I would never have picked Milan to be one of my destinations in the short period of time I spent in Italy. However, the cheapest flights to Malaga were out of Milan. So on our last day in Italy we took a train from Florence to Milan, and that’s when all my careful planning went wrong. I tried so very hard to be organized – I had looked up train schedules, printed off all directions and booking reservations of every place we were staying. Last minute I had booked a place for us to stay near the airport in Milan – but here’s what I inadvertently forgot: the Milan Malpensa airport is about an hour drive from the actual city of Milan. So when we left the train and caught a cab, he told me how far it was to go and I immediately left that taxi. Who has 100+ euros to take a taxi for an hour? Not me!
So then after spending an hour in the train station on 15 minutes of laptop battery and sketchy wireless, I figured out that if we took the train to the airport we could get picked up for free at the airport by our hotel. But that left us with the dilemma – we would have nothing to do at the hotel if we left then (around 1pm) – and we wouldn’t see anything in Milan. Even though Milan wasn’t a big draw for any of us, I still refused to go to the hotel and miss the opportunity to see an European city. We checked out luggage at the train station and ventured out into the city.
And I’m so glad I insisted on it. Because I loved Milan. Milan is a fast-paced, busy, beautiful city. We only had a few hours, so we went first to the Piazza del Duomo – absolutely beautiful, and the Duomo here is my absolute favorite structure in Italy. I love the gothic facade and the exterior. (It’s also the 4th largest cathedral in the world.) The interior was a slightly different story. It was pretty, I guess – I’m never a big fan of the interior of cathedrals to be honest. (except in Paris, I loved the Sacre Cour) And the weirdest thing – in this cathedral, they have interred many famous cardinals (if you read this before and caught my mistake… good for you – I originally wrote famous “cathedrals” instead of “cardinals”. not quite what I meant!) – in GLASS cases around the outskirts of in the interior. Yes, their faces are covered by masks – and I thought they were statues until I saw their wrinkled, dead, black hands. I nearly threw up, I was so grossed out. They also had mass going on at the same time – which to me, if I’m not planning to participate in a religious service, out of respect – I don’t want to be there! Yet, there was hundreds of people watching it from the outskirts and taking pictures. I just don’t understand.
After the Duomo we walked down the main shopping drag to the Castello Sforzesco – a castle that has been restored since severe damage during WWI, and now houses several museums. After walking through the castle and it’s courtyards, we found a park filled with residents of Milan. It was gorgeous, and we walked to the end of it to see the Arc of Peace – reminds me of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
We then returned down the main drag back to the Piazza del Duomo to catch the metro back to the train station (a few hours had elapsed by now). On the main street I saw the most awesome street performer yet- he was alone, and was playing an accordion. I normallyhate accordions, but this guy was playing complicated classical music pieces on it! Not the irritating polka music that is so commonplace. He caught my attention because he was playing one of my favorites – one of the movements from Vivaldi’s Summer. He also played a Bach piece – I can’t remember the name. But it was awesome. I even caved and tipped him – something I had not done all semester.
We also went into the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – a indoor shopping center with vaulted glass ceilings and insane decoration right next to the Piazza del Duomo. It was really pretty and reaaally expensive looking. (notice the Prada store…)
So to speed up the story, we took the train back to the airport, then spent a good 20 minutes trying to figure out how to use a payphone with my mom’s phone card (didn’t work) and then with coins (after 3 tries it worked). Then we had to figure out where to meet the shuttle — and I know for a fact that Jesus sent a taxi driver to me to help me find my way and explain everything to me… because I was just about at the end of my rope at that point.
Our hotel was nice, the guy at the reception spoke excellent English, and was very accommodating and sweet. We found a really, really cute place to eat diner – the only one open in Malpensa area (there’s literally nothing out there), and it was my favorite place we ate so far. And I ate an entire pizza. Soooo yummy.
And thankfully, that concluded our adventures in Italy because the hotel took care of us getting to the airport at the correct terminal on time and it was all uphill from there. (you can’t imagine how excited I was to fly back to Malaga the next day)