Milan: Of Thieves and Sophistication
Classic European Elegance
It was our third week and third stop of my family’s
annual European spring vacation, which began in
France where we stayed for several days,
…followed by another week in Lyon, France.
Milan, Italy is our penultimate
… before our final stop in Venice.
From Lyon. we arrived at
Milan P Garibal
…after almost 6 hours of what is probably
one of the scenic train
rides in the world.
We took a taxi to Porta
apartment set on beautifully
renovated 17th-century neoclassical building,
…just a few steps away from Porta Romana Arc.
We were awed by the
massive building portal,
ancient arched vaulted ceilings and grand stairway.
Our apartment was on the fifth floor and can
also, be accessed by two antique elevators.
Ours was a huge two-bedroom apartment
with very modern, fully equipped kitchen,
…two dining rooms,
…a spacious living room,
…huge utility room,
… and even a walk-in closet
big enough to be a bedroom.
It was a very beautiful and spacious apartment
and this would be our home for the next six days,
While the rest of the family was unpacking,
…I went shopping at the nearby grocery,
…cooked our dinner,
...and retired early to get ready for
a busy day
ahead in the morning.
After breakfast, we headed to the Porta Romana
subway just a few steps away from our apartment-
…and took a train to the Doumo Station.
We alighted at the Piazza
del Duomo the main
piazza of Milan, and was overwhelmed by the
sight of the breathtaking Duomo de Milano.
While we were having our pictures taken,
A photographer offered to take our photos.
We agreed as we always have an official
photograph taken of the places we visited.
After taking our photos he started printing without making us choose.
He had already printed a bundle when I asked him to stop. He was
asking for €150. When I protested he started to bargain and when he
sensed that I am not paying, he finally settled for €50. I agreed. He gave
me the photos and offered to download the rest of the photos on my i-phone.
I handed him my phone thinking it was an act of goodwill. He demanded
another €50 download fee. I disagreed and asked for my phone back
but had no plan of returning it. I grabbed my phone and talked to a
police officer nearby who shrugged off my complaint saying there is
a lot of them here so be we had to be very careful next time.
After that unfortunate incident, I queued to
There were just too many tourists,
…and I had been queuing for more
then two hours when I gave up.
We finally decided just to admire
the church from the outside,
…and marvel at probably one of the greatest
works of art in the world from a distance.
surrounded by some of the most important and
historic buildings not only in Milan but the whole of Italy.
the geographic center of Milan is also considered
spiritual core and center for arts and culture.
It was already past noon and we spotted
for almost six hours without succeeding.
...and the ancient Piazza
de Mercanti, what
used to be the heart of
the city during the
middle ages at the rear side of the restaurant.
Just like any other McDonald restaurants in the world,
this one in Doumo also offers the usual McDo fares-
…but surprisingly, this is one of the very few
fast- food chains that offer fresh fruits on the menu.
After lunch, we walked our way
oldest mall built in 1865.
We admired the shopping mall’s
two- glass vaulted ceilings-
…covered with glass arches
…and cast-iron roof.
We also went on window shopping,
…as the Galleria is home to some
of the oldest shops and restaurants,
…and luxury haute couture retailers.
My young son fancied the upscale
This pedestrian central square,
was named after the renowned
Teatro alla Scala Opera House.
the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II passage.
The center of the square is a monument
Vinci by sculptor Pietro Magni
right to the Via
…and walked our way
to Via Monte
Also spelled as Via
it is a famous upscale shopping street and
considered Europe's most
Many well-known fashion designers
have high-end boutiques in this street.
It is one of Milan’s
most important streets-
it is considered Europe’s
center of fashion.
No visit to Milan
is complete without a
luxury (signature) shopping experience”-
at least that’s what most travel books say.
As tourists from a Third World Country
(which they now call Developing Country
to be politically correct) like the Philippines,
…this could be difficult when your currency
is devaluated 50 times less than the Euros.
For the limited budget we have,
we focused on two stores-
Gucci- to buy shoes for the two kids,
…and Prada where we bought
shoes and a bag for us adults.
Both stores had excellent personalized service,
we enjoyed the snacks and the refreshments.
We decided to go home so we would stop drooling
on something that we can’t afford. We didn’t buy
much- but we didn’t go home empty-handed.
