Thursday, 22 August 2013

Throwback Thursday: Take Me to Milan!

Getting off the train at Milan - Stazione Centrale
Oh hello Milan!
So, as the summer is coming to an end, and autumn/fall is fast approaching, and I fly back to the UK two weeks today, I thought back to last autumn and what I got up to. The highlight for me was our weekend in Milan! Given I had just finished one job, and Sophie had a rare weekend off from her hotel internship, the two of us and Ben and Adam planned a short weekend trip to Milan.

When Sophie and I suggested we spent a day in Italy, we thought about just getting the train from Cannes through Monaco and to the end of the line, Ventimiglia. The boys, on the other hand, thought outside the box and suggested Milan. 5 hours on the train, why not?!

So, armed with 4 return tickets from Cannes to Milan and 2 rooms booked in the NH Milano Touring, we left Cannes at about 7am on the Satuday morning. Bear in mind, none of us speak Italian; after 3 years of Italian lessons from the age of 11, I could at least manage some basics and my favourite phrase is still 'mi dispiace non parlo italiano, sono inglese'. And I could handle numbers, so whenever they asked how many of us there were at a restaurant - quattro. We got by!

Our city break involved a lot of walking - the boys wouldn't trust me to look at the map and direct us to the hotel, a GCSE in Geography means nothing apparently. (My colouring skills are pretty impressive though!) We also did a lot of taking in the views and eating food!
Enjoying lunch in Milan, Ristorante Galleria
Looking a bit sleepy at lunch!
It was especially nice to just take a break from Cannes; at the end of November it still seemed like summer, and when everyone at home was getting in to the Christmas spirit, I just wasn't feeling it. Heading inland and to a different city was a breath of *fresh* air, the temperature dropped and the Christmas trees were out! It definitely put me in a festive mood.
Duomi di Milano in the November haze
Duomo di Milano
After settling in to our hotel, we decided to head to the city centre and see what there was to see. Obviously the main landmark in Milan is the Duomo di Milano. The cathedral is a fantastic piece of architecture and pretty big! We took a look inside while there was a service going on and admired the stained-glass windows. Most cathedrals are often pretty similar I find - I am slowly becoming more cultured though - but what set the Duomo apart were the dead bodies on display. Lovely... Preserved or mummified in some way, were two or three bodies of former popes. Sophie and I spent a while trying to work out if they were real or not!
Preserved body of a Pope in the Duomo di Milano
A dead Pope...
Before we made it to the Duomo, we needed to stop for some lunch - it had been a long train journey! We headed to the Ristorante Galleria in the Galleria Vittorio II (the shops there proved why Milan is called the fashion capital) and enjoyed some of the best pizza I have ever had! The wine choice was a bit tricky, there were so many and it was all Italian - so used to settling on French. We enjoyed our pizza and wine, and were just so excited to be somewhere new, before heading to the Duomo and out around the shops.

We had considered going for a night out in Milan, but decided we didn't fancy it, and drinks and dinner would be nice instead. On our wanders around the city that evening, we found the amazing Juicebar - fresh fruit juices! Sophie and Adam both chose some freshly squeezed concoctions, and Ben and I went for the frozen cocktails; mojito and sex on the beach respectively. I don't think I have ever had such a good drink, it was gorgeous!
2 Fruit smoothies, and a frozen sex on the beach and mojito from Juicebar
Fresh fruite juices & cocktails
In the evening we asked at the hotel reception where was best for dinner, and they suggested Il Cestino in the Brera district, which is pedestrianised and full of restaurants. As it was busy at the restaurant, we were served bottomless glasses of Prosecco while waiting in the street - they just couldn't stop topping up our glasses! We all had variations of fish dishes along with a bottle of white, and had a really enjoyable meal that evening.

Enjoying our ice cream from Amorino Gelateria
Yummy ice cream :)
The next morning was a bit of a write-off; Sophie and Adam slept in so Ben and I made the most of the breakfast buffet. Warning: when you have just spent 4 months working in a hotel you become very critical and wary of what they serve for breakfast. I steered clear of the scrambled eggs, which looked as unappetising as ever. Again we wandered around the city, just taking it all it, and went to Sans Egal. Despite the menu being 100% in Italian and I could only pick out a few words, our waitress was happy to give her attempt at a translation! My meal was lovely, if a little filling; it was so good though I couldn't help but keep eating it. It was risotto alla milanese, but a bit more rice less risotto, with beef meatballs and a tomato-ey sauce. Gorgeous!

Of course we couldn't leave Italy without having any ice cream, so we stopped at Amorino Gelateria. Yes there is one in Cannes, but hey, it's Italy so it's different. It wasn't as though we went to McDonald's! A happy bunch, we headed to Milano Stazione Centrale and 'enjoyed' our train journey home. Which was delayed of course... don't you love public transport?!

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