Published: May 31st 2012May 30th 2012
Today we left the lovely Torri in sabina for Florence, Milan and Paris. We got an early start and hugged Geoff goodbye until we'll be seeing him in Paris on Friday.
The drive back to Florence to return the rental car and catch the train to Milan was mostly uneventful, though our attempts to avoid tolls was thwarted by the fact that those routes would be so much longer. Tolls are a little scary here, the first step is the first toll, where you have to go to the correct lane to get a ticket. Then you hold on to the ticket until the next toll station, where you hand it to a surly person and pay. And of course, we were slowed down by having to get brie and ham baguettes from the wonderful rest stops. After returning the car, we walked three blocks to the train station and got tickets for the 12:50 train to Milan. The train was extremely comfortable, and I slept almost the whole way, waking up for the complementary beverage and cookies, of course.
In Milan we deposited our bags at the train station, which is a great service. 5 euros per bag
to start, then 0.7 euros per hour until 13 hours, then 0.5 euros per hour after that, up to five days. Rid of our bags, we took a trolley to the duomo, or main cathedral. I dressed today in clothes I could sleep in on the train, which consists basically of lulu lemon pants, top, and long sleeved zip up. It was 28 degrees in Milan, and I was boiling. I was also not wearing contacts because I don't like to wear them when I nap because they get gummy, so I couldn't wear my sunglasses. Squinting and sweating I approached the great duomo with my parents. It really defies adjectives, but unlike st. Peter's photos can help to do it justice because a lot of the awe is drawn from how incredibly detailed the cathedral is on the outside. We paid 7 euros each to climb to the roof, and this was much more civilized than the duomo in Florence. The view from up there was spectacular,and it's very cool that they designed it in such a way that it's easy to walk around the different levels of the roof, there being no dome in this case. The spire
of the cathedral has been undergoing restoration for three years, and it is anticipated to be another three before it is finished. This means it's covered in scaffolding of incredible complexity, and there are workers literally laying around working on minute details. But what IS the duomo? It is defined thusly: The largest and most important example of Gothic architecture in Italy, the Duomo, Milan's Cathedral, is the fourth largest cathedral in the world after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the Cathedral of Seville and a new cathedral in the Ivory Coast. Built between 1386 and 1577, it hosts the world's largest collection of marble statues with the widely visible golden Madonna statue on top of the spire, nicknamed by the people of Milan as Madunina (the little Madonna), that became one of the symbols of the city.
After experiencing the duomo, it was off to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, believed to be the world's first mall. It is defined thusly: The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a double arcade in the center of Milan, Italy. The structure is formed by two glass-vaulted arcades intersecting in an octagon covering the street connecting Piazza del Duomo to Piazza
della Scala. The Galleria is named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. It was originally designed in 1861 and built by Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877. The street is covered by an arching glass and cast iron roof, a popular design for nineteenth-century arcades, such as the Burlington Arcade in London, which was the prototype for larger glazed shopping arcades, beginning with the Saint-Hubert Gallery in Brussels (opened in 1847), the Passazh in St Petersburg (opened in 1848), the Galleria Umberto I in Naples (opened in 1890) and the Budapest Galleria. The central octagonal space is topped with a glass dome. The Milanese Galleria was larger in scale than its predecessors and was an important step in the evolution of the modern glazed and enclosed shopping mall, of which it was the direct progenitor. It has inspired the use of the term galleria for many other shopping arcades and malls. In the central mosaic there is a depiction of the bull from Turin Coat of Arms. The tradition tells that if a person put its right heel on the bull's genitals and turn on himself three times, this will bring good luck. This
practice causes damage to the mosaic: a hole developed on the place of the bull's genitals. If that doesn't spark the appetite, I don't know what would.
We staked out a spot in a great cafe and had several spritzes each and all the potato chips, puff pastries and olives that came with them. The people watching was excellent and included what my mother referred to as "a pilgrim". Pilgrim is then clearly a term for a crazy lady in a sac and no shoes hollering at the crowd.
We took the metro back to the train station to wait for our 11:38 overnight train to Paris. My mother spent the time sitting in a chair in front of the screens displaying at which platform (or binario) the train would depart. Ours wasn't listed yet, and my mother rocked back and forth and whispered, "come oooon, binario", until god obliged her for going to all those churches and brought our train in at binario number nine.
Upon entering our room on the train, my parents were aghast that there seemed to be only two single beds hanging from the wall. Before long we figured out that a
third bed could be released from the wall and creat a tiny coffin sized area for the middle bed. We have a crazy little sink and vanity that came with a cute little toiletries set, and want turned out upon first use to be a toilet seat cover rather than kleenex. One can take one's slightly mucousy toilet seat to the washroom down the hall.
Now we're rumbling away towards Paris, my mother on top, me in the middle, dad on the bottom. We went in order of weight in case it all collapsed. We've rented an apartment in Paris for a week, but unfortunately today we got an email saying the apartment had filled with water. Fortunately the landlords have found a suitable alternative. Hopefully I will wake up tomorrow morning and my mother's bunk won't have squished me into a Marycrepe in the night.
There are more photos below