We arrived in Milan – first stop in Europe – through the quickest and possibly most informal passport control ever!
We met our driver – and he was probably the most dour Italian I’ve ever met! No hello; no smile; no handshake – what?! Anyway, the car was lovely.
You know how we might have some idea of Italians (and maybe the French) being crazy drivers – well this guy thought he was Fabrizio Barbazza! He was doing 130km/hr in no time – 145 km/hr in the 90 zone, 80 in the 50 zone – went through the toll booth (30km) at 70km/hr. He drove in the middle of two lanes to handle the bends and – apparently – in the fast lane, you just drive up the person in front’s butt until they move over – indicators not required!
Had a couple of hour nap then across the road for a cappuccino to keep us going – as we only had one day in Milan – before catching the train to Barcelona.
Milan loves books! In just three blocks there were several bookshops – lots of choice, well set up – and stationery – I love notebooks (right Tash and Lori?!). Best of all was the 4-storey bookshop across the road from our hotel (Hoepli International Bookstore) – books mostly in Italian, of course – but I was in heaven! In five minutes I had three books I wanted to walk out with but in the spirit of travelling with carry-on only, our budget (and it was only our first day in Europe) I stuck with one book and two packs of cards (need two for canasta) with Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Homo Vitruvianus (circa 1490) as the picture. I loved that positive feeling of books being loved and alive in Milan!
We set off to the Duomo (magnificent cathedral, with such amazing detail and craftsmanship) and generally wandered in and around Piazza del Duomo. We came to the Museo del Novecento and saw there was an Andy Warhol exhibition, so decided to take a look.
Had a fun moment trying really hard to get in (Uscita means exit!) and then walked and walked through this museum looking for AW and ‘only’ finding Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani and such legends. Eric and Trish, Art Barbarians, do Europe’s museums. We have no artistic taste at all – I’m going “Eric, look at the names of these artists. We should be paying attention!” Eric’s going “We don’t ‘have to’ anything – I like this one!” (He also seemed very surprised at how small the penises were – big bounteous blokes with tiny willies!)
We hurried through and thought we’d missed it, but they made it the last exhibition you had to go through and it was great! The iconic Campbell Soup prints, Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali and the 10 Jews series.
Back out in the Piazza (900 years of history) we engaged in conversation with a black African man from Senegal. He was selling children’s books (African stories) written in Italian. He didn’t have any in English. I said “no thanks, I can’t read Italian”. He said “Buy them as a souvenir of your visit”. I asked “How are African stories for children, written in Italian a souvenir of my day in Milan?” He responded with “People buy them anyway, to support me earning a living”. We bought one (maybe can donate to Esperance library?) – and as we walked away I said to Eric “Well, that was our first ‘sucked in’ experience for the trip. We’ll have to watch that!”
We had a lovely meal at a street cafe (during a thunderstorm) watching passersby – the Milanese were very fashionable. I can’t believe the heels on those girls – on cobblestones! I also loved the t-shirt ‘I love shopping’ – it looked very fashionable – and I really wanted it (even though I don’t like shopping) but Eric said “no”! 😦
The other thing that was done very well was how they covered their restoration work – instead of just ugly scaffolding and tarps – they created advertising boards with pictures of the completed product. So, for example, the part of the Duomo they were restoring had a picture of what it would look like and almost you didn’t realise they were working on it.
We had a really enjoyable few hours wandering in Milan – capped off with Eric doing a very entertaining juggling act when he slipped on wet cobblestones in his thongs, did a crazy dance and managed to not fall and also keep hold of his gelato!
Good one Eric! xx