Disembarkation runs smoothly and we fondly say goodbye to our home of 20 days and 6440 nautical miles ( 1 nautical mile = 1.8km). We head to the airport to collect our hired car only to learn that very few things happen in Italy before 9 am and that 10 o’clock is actually a much more civilized time! Eventually kitted out we head to Milano were we will link up with good friends that are currently living in the UK.
We chose not to take a GPS and are traveling the old fashioned way with maps and road signs. Great fun, if you are not trying to find a specific hotel on a specific street in the greater Milan (one of the biggest and busiest cities in Italy) and that specific street is not on your map! We quickly get to practice our measly Italian on every shop owner that is prepared to give us elaborate directions. But the universal language of hand gestures is well practised, even in Milan and with not too much ado we arrive in the city of fashion.
We are overjoyed to see our friends and together we hit the streets of Milano! If you have never been to Milan and you only have a short time in the city, you cannot miss out on a visit the Duomo. The gothic cathedral in the centre of the city is majestic and the biggest of its kind in the world. The thousands of statues and little spires represent the outstanding architectural design of its time. A visit to the Golden Quadrangle just next to the Duomo gives you a glimpse of the city’s elaborate fashion industry and is a brand lover’s shopping mecca!
The impressive Stazione Centrale and Castillo Sforza are both worth a visit with the latter’s defences designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Having soaked up as much as we can of the old city we head off for an aperetivo, a very welcome Milanese tradition. For the amount of just a cocktail (between about 6 pm to 9 pm) you get a selection of nibbles that in some places could even constitute a meal, all included in your fee. We opt to have the meal as well and good pasta, risotto and some seafood soup is ended off with a great tiramisu and coffees.