After our little coastal getaway, B and I took the three hour train ride to Milan on Saturday afternoon, where we would fly home to the next afternoon. Despite not knowing much about the fashionable city of Milan except for its high end shopping and ultra cool residents, I was still keen to check out a new city.
We arrived into Milano Centrale Stazione at around 6pm. Being the last day in spring, the sun was still high in the sky so we had some time to get our bearings on the city. We caught the Metro from the train station to Piazza Del Duomo, where we were greeted with the most astonishing view as we went up the escalator. Right in front of us was the huge, Gothic inspired cathedral better known as the Duomo. This incredible building, made of white marble consists of hundreds of spires and thousands of statues on its exterior. It took over six centuries to build – beginning in 1386 and is the fifth largest cathedral in the world. In 1805 after he ordered the facade to be finished, Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned King of Italy at this very cathedral. I’ve said before that Budapest’s Parliament House is the Morgan Freeman of architecture. This fine looking building has to be George Clooney. This silver fox of cathedrals is impossibly good looking and chic. It would definitely top the Most Sexiest award, if there was one for buildings. Right next to the Duomo is the glamorous shopping centre called the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele III, which is the worlds oldest shopping centre. This beautiful building with its intricate mosaic floor and glass roof houses some of the famous brands which I doubt I’ll ever be able to afford. Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada are just some of these brands in the Galleria. It’s what the Champs Elysee would look like if it was placed in a 19th century palace. Realising the time, we dodged the hundreds of pigeons and tourists and made a beeline for our hotel. With some rough directions and of course another gelato we managed to find our hotel with only one wrong turn. My Bed Hotel located on the long street of Corso Di Porta Ticinese, only 10 minutes walk from Piazza Del Duomo was a beautiful little place with picture perfect views of the Basilica di San Lorenzo. We settled in and freshened up before heading out again to see a bit more of the city.
We headed towards the funky area of Navigli, which was a short walk away. Bars, cafes and restaurants lined the canals whose water glimmered in the fading sunlight. We wandered through the area taking everything in and watching the locals enjoy aperitivo, which is the Italian version of happy hour. There was an abundance of places to choose and it took us a good hour to decide on a dinner spot. Premiata Pizzeria was our choice and I’m ever so glad it was. We were seated on the second floor of the busy restaurant and began to studying the long list of pizzas available. All wood fired, we were drooling as waiters rushed around carrying several pizzas to hungry diners. I opted for one topped with fresh tomatoes, rucola, mozzarella and parma ham and B had his with tomato, mozzarella, mushrooms and tuna, as well as a pasta – just because we hadn’t eaten much pasta this trip. Sharing a few glasses of white wine, we demolished our dinner quickly. All I can say about these pizzas is foodgasm. It was like eating heaven topped with paradise. I’ve chowed down on pizza in other Italian cities such as Rome, Florence and Venice but this pizza definitely takes the cake. Stuffed like pumpkins, we practically rolled out of the restaurant but to keep with tradition we made a little extra room for another gelato.
I think I need to emphasis the amazing-ness of Italian gelato. I don’t think there is even an appropriate way to describe the gelato, but here goes. It’s like baby angel’s whipped up creamy deliciousness with their golden hands and God blessed the creation, deeming it the greatest thing to land on this earth. With the risk of that being taken totally the wrong way, I’m about as obsessed with Italian gelato as I am with sloths. So far I’d tried various types of pistachio, coconut, strawberry, dark chocolate, caramelised fig, Nutella, Ferraro Rocher, salted peanut and hazelnut just to name a few. I’m not even ashamed to say that that list is probably only half of what I ate in this four day trip. Aaaanyway, back to the story. After our gelato’s (dark chocolate and strawberry – magnifico!) we literally couldn’t move. Waddling back to our hotel we passed out in a food coma, not even kept awake by the rather loud noise from the bars and clubs that surrounded our hotel.
The next morning, our final morning I woke up with the sun and watched it rise over the Basilica di San Lorenzo. The streets were empty and the air was cool, which was a very serene way to welcome the day. I hustled B out of bed and we got moving to see as much as we could in five hours. Our numero uno stop was to climb up to the terrace of the Duomo but first, breakfast. Still slightly full from last night’s indulging, we shared a panini and had our daily coffee. B went all out and ordered a Nutella coffee, which is pretty much an espresso shot smothered in Nutella. He dug it. I stuck with my cappuccino. Typical tourists as we are, instead of standing at the bar like locals, we sat in the tables on the street. Lovely way to enjoy breakfast, not so lovely on the pocket. Almost double the price, our small breakfast cost more than our train fare to the airport!
We wandered down to the Duomo, which was packed with tourists despite being Sunday and still early. Joining the line to enter the Duomo, I almost didn’t make it in with my short skirt – so risqué, they didn’t mind my thongs though – we entered the grand cathedral and I was taken aback at the beauty of it. Somewhat similar to the Notre Dame, the high ceilings and stained glass windows were almost spooky as the sound of the organ echoed throughout the building. I’ve definitely gotten a new appreciation of churches since moving to Europe. The detail and designs are magical and its hard to believe such beauty can exist within stone walls. We walked back outside the cathedral to where the entrance of the terrace was. 7 euros and about 200 steps later we were standing high above Piazza Del Duomo. The statues and carvings that made up the Duomo were even more beautiful up closer and the view of the city was perfect under the bright blue sky. Ticking another thing off my bucket list – I should just call it my Pinterest list – I was stoked to have seen something I’ve looked at for so long on my computer.
We went back down the stairs towards the Galleria Vittoria Emanuele where the grand shopping centre made us feel tiny with its high glass roof and beautiful window displays. We continued on through to the La Scala Opera House, watching the old style trams (or better known as streetcars) rattle past. Deciding it was definitely gelato o’clock we found a small shop to satisfy our cravings and somehow we ended up on Via Montenapoleone. One of the richest streets in Milan, I definitely felt like hobo as we passed Armani, Hermès, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent just to name a few. With time ticking faster than it takes to down an espresso, we hightailed it back towards our hotel to grab out bags and have one final slice of pizza and gelato before heading back to the airport.
My second time in the boot shaped country was nothing but perfect and I was sad to leave. I had witnessed so many beautiful things and eaten so much delicious food in such a short time. Flying into Holland, the usual travel blues kicked in. I can only recommend that a visit to Italy at least once in your life is essential. Their country, their food and their hospitality is incredible and its so very easy to fall in love with. The Italian life is truly la dolce vita.
From the girl who will never eaten pizza again. Until she’s back in Italy, or its whilst watching the State of Origin.