The train pulled into Milan Centrale on time and after figuring out how to get out of the station and end up in the vicinity of a taxi, we were in one and on our way. First impression – Milan is a big, modern city. Very different from Roma. The apartment turned out to be close by and we arrived in less than 15 minutes. Our host, Francesca was there to greet us.
This place is a bit of change for us. It’s not in the historic city center, and it’s not on a quiet street tucked away behind some 15th century church. It’s on a major boulevard and about a 10-minute walk from the major tourist areas.
After a quick shopping trip to the local express supermarket for breakfast supplies, we loaded up and went looking for the Duomo, Milan’s famous Gothic cathedral. It wasn’t more than a few blocks away and we got there in time to take some great photos of the front, bathed in late afternoon golden sunlight. It’s an extraordinary building. Not only for its size (4th largest in the world) but for the incredible amount of decorative detail. I stopped and just stared at sections a couple of times. We didn’t stay long – dinner was on our minds since we’d skipped eating the entire day.
The restaurant culture is different here. If there are little streets with curbside cafes, we were having a challenging time finding them. We checked out a place a friend had recommended but we couldn’t quite figure out how it worked so we went on until we found a more traditional place. It seems menus with photos are the thing here, first time we’ve seen them in a long time. We chose a table ordered a couple of glasses of wine and a margherita pizza and planned our next outing.
We turned back towards the Duomo, wandered through the Victor Emmanuel shopping arcade (classic glass and iron 19th century European shopping area,) walked out past La Scala, the world-famous temple to opera and then chose a few twisty streets to explore. These neighborhoods were quiet, well-kempt and largely abandoned. Eventually we found ourselves at the Brera Art Museum (a goal for another day) and past that one street with a few cafes. File that thought for tomorrow night.
The walk back home took the form of big arc with the Duomo at the center. We sort of lucked into walking down Via Napoleone, the most well-appointed shopping street in the city. Every major fashion house plus individual stores for all the fancy watches in the universe.
From there it wasn’t far back to our home.