The Bosch bus drops us off at Milan Malpensa Airport. We say our goodbyes. From this point on, it’s just Jose Luis and me. I am a little sad. I hope to stay in touch with new friends.
Our plan is to hop on a train to go to Cadorna station, then take public transportation to the hotel. My perfect itinerary, however, failed to account for one little detail—the disorganization of Italians (if you are Italian and reading this, I hope 1. you are not offended and 2. you agree with me). My navigational skills are quite good. Years of getting lost has taught me to read maps and follow signs accurately. But all that means nothing when there are no signs, or worse, when the signs are wrong.
We circle the airport three times before finding the correct train. At the train station, there are no maps. When we finally locate the tram stop, there are no signs indicating directions of the stops. In the end, I remember that our hotel is west of downtown, and use the setting sun to get us on the right tram. Wow, impressive, self, impressive.
At least the tram is super cute. Having never been on a tram despite 3 trips to San Fran, I am ecstatic to finally have my first tram ride, in Milan no less!
Once we reach the hotel, JL and I get in touch with Carlo. Carlo is a fellow Lindau Meeting attendant, who graciously agreed to show us around the city. My first LNLM10 reunion!
First impression of the city—Milan feels like New York with shorter buildings. It’s busy, crowded, and filled with pedestrians. The hustle and bustle continues as the sun sets. For all these reasons, I don’t love New York. Yet in this moment, I find Milan so very charming.
First item on the agenda is to try authentic Italian cuisine. Carlo takes us to a cute family-owned restaurant. I pretend to read the menu for a few minutes and then do the smart thing of letting Carlo order for us. The food comes quickly, and it does not disappoint! You can really taste the freshness of all the ingredients, and I think that’s what makes the food so great. Then we eat several kinds of prosciutto, or cured hams. I am hesitant at first. It looks more like a plate of raw meat. But as soon as I take my first bite, I instantly love it. The flavors are excellent! The two pastas and the risotto are also delicious.
At the end of the meal, Carlo orders limonchelli and grappa—liquors traditionally served after a meal to help with digestion. Ok, this is the one thing that I do not like about Italian cuisine. Both liquors are very strong. The odd taste aside, it burns as it’s going down. And I don’t believe that it helps with digestion.
After dinner, we go on a walking tour of the city. At first it’s just a shopping district. Sure, it’s beautiful. The streets are wide and clean and filled with happy pedestrians. The shops are brightly lit, proudly featuring the hottest fashion items in their windows. And then suddenly, straight ahead of us, the Duomo peaks out. This breathtakingly beautiful gothic cathedral stands quietly in the night at the end of the bustling shopping street. We first get to the base of the back of the Duomo. The architectural details are incredible. Then Carlo takes us around to the front, but strictly forbids any peaking. We wait until getting to the center of the square in front of it before turning around for the full view. This is what I see. And my heart skips a beat. Serene, beautiful, majestic. I am speechless.
I am in love with this city.
The next day, we visited the famous mural, The Last Supper, and came back to the Duomo. In broad daylight, the Duomo is also beautiful, but it doesn’t feel magical any more. Friends, if you visit Milan, be sure to take the night tour.
Did I mention that in Italy, gelato is in its own food group? Around noon, we head back to the hotel, pick up our luggage, and hop on a bus to go to Milan Centrale. On the way there, three random strangers warn us about the thieves at the busy train station. Fortunately I pack light and have a fierce roundhouse kick.
This concludes our 24 hour whirlwind tour of Milan. Italy is lovely. <3