After shopping, we walked back to the
We initially intended to dine inside
the restaurant as we were attracted
to the beautiful and elegant interiors,
The waiter suggested that we move to the al fresco area-
"those are our prime seats” he said. He was right- it was
a perfect place to appreciate the sights and sounds of the
He also gave us an extra seat where we could place
our bags and warned us-
“keep your belongings
close to you- so many thieves and pickpockets here”
They initially served Grissini Torino piu croccanti.
a popular Italian dry-baked breadsticks appetizer.
Gallery offers a wide choice of Italian pizzas.
They used a traditional wood-fired oven
for their delicious perfectly baked pizza.
Their Spaghetti Marinara was also very delicious.
The service was excellent and the price is budget-friendly. Galleria Café was a perfect prelude to
the addicting authentic Italian cuisine for my family.
…bought souvenirs from a roadside gift shop, had some
pictures taken as there were fewer people this time,
…then took a very crowded subway
back to our apartment in Porta Romana.
While we were unpacking, I realized that my wallet
was missing from my pocket. I took a subway back
to Galleria Café thinking that I may have left it there
when I paid the bill but the waiter who served us
implied that I might have been a pickpocket victim.
I returned to our apartment and resigned to
the fact that I lost my wallet to a pickpocket.
It was a good thing that I didn’t keep any of
my debit and credit cards in my wallet.
a theme park just as an amusement break
on the third week of the cultural European tour.
This was not a part of our plan in Milan but after
a foiled visit to Walilbi
theme park in Lyon.
Ventidue Marzo, where we saw the
and took pictures of this important monument
…that commemorates the street fighting
during an anti- Austrian campaign that
drove the Austrian soldiers from Milan.
We then took a bus to the town
of Segrate at the outskirts of Milan.
To our disappointment,
the theme park was close.
stop on Via Rivoltana near Idroscalo Lake,
…and used to be known Lunapark Milano.
This was the second theme park we visited that
was closed since we arrived in Europe
2 weeks ago.
…and we are beginning to realize that except
…theme parks are not popular
in other European countries.
We took a lunch a tthe nearby McDonalds,
and took a bus to Doumo-
…where we stumbled upon a Jollibee store.
.we did not get inside as we had just
We bought souvenir Milan
a Filipino peddler and took note of the
the Jollibee address so we could easily
locate it back to dine there in the future.
At the Doumo subway, about 8 young women
jostled us when we got onto the train. We were
forcefully crammed on us and created a lot
of noise and commotion for distraction.
It was then that my wife discovered one of the lady’s
hands in her bag, and two more ladies with their hands
in each of the kids’ backpacks. When we confronted
they quickly dispersed and got out to the next station.
I lost €50 fished out by the pickpocket from my belt
bag. My wife and the
two kids did not lose anything.
After the unfortunate incident, we alighted at the subway
station just across the Piazza de Castello.
Located just in front of Castello Sforzeco
The plaza is surrounded by a radial street
layout of beautiful neoclassical buildings-
built symmetrically on each side of the piazza.
the Fontana di Piazza Castello and also
called wedding cake because of its shape.
serves as a beautiful prelude to the priceless
We bought refreshments
at the nearby food stall,
…before proceeding to
Castle or the Castello Sforzesco in Milan,
was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza
the Duke of Milan, atop a 14th-century fortification.
It was one of the largest citadels in
Europe in the 16th and 17th
The castle is quadrangular in shape with two square
towers called Torre
della Corte in the northern side,
…while the western one
is called ''Torre del Tesoro
The castle has an ogival gate which was
once accessed through a drawbridge.
and now hosts several museums like the Museo d'Arte Antica,
the Museo della Preistoria, and the Archaeological Museum.
The castle also boasts a collection of sculptures
and priceless paintings from the Late Antiquity,
the Middle Ages and the Renaissance periods.
With the limited time we have, we proceeded
to the Leonardo da Vinci section of the museum.
when translated to English, is the location of one
of the greatest works of art by Leonardo da Vinci.
Dating back from 1498 the great Leonardo da Vinci.
plants with fruits and monochromes of roots and rocks"
A painting was done in tempera on plaster,
a medieval method of painting with pigments
dispersed in an emulsion of miscible egg yolk
with water, popular from
the 12th century until
the 15th, when it began to give way to oils.
