"" Writer's Wanderings: 18 Days Through Europe in an Audi - Milan. Italy

Monday, November 08, 2010

18 Days Through Europe in an Audi - Milan. Italy

Milan was a little more than an hour down the highway from Verona. We found the exit and managed the directions for a while but traffic became heavy in city streets and we passed the street we were looking for. When we tried to turn around, a traffic cop wouldn't let us down the street we needed to take. Between her crazy signals, our confusion, and rush hour traffic we found ourselves in quite a mess.

Motor scooters started whipping around us and horns started blowing. Bob got us into the flow of traffic which was moving at a good clip and did a few more turns trying to get back to the direction we were supposed to go. In a phrase, it was "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride." We finally pulled over. I think Bob wanted to stop the screaming. Finding ourselves in front of a hotel (not ours) we sent Dick in for directions. The desk clerk spoke perfect English, had a great map and gave wonderful directions (so much easier than those gas station stops!). We were only a couple blocks from where we needed to be and found the Best Western Hotel Blaise and Francis in a few minutes.

It was a very nice hotel but was about a 15 minute walk through a neighborhood where we truly stuck out as tourists. Given the world political situation, I was a little uncomfortable returning at dusk. Once we were at the subway station, it was not difficult to find our destination and buy our ticket. We exited at the Monte-Napoleone station as the desk clerk had suggested to walk to the Piazza del Duomo. While there were nice stores and shops along the way, most were closing down for the day.

We found the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, a huge glass domed shopping mall with upscale shops, bistros, and cafes and walked through it to the other side which opened onto the Piazza. Before us loomed the huge Duomo (cathedral). Frommer describes it as "lacy". It is that. There are spires and arches and statues and intricate carvings all working together to create a light airy feeling for a massive structure. We promised to give ourselves the better part of the next day to explore it.

We returned to the Galleria to one of the "sidewalk" cafes inside to eat. Polly had heard of a special Milan risotto and we ordered a plate of it to taste. It is a risotto flavored with saffron and a bit of Parmesan. Good but not outstanding was our take. Wonder if it was just not prepared right?

The world soccer finals were being played and as we exited the Galleria to go to the subway, we noticed the crowd beginning to gather in front of a large TV screen set up in the square. Young people wrapped in Italian flags were already beginning to celebrate their team. Looking to glimpse another culture, we opted to get some ice cream (gelato) and find a place on the cathedral steps to watch some of the festivities. Keeping in mind that Europeans in general are very emotional about their soccer, we agreed to split at the first sign of over-enthusiasm. By the time the game was ready to start, we were ready to call it a night and we exited the square and the sports enthusiasts' crowd by way of the Duomo station.

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