Friday, November 23, 2012

The Inspiration for the blog: Milan

Thanks to my job I've been to Italy 3 times now, with a fourth coming up.  I haven't had a whole lot of time to sight-see, but the great thing about Italy is that the food is almost always delicious.  The job site I work at is a little outside of Milan, so that is where I have done a majority of my sightseeing during my time in Italy.

Sesto Calende is the name of the little town where we stay.  On very clear days you can see the Monte Rosa.  On my first trip there was also a small skating rink set up.  I wasn't able to skate along the river last year, but I hope I can on one of my future trips.
Monte Rosa from Sesto Calende
Unzoomed Monte Rosa from Sesto Calende
Skating rink in Sesto Calende
Interesting trees in Sesto Calende

From what I have read, many people will advise you against going to Milan in favor of other cities like Florence and Rome.  I can't say that I would disagree with that advice and I wouldn't spend a week in Milan, but I think skipping it entirely would be a mistake.  Milan is the fashion capital of Italy, if not the world and the Duomo (cathedral) is very impressive.  During my first trip I was fortunate to stay at the Hilton Milan and got upgraded to a club level room.  The appetizers and drink selection in the lounge was very nice.

The first trip I only had time to sight-see at night and since it was February it was cold as well.  While it wasn't ideal it was still worth it to go see some of the major sights around town.  Due to the limited amount of time I had I decided to see the major sight in the city that would be open at night, the Duomo.  The Metro was very convenient and took me straight from Milano Centrale to the Duomo station.  When I arrived I trudged up the stairs wondering which direction I would have to walk to see the Duomo.  As I neared the top I realized that I wouldn't have to worry - the huge, towering white structure towered over the square and it was impressive.  I spent a while marveling at the size and complexity of the cathedral and then turned to take in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, which is a large, open air "shopping mall".  Many of Milan's top designers have a storefront in the Galleria.
The Duomo
Golden Madonna statue
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
Duomo from a side street
Intricate stone work on the Duomo
Rear stained glass windows of the Duomo
Through the Galleria is another small courtyard where you can see the the famous La Scala opera house and a statue of Leonardo Da Vinci.
Statue of Leonardo Da Vinci
One of Milan's other major sights is the Sforza Castello.  The Sforza's were one of Italy's most powerful families during the Renaissance and constructed this castle to guard their interests.  Eventually I would go in the courtyard of the castle, but for this trip I was stuck on the outside.

Frozen fountain in front of the Sforza Castello
Once I was done walking around the castle I headed back towards the Duomo for some food and found a small restaurant to eat at.  It was probably a little touristy, but the food was pretty good and it was good to sit in the warmth and eat warm food.  Nearby there was a gelateria called Chocolat Italiano.  I think I still dream about the experience of having gelato at that place.  I spent a minute or so contemplating what to order and then finally decided on gelato with Nutella.  The gelato girl suggested some flavors and then got to work.  First they pour some liquid chocolate in the bottom of your ice cream cone.  You can choose from milk, dark, or white chocolate and some places have mocha chocolate.  Next she put the scoops of gelato in.  Then she artfully swirled the Nutella around the gelato and finally stuck a cookie in as a flourish.  Not only was the cone great to look at, but it was also delicious.  I can't wait to get back to this place in the future.
In the next post I'll share some more photos of Milan in the daytime along with some more shots from around northern Italy.

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