but to enter any of the museums or exhibitions costs extra. I recommend getting there early in the day because I was one of only 50 people but by the time I’d finished the tour buses had started rolling in and the crowds came with them. There is also a huge park behind the castle that I sat and read my book in for an hour or so as a nice break from the heat. I have a few friends that have lived in Milan over the years so with a Facebook appeal, I asked what else can I do? Porta Genova was the response. It’s the restaurant/bar/up and coming hipster area of Milan. It’s also home to Milan’s canals. Hand on my heart, I had NO IDEA that Milan had canals before I went there. They are pretty neat and it adds a completely different flavour to the city. Talking about flavour, I had lunch at a little place called Le Striatelle di Nonna Mafalda . As far as I can tell (or explain) a striatella is like an Italian quesadilla. You have a flatbread with stuff inside and it’s pressed under a grill. I had one with Speck and brie and it was delicious. For the striatella and a local craft beer, it only cost around 10 Euros. I decided to walk off lunch around the canals but the heat proved too much for me. I found a spot in the shade on the side of the canal and read my book…and maybe had a small nap on the randomly placed Astroturf.
So that was Milan. Hmmmm….
Peace K xx