A successful trip to Milan today. What a great city.
Pulling in by train didn’t overly inspire and so our expectations were low. We’ve become fairly familiar with train travel now and know that you will always be asked to produce your ticket at some point. This was the first journey where we traveled into a different country so we knew to expect something different. Indeed, once in Italy, some pretty buff, unfriendly looking border guards hop on, packing heat, doing a spot check for passports. Both on the way there and back Manolo and I were completely skipped over. So disappointing.
The first impression of the station isn’t the same as a grand place like Zurich. And then you round the corner. Ok, here we go! Grand is most definitely how you would describe it and the expectation that comes from arriving in the fashion capital of the world was met. All other stations we’ve experienced have had similar newspaper and cigarette kiosks, an overpriced Cafe. In Milan the first stores you see are Sephora, MAC, etc. and large Vogue billboards. Fun!!
We set out to head directly to the Swiss consulate knowing how seriously they take their lunch breaks. The visa pick up was easy-peasy, they seemed quite delighted that I was there. Me too! But I was less delighted to be told that this is just the latest step in the pursuit of the visa. I now need to return to Zurich for the actual permission to stay and work. More hoops to jump through and I will oblige.
So, with that taken care of we set off to explore. In fairly short order we found ourselves in the very exclusive shopping district. Shops we have no business shopping in. So over the top it is worth a giggle. While each “house” was unique, they were allthe same in two ways…the presence of a security guard either out front or right inside the shop door. And shop girls who looked miserable. I anticipate it has something to do with the fact that they likely haven’t had a sandwhich since 1987. I’d be pretty miserable too!
The fancy in this town is sure impressive. How much money do you have to have before you stop checking price tags, when does $1,400 EU seems reasonable for a pair of high waisted, floral flowy pants you wouldn’t be caught dead in next season? Watching families come & go here was so entertaining. Just imagining the dynamic, the story. We were in the presence of heirs & heiresses for sure.
I did catch a glimpse of the next trend ladies. I’m no trend setter but I’m feeling pretty confident when I say this one will be fleeting so no need to adjust your wardrobe. Socks with heels. I kid you not…
Once we were confident that we had strolled sufficiently away from the tony part of town we looked for a piazza restaurant for a wine and a view. All seats at the restaurants face outwards, towards the promenade. The people watching is spectacular. I could have sat there all day.
While the needle on the fancy scale was generally high, there were a few moments in contrast to this. Did we know that Italians don’t believe in toilet seats? At first I thought I had just found a dodgy one but after a few other visits it is clear the toilets are designed without seats. I’m really not entirely sure how I feel about it…they clearly expect you to sit on it. And is there anything that bad about that? Is the seat that much cleaner? Still, it’s odd. I will confess though that the cold porcelain does feel like a little bit of heaven on a hot day. Maybe the Italians are smarter that we thought.
Also, once we had our wine in front of us and our plate of prosciutto ordered the server brought out ugly, thin paper placemats and packages of cutlery wrapped in plastic. Nothing like bringing the diner vibe to the classy restaurant.
Upon further exploration of Milan we discovered that it is pretty darn amazing. As a geography major I am embarrassed by how little I knew of Milan and it’s architecture and history. I’ll chalk it up to my non-Catholic upbringing but the Duomo was a complete surprise to me. Laregest cathedral in Italy, third largest in Europe. Built out of marble, rather than traditional brick beginning in the 1300s. Wow. Canada is such a baby. The history here is mind boggling.
According to the numbers here, Catholicism is alive and well. The new generations and the old. Quite something to be a part of. And yet, mixed into this very holy presence was a noticeable police presence too.
After any time spent in the presence of such holiness, the obvious next step is the gelato shop.
And lastly a few more of the sights we saw while wandering.