Sarah and I spent Thursday morning visiting with my friend Rach and making last minute additions to our suitcases.
We landed at Malpensa with no problems and were even a little bit ahead of schedule. Due to some confusion though we were very late meeting Bekah and Amber. We were told to take the Malpensa Express to Milano Centrale. However, the Express doesn’t go to Milano Centrale, it goes to Cadorna. The Malpensa Shuttle goes to Milano Centrale. However, we did not know this and the ticket lady didn’t know enough English to help us figure out where we really wanted to go. So, when I said I needed a ticket to Milano Centrale, she just said, “No, Cadorna — it’s the city center.” I said, ok and promptly bought my ticket and Sarah did the same. At this point we had no concept of the geography of the city and our Italian was non-existent (it got a little better as the week went on). So, we were on the train enjoying the view and our excitement and anticipation were building. So, we finally arrived and got off the train expecting to see two smiling, friendly faces waiting for us — but they weren’t there. We walked around looking everywhere for them and then BAMM! It hit me. We weren’t at the right place. So, after some unfruitful attempts at getting directions, a nice man finally told us to get on the green line towards Gessate and get off at the Milano Centrale stop. So, we walked up and down about 10 flights of stairs with some nice Italian men helping us along the way, and finally made it to our destination. But then we couldn’t figure out where the buses were (it was a big station). Then when we found out where they were, we couldn’t find the exit to get out of the station and around to the bus stop. We eventually made it though. Amber took us to her apartment and the four of us lugged our bags up five more flights of stairs to Amber’s fifth floor apartment. 85 stairs to be exact. We had a delicious lunch of pizza and couscous and then freshened up and got the insider’s tour of Milano from Amber. We went to the Duomo first and then went through the Galleria and saw La Scala and then went to the Fashion District. We also got some delicious gelato. I got coco and cioccolato fondente — coconut and dark chocolate. It was amazing!
Above is a picture of the four of us in front of the Duomo. Amber then gave us a great tour of the inside and told us what all of they symbols meant. She also pointed out some cool Leonardo da Vinci stuff that we definitely would have missed had we been on our own.
This picture was taken at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The Milanese have an odd tradition of spinning on this mosaic bull’s balls for good luck. I was the only one who did it and I must say, I didn’t trip or fall once during the course of this trip (well, once, but it was a cute fall — more on that later:). The joke was that since Sarah didn’t spin on the bull she had bad luck.
We got back that evening and Amber made us a delicious dinner of pasta and grilled veggies with Tiramisu for dessert.
Saturday || On Saturday morning Amber and I got up and went to the photo shop to get some of her pictures developed. I was very impressed with her Italian vocabulary. After that we went back to her apartment to get Sarah to go get breakfast at the little shop next to her apartment. It was a cute little place with lots of color and full of yummy smells. The lady who worked there was so nice and we definitely saw her a couple of times while we were in Milano! We stopped in for cappuccini and shots of espresso often. The coffee was sooo good in Italy. It was strong and dark. I also loved how you don’t get it to go — you sit or stand in the bar and drink it out of a cute little cup and enjoy it slowly AND then you can go. That’s how everything was — it might take longer, but who’s in a hurry anyway? Life is meant to be enjoyed! It took at least two hours to get through lunch. Anyway, I had a cappuccino and delicious creme filled pastry. The building with the big wooden doors and the balconies is the Amber’s building and the orange awning is where the little pastry/bar is located. Bekah didn’t feel well on Saturday and Amber had lots to do in preparation for the English Movie Night she was hosting that evening. So, Sarah and I, feeling emboldened by our adventure the day before said that we could handle Milano on our own. We went to Maria della Grazie to try to buy tickets to see the Last Supper Painting, but the tours for that weekend were full, so we went on to Castello Sforzesco.
The inside of the castle is a museum, so we enjoyed seeing some Egyptian mummies and some Roman art. Quite the variety in the Castello. We had a lovely time and then headed out the back entrance to Parco Sempione.
We sat in the grass under a nice tree and enjoyed our picnic lunch of turkey wraps and Italian yogurt. We sat there for a little while and people watched, which is always a ton of fun. After that we headed back to the Duomo and got gelato and contemplated walking up the stairs to get to the top of the cathedral.
But we decided against it and went to H&M instead. We did some shopping and then headed back to Amber’s to help prepare for the movie night.
We got back and had fun cleaning and making chocolate chip cookies (Italians really aren’t that impressed with American food –now I know why–but they do really love our desserts, especially the chocolate chip cookie). We turned up the music and had a great time enjoying each other’s company and being productive at the same time.
That night we went to our first aperitivo with Michael and Simione. It was so much fun — I am officially in love with the aperitivo concept. Basically it is appetizers and a drink, but it’s so not like American Happy Hours or American bars. Totally different. I loved it. You get all you can eat appetizers (think bruschetta and polenta, prosciutto, fresh stuff…) and then a drink. This particular place was known for its Mojitos and they were really good. After that we went back to Amber’s place and watched “Keeping the Faith.” Deborah and Davide and an American nanny, Kim (from NC!) came over too. It was so much fun meeting everyone and watching the movie. We contemplated taking a night time walk to the Duomo, but decided against it since we had to get up early for church the next morning.
More to come!