A Travellerspoint blog

Milano

First, I want to say a little something about Paris CDG airport, as I had a short layover there.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">Apparently, they don't have lots of early-morning flights, because when we arrived, we had to wait both at immigration and security for them to get their equipment together and start service.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">When I got to my departure gate, there were a couple of choices for breakfast. One cafe had French Toast, which would have been cool, except that one piece was 4.5 euro (about $5). Duty-free had a wheel of camembert that was about the same size as the piece of french toast, and was the same price. So yes, I ate a whole wheel of camembert for breakfast because it was slightly cheaper than a fancy piece of bread. Viva France!<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">I tried to stay awake to see Paris from the air, but as it took more than 2 minutes from when I got on the plane to when we took off, that didn't happen. However, I did wake up a little bit before Milan and got to see the alps from the air, which was quite the view.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">Upon arriving in Milan, I went to the atm to get money, but one of my cards was expired (oops) and the other didn't work (crap). I would have been so better of exchanging cash anywhere else, including every other airport I've ever been in. The exchange rate there was horrible (like 15%) worse than elsewhere I saw today, they took double the usual commission, and then the lady had the gall to offer me a map like it was free and then try to charge me 2 euro for it, as if there wasn't a place with free maps only a few meters away. I was extremely unhappy with my experience, but I didn't really have any choice at that point.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">After that debacle, I headed over to get a bus ticket from the airport to the central station and a FREE map.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">The bus is a nice, comfy coach bus and the route allows you to see some of the city that you probably wouldn't otherwise see as there are no touristy things there. It dropped me right at the central station, which has metro access to the rest of the city, but more importantly, has luggage storage.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"> After leaving my stuff, I took the metro to the Duomo, which is the big sight to see. For 7 euros, you can climb 167 stairs to the roof. (Or, you can pay another 5 to take the elevator.) Either way, there are more stairs to get around the roof.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"> Once there, I had a great view of the city, the spires, and the restoration project.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">I was surprised at the view of the city because, despite having climbed all those stairs, I didn't feel quite so high up. But I could see for miles from there!<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">The spires are incredible. Each one has a statue at the top that must have taken an artist a long time to carve, and it feels like there are hundreds. Plus, each butress and each doorway, every handrail and window was covered in carvings or statues that were intricate. The roof was like its own sculpture garden with thousands of old sculptures.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">At the very top, they also added some modern sculptures, which look pretty new.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">They also are renewing the rest of the duomo. There are large advertisements covering the scaffolding in some areas, which I think is tacky, but I guess when you sponsor such a large renovation, you get to live on in people's vacation pictures forever. <br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">The area where they're replacing the stone is pretty obvious as the color is fresher and the lines cleaner. It feels sort of like cheating, but I suppose in a hundred years it will be just as faded.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"> In the plaza by the duomo, I got assaulted by some guy with string bracelets. He rudely grabbed my wrist and started putting one on, so I pulled back and threw his bracelet back at him. I know this trick- they tie it on you and then say you owe them money for it. *Alternately, their friend pickpockets you while you deal with them. I tried to leave and he kept insisting that it was free and trying to put it on me. I shouldn't have let him, but I finally did. As soon as it was on, he wanted "money for Africa, waka waka Africa." I walked away. The only good thing to come from this was that the rest of the day, whenever somebody else tried to pull the same crap, I just raised my wrist to show I already had. As soon as I walked away, some other guy who was surrounded by his bird friends put corn into my hand. The birds started coming at me, as I'm sure they know the drill. I threw that corn on the ground so fast. I do NOT want germy birds all over me. I left that place so fast he didn't even have time to ask me to pay for the corn. I'm sorry if I have a skeptical view of humanity, but you don't just assault people with stuff if you're not trying to run a scam. You offer, like all the nice guys trying to sell selfie-sticks. You give people space and a chance to respond to you. Anyway... <br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">After the Duomo roof, I walked around the area. It is the big "expensive store" shopping area, so it didn't have many places to eat, much less reasonably-priced or interesting places. It was pretty and fancy though. The irony of having signs and flags for the upcoming Milan expo (theme: feeding the world) juxtaposed with shoes whose cost could feed a family for a year was not lost on me.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">Eventually, I found a little cafe/bar calle d Passarella that had a few local-looking people eating good-looking food. The artichoke pizza looked delicious, and I had just climbed a lot, so I decided that this was an appropriate time to have a whole pizza all by myself.