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Friday, April 2, 2010

Traveling – Milan, Italy

During our 2007 trip to Europe, we concluded the vacation portion of the trip by driving to Milan Italy.  It seems like when you travel anywhere in Italy by train, you visit the train station in Milan.  Milan is also is the city with the church containing Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper.

Our trip from Slovenia to Milan was long but uneventful.  We are always amazed by the restaurants/truck stops located about every 10 miles that are integrated into the freeway (or in many cases, over the freeway).  You don’t exit the freeway like you do in the states, just pull off into the parking lot and go on in, then you drive right back onto the freeway.  The facilities are the only thing you can access; there are no roads that feed into the surrounding areas.

On this portion of the trip, we didn’t have too many outstanding experiences with food.  We typically ate dinner at the hotel because the hotel was not in the best neighborhood at night.  We did have some great pastries in the morning at a little shop just down the street.

We did manage to find a store offering gelato in a variety of flavors; I really enjoyed the coconut and mango.

About a month before we left home, I had arranged for ticket to see Leonardo’s Last Supper at the Santa Maria delle Grazie church.  Our scheduled time was for 8:30 am.  We arrived before the exhibit was open for the day, and marveled at the precision to get people in and out.  As there is a limit on how many people can view the fresco each day, we had 15 minutes to view the painting, but it was worth it.  For me this is a major highlight from all our trips.

One day we were told about an outdoor market just about two blocks away, where all kinds of vendors would be selling their products.

These markets move every day to a different part of the city. We wandered through the market marveling at the variety of items offered; pots and pans, house wares, clothing, entertainment goods, and food.

Near the center of Milan is a pedestrian shopping district where there is a large covered Galleria of stores, which is shaped like an “X”, four arms extending from a central square.  In the square is a mosaic on the floor depicting a bull.  The legend is that when you pass the bull, you stop and place the heel of your shoe on part of the bull’s anatomy and then spin in a circle.  So many people do this that they have to replace the tiles several times a year.

The galleria was full of very high-end shops and the three of the four corner shops were no exception: Gucci, Polo, Swatch, and the forth corner – McDonalds.  A two story McDonalds at that.  However, I must admit that McDonalds had nice bathrooms, and they were free!

Outside from the galleria is the central cathedral for Milan. We were walking by when we saw a vendor selling bags of roasted Chestnuts.
We purchased a bag to take with us as we walked the town.  We were very surprised to see the bag was double sided.  One side contained the roasted Chestnuts; the other side was to store the discarded shells after eating, very convenient.

Travel tip, always experience the street food as long as it looks safe.  You may not like it (we loved the Chestnuts), but at least you can say you tried it.

Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell

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