Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Milan: Of Thieves and Sophistication Classic European Elegance (Sophisticated Milan Series 24)

Milan: Of Thieves and Sophistication
Classic European Elegance
Sophisticated Milan Series 24

It was our third week and third stop of my family’s 
annual European spring vacation, which began in
  Lourdes, France where we stayed for several days,

…followed by another week in Lyon, France.

Milan, Italy is our penultimate destination,

… before our final stop in Venice.

Day 1

From Lyon. we arrived at the
Milan P Garibal train  station-

…after almost 6 hours of what is probably
one of the scenic train rides in the world.

We took a taxi to Porta Romana Apartment,

a self-service 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,

…two bathrooms,

…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.

Day 2

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 Milanand 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
buy entrance tickets to the Milan Cathedral.

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.

We also explored the Piazza del Doumo as it was
surrounded by some of the most important and 
historic buildings not only in Milan but the whole of Italy.

The Piazza del Duomo aside from being literally
the geographic center of Milan is also considered
Italy’s spiritual core and center for arts and culture.

It was already past noon and we spotted
McDonald’s’ Doumo after queuing for
entrance tickets to the Duomo de Milano
for almost six hours without succeeding.

McDonald’ Doumo also offers a
view of Piazza del Doumo in front-

...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
is Italy’s 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
electronic shop bearing his name.

From the Galleria VittorioEmanuele II
we took an exit to the Piazza della Scala.

This pedestrian central square,
was named after the renowned 
Teatro alla Scala Opera House.

It is connected to the Piazza del Duomo.by
the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II passage.

The center of the square is a monument of 
Leonardo da Vinci by sculptor Pietro Magni 

From the Piazza della Scala, we turned
right to the Via Alessandro Manzoni,

…and walked our way
to Via Monte Napoleone.

Also spelled as Via Montenapoleone-
it is a famous upscale shopping street and
considered Europe's most expensive street.

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 
muchbut we didn’t go home empty-handed.

After shopping, we walked back to the

…and had dinner at the Restoranti Gallerria.

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
breathtakingly beautiful Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II,l”.

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.

We walked back to Piazza del Doumo,

…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.

Day 3

We intended to bring the kids to Europark,
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.

We took a tram from Porta Romana.

...to Corso Ventidue Marzo, where we saw the

We walked to the Piazza CinqueGiornate,
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.

The first was WalibiRhône-Alpes in Lyon,

…and we are beginning to realize that except
in Paris, France that has its own Disneyland,

…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
lunch at Mcdonald’s in Europark.

We bought souvenir Milan hats from
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 centerpiece of Piazza de Castello
the Fontana di Piazza Castello and also
called wedding cake because of its shape.

The Piazza deCastello’s organized symmetry,
serves as a beautiful prelude to the priceless
treasures housed at the Castello Sforzesco.

We bought refreshments
at the nearby food stall,

…before proceeding to

Sforza 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 centuries.

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.

The Sforzesco Castle has long ceased to be a fortress castle
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.

The Sala delle Asse of the Castello Sforzesco, or 
the'Room of the tower' or 'room of the wooden boards'
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.
painted the Sala delle Asse ceiling with "intertwining
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
based at the Castelo Esforzeco makes
it a must visit place for any Milan tourist.

Missing the Castelo Esforzeco is like
visiting Paris without seeing the Louvre.

We took the rear exit of Castelo Esforzeco,

Parco Sempione is one of the largest city park
in Milan, 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 Park"
and was designed by architect Emilio Alemagna.

Parco Sempione was conceived with the
intent of creating a quiet refuge and a place
for rest and recreation for city dwellers.

Located just at the rear of Sforza Castle,
Parco Sempione is the best place to rest and
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.

We then walked back to Sforzesco Castle,

… on our way to Piazza de Castello.

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
Milan 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.

After our dinner in Jollibee, we took a tram to
Plaza Romana, dropped by the grocery to shop,

…and returned to the apartment to rest.

Day 4

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
Santa Maria delle Grazie as we were told
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
former Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

Only 30 visitors per tour are allowed to spend a maximum
of 15 minutes viewing to ensure that the room temperature
is maintained to protect the priceless fresco from deterioration.
To our disappointment, tickets were sold out when we arrived.

We were left with no choice but to admire
Santa Maria delle Grazie from the outside.

From the Santa Maria delle Grazie we walked to

in Milan is the largest science and technology museum in Italy.

Set in the ancient former monastery of San Vittore al Corpo
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,

…back to Porta Romana,

…and had dinned at Mariposa Restaurant.

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 Lasagna, 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 with Potatoes

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.

Day 5

It was our last day in Milan and
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

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