This ceiling mural is considered one of the greatest
legacies of the genius that is Leonardo da Vinci-
The massive exhibits in the museums
it a must visit place for any Milan tourist.
without seeing the Louvre.
adjacent to the two of the main city
landmarks; the Sforza
Castle on one side,
….and to the Arch of Peace, on the opposite side.
Established in 1888,
it is also called "Simplon
and was designed by architect Emilio Alemagna.
intent of creating a quiet refuge and a place
for rest and recreation for city dwellers.
Located just at the rear of Sforza Castle,
relax after a busy day at the fortress museum.
And that’s exactly what we did.
For several hours, we just
lazed on the grass,
…sipping refreshments bought from the nearby stall,
…and doing some shameless people watching.
while my daughter studied her lessons.
It was early in the evening,
and there were fewer people,
…and we took the chance to take photos
on the beautiful symmetrical plaza.
We then headed to the subway,
…took a train to Doumo, and
returned to Jollibee for dinner.
We have been in Europe for
almost three weeks
now and we have missed home and Jollibee in
somehow eased out our homesickness,
…and we felt right a home upon getting in.
We all ordered Chicken Joy with rice.
It was such a joy to have rice meals once more,
after dining for riceless European fares for weeks.
We are not a fan of Jollibee Spaghetti
I ordered one anyway as I was curious
how they tweaked the horrible sweet-
Pinoy-style paste to suit the Italian taste.
It tasted the same, but having missed Filipino
food for being in Europe
for the past three weeks,
the dreaded sweet spaghetti never tasted this good.
…and returned to the apartment to rest.
It was our penultimate day in Milan and we
reserved this day for more museum visits.
After having been victimized with three
thieveries on our first three days, we decided
to use a taxi as our mode of transportation.
We arrived very early in the morning at the
the queue to the church is kilometric as it is
visited by more than 10,000 tourists s day.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, one of the most
celebrated and well-known artworks in the world
was painted on the wall of the dining room of the
convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Only 30 visitors per tour are allowed to spend a
of 15 minutes viewing to ensure that the room temperature
is maintained to protect the priceless fresco from
To our disappointment, tickets were sold out when we
We were left with no choice but to admire
in Milan is the
largest science and technology museum in Italy.
Set in the ancient former monastery of San Vittore
congregation it was opened on February 5 1953 named after
the great Italian painter and scientist Leonardo da Vinci.
There a whole wing dedicated to
Leonardo da Vinci, Art & Science,
Leonardo da Vinci is considered one of the most
important museums in Europe and
in the world.
From the museum, we took a taxi,
The restaurant was very busy,
but the service was pretty fast.
They immediately served the
complimentary bread appetizer.
We dined on delicious vegetarian dishes from
Vegetarian Pasta and a
massive platter of Eggplant
Salad served with
fresh veggies and a huge ball of mozzarella cheese.
My son settled for classic boneless
Fried Chicken Breast
It was a hale and hearty dinner,
yet very delicious and affordable.
We walked our way back to our apartment.
I was still early and we have a lot of time to
pack up as we are heading for Venice the next day.
It was our last day in Milan
we took a taxi to Milano Centrale,
for our 9:45 AM train to Venice.
We arrived early and we had a lot of spare
time to admire the beautiful train station.
Our train arrived on time and just as we
thought we were safe and comfortably
settled on our business class cabin-
Two well dressed young ladies came by
and one of them said “You’re on the wrong seats”
said while trying to remove our luggage
from the overhead baggage compartment.
I stood up and wrestled the luggage from her as
I was 100% sure that we are in the right place.
It turned out that she created a commotion to
distract our attention from her companion who
got herself busy picking my wife’s bag, and
managed to unzip my belt bag when we caught her.
When we confronted them that they were stealing
from us- they apologized that they made a mistake
and they are supposed to on the next cabin. They
quickly left and swiftly hopped out of the train.
The train shortly left and luckily they
weren’t able to steal anything from us.
We experienced various forms of thievery for
four consecutive days of our 5- day stay in Milan.
Indeed- when it rains, it pours.
Be very extra-careful in Milan.
It was a relaxing and exhilarating
three-hour train ride to Venice,
…and we arrived by noontime on our last
destination for our European spring vacation.
Read my other Milan Series