After the quaint life of Orta San Giulio we headed to stylist streets of the fashion capital Milan. We caught the local train down to Milano Centrale (6.5 euros - 2hrs ish) and walked to our hotel. We stayed at the Marconi, a 4-star recently renovated hotel, which was lovely and surprisingly cheap for Italy. Considering the Euro is really weak at the moment, we still found most things ridiculously expensive. Coffee was cheap though and if Italy is a country of coffee aficionados, Milan is a great place to experience the coffee culture. It’s arguably the world's greatest city for people-watching, with fashion being so important, it was great to just sip our Marocchinos and enjoy the visual pleasure.
We visited the Duomo di Milano, the Gothic cathedral that took five centuries to complete on the main square of Milan. It is the largest Gothic cathedral and the second largest Catholic cathedral in the world, so we hired a couple of audio guides to get the most out of it and set off on our tour of the cathedral. We also did the roof climb (5 Euro each using the stairs) where the views are magnificent and you get
St. Bartholomew statue
Gory 16th-century statue of St. Bartholomew carrying his skin, apparently he was skinned alive
the opportunity to see the pinnacles and sculptures close up along the way which is worth the climb alone.
We managed to meet up with our friends Penny and Alex whilst staying in Milan. Luckily their hotel was just around the corner from ours. We joined a friend of theirs, Antonella, who took us to her local restaurant that had fantastic pizza and also very cheap wine!!
Talking of food and drink, we loved the local custom of “Aperitivo,” the Milanese tradition of pre-dinner drinks accompanied by complimentary “stuzzichini,” or appetizers. One of our favourite places was Bar Brera (8 Euro) in the Brera region. The buffet was amazing and we tried to do as the Milanese do and ‘graze’………… but went crazy and had two plates loaded with food :-) Another place we enjoyed the Aperitivo was in the Navigli district where the canals—designed in 1482 by Leonardo da Vinci to import wine, food, and the marble needed to construct the Duomo—still carve through the narrow streets. We sipped our “Spritz” cocktails and soaked up the atmosphere whilst munching on buffet food. It’s quite a strange sight seeing the fashion conscious dressed to the nines, sipping cocktails
and wine whilst eating from little plastic party plates
Another quirky thing that we loved about Italy was all the different ways to flush the toilets and turn on the taps, sometimes it took a few minutes to work it out, especially after a few drinks
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