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">I don't know how the Italians do it. Thin crust pizza in the states is generally no good, in my opinion. It tends to be too crispy or too soggy or too greasy. Here, the pizza was thin, but chewy. It stood up to the sauce and toppings, but was soft. I still think that the pizza I got at the fish market in Naples years ago is the best pizza I've ever had, but this wasn't so far behind.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">When I went to pay, I used my credit card, but then asked to make some change for a tip. The guy at the register wouldn't take my money and change it for a tip. I kept insisting that I needed to tip, and he insisted that they don't do that, so I just left. I felt so weird not tipping though.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">I wandered around a bit after and eventually headed back into the Duomo, this time, into the main chapel. The inside is pretty standard for a catholic cathedral- vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, a huge organ. If you've been to one before, the inside of this one wasn't any different. What was interesting is that down below, they keep the body of a saint. You can only really see his mask and clothing, but its still cool that they have that much on display. The other thing this particular cathedral is famous for is a statue near the exit. Some saint got flayed and is standing there, bare to the muscles, holding his skin like he just doesn't care.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">I guess I ate too early, because when I was done with the cathedral, it was still time for the Italian afternoon break. I found a park to sit in alongside dozens of Italians who were enjoying their lunches or a chat.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">I'm not so good at sitting, and the church I wanted to see was still closed, so I checked out a supermarket to see if they had anything interesting. Not really.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"> But, when I came out, it was time for San Stefano to be open. The entrance is free, but they have boxes where you can put in .5 euro or whatever you want. It's worth it. I actually liked this church better than the cathedral because it was different. The walls of the main chapel were bright and painted with scenes. Plus, they've got an ossuary room. I find those soooo fascinating. I love the way people saved space in graveyards and honored the dead by allowing them to be part of something beautiful at the same time.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">From there, I walked over to the castle area. The castle is open to the public for free, but just to walk through the external part. That's kind of neat to do, but the outside of the castle isn't super-spectacular.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">There is a big park on the other side though. Apparently, this is where all of Milan is on Wednesday afternoon. There were a ton of 20-somethings in bikinis (women) or just swim trunks (men) sunbathing on towels. I guess this is as close to the beach as they have here.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">I spent a while on a bench people-watching and trying to be "Milanese" until I just kind of ended up taking a nap on a park bench.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">Fully refreshed, and with plenty of time until my train, I went back to the castle to check out the (paid) museum part. It's priced about right considering half of the stuff was under renovation or closed. Of the stuff that was open, a lot of it was Roman and Renaissance religious art and portraiture, which isn't my thing. There was an interesting display on furniture through the ages, some really cool armor and swords, and a display on musical instruments that would have been infinitely better if we could hear at least a recording of what they sound like. The dishes/silverware exhibit got me the most excited because they had some Murano glass, which gets me excited for Venice! I also really enjoyed a section on illuminated manuscripts, although at the time I was thinking that it was a lot of stairs to climb for one room. The one thing I can say they excelled at is that every room and section had papers in multiple languages so I always knew what was going on. They had a lot of stuff, so that was pretty helpful.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">I decided to walk back to the train station through the Plazza Republica, but that turned out to be really nothing. I wanted to have pasta for dinner since I had pizza for lunch, but that was surprisingly hard to find at the train station. Every place had sandwiches and quesadillas, but pasta was just not on the general menu. I did, eventually, find some, and it was ok.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">A couple of logistics notes: the bathrooms at the train station are 1 euro to use, and there is a change machine there that will change 2s, 5s, or 10s, but it wasn't working. Bathrooms on the trains don't open until the train starts moving.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">The train doesn't have any announcements or display to tell you where you are, what's next, or even what time it is. You just have to know when your train is supposed to arrive at your stop and pay close attention, or ask somebody.<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;"><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8000001907349px; line-height: normal;">The train arrived in Rimini at about 10:30pm. I was prepared to either walk the few blocks to the hostel or take a cab, depending on how shady Rimini seemed to be at that time of night. First, Rimini is very clean and tourist-friendly. Second, there were plenty of people still out and about on walks or bike rides. I was within view of at least 2 pedestrians/bikers the entire walk.

Milan Shopping, decorated for Expo

Milan Shopping, decorated for Expo


Cathedral

Cathedral


Cathedral Statue

Cathedral Statue


Inside San Stefano

Inside San Stefano


Milan Expo

Milan Expo


Expo Benches

Expo Benches


Castle

Castle


Gardens

Gardens


Sunbathers

Sunbathers


Castle Grounds

Castle Grounds


Dragon's Blood

Dragon's Blood


Cathedral

Cathedral


Duomo Statues

Duomo Statues


Duomo Roof

Duomo Roof


Duomo Roof

Duomo Roof


Gargoyle

Gargoyle


View from plane

View from plane

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Italy

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