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Milan, Italy - Day 6

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 8:00 AM

After breakfast we headed straight to the Duomo to make sure we were able to tour the roof which offers a spectacular view of the entire city.  For the last few days the weather forecast for Milan said showers all day for Monday, but Sunday night it was indicating just cloudy.  It had been closed for the last several days due to the Pope's visit and now it looked like we finally had an opportunity to see it.  We took the 250 stairs up to the roof and it definitely did not disappoint. The stairwell is very narrow and there is a lot of traffic both ways.  For anyone interested in going to the top I would definitely recommend taking the elevator for an extra few euros since the stairwell added nothing to the experience.

Panzerotto from Luini
Our original plan after leaving the Duomo was to make an excursion to another city such as Verona, Venice or Florence, but instead of it raining in Milan, it was now expected to everywhere else, so we nixed that idea and stayed in Milan.  Some tourists guides explain that the large indoor shopping mall next to the Duomo has a picture of a bull on the floor near the center of the mall and that it is good luck to spin with the heel of your foot on the bulls balls.  We figured why not and we headed into the mall to give the bull a spin and then  headed to a placed called Luini several blocks away to eat a Panzerotto.  It is basically flat bread with mozzarella and tomato sauce slathered on it before being folded in half and then deep fried.  It was pretty good.  A little bird tried snatching it from my hands.  I don't know if tourists feed them the food, but a few of these little guys were pretty aggressive at trying to get at the Panzerotto while we were sitting on the sidewalk about a block away from the place eating it.  While we are on the subject of food, I figure I might as well share some observations.  I haven't once seen meatballs offered, there are very few menu items with chicken in it and I don't think anyone living in Milan has heard of using any other cheese besides mozzarella.

We then headed to the Pinacoteca di Brera which was supposed to house an art collection, but it appeared the art museum was closed when we arrived.  The courtyards of the building though was beautiful, though I can't say the same for the first floor interior which appears to house an art school.  I felt like I was walking through a run down interior of a neighborhood which somehow came in possession of ancient roman statutes and wall carvings.

Since the art museum was a bust we went a few blocks over to what was considered the "fashion district" of Milan and had stores such as Chanel, Fendi, Hermes, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Gucci and Versace.  We basically did a walk through of all the stores.  Hermes was selling some one of a kind purse for 70,000.  The clasp or something was made of diamonds.  While in Chanel Jess wanted to check out their watches.  We asked to try one on in particular.  It was perfect...except for the price tag.  I am surprised I managed to keep a straight face when the store employee told me that Jess was now wearing a 26,500 watch on her wrist.  It did have a zillion little diamonds in it, but I wasn't expecting that price. 

On a side note, while we were walking around the Fashion District we were approached by a black man sporting a handful of multicolored string bracelets and some trinkets that he said represented African Solidarity or Friendship.  This happened the other day when we went to check out the castle.  Back at the castle an extremely friendly black man who spoke near perfect English came over to us and introduced himself and before I knew it we both had these string bracelets on our wrists.  Then he wanted 10.  I said, "hell no, take them off right now."  He just wouldn't bug off so we gave him 2.  Before I could even get frustrated with myself for even giving him that much it turned out it was worth the 2 because there were quite a few of these African Solidarity folk pestering everyone.  All we did was lift our wrists and said we already contributed and it shut them up. 

The guy in the Fashion District was worse than all the others though.  He wouldn't go away and he tried putting trinkets in my hand and saying, "I don't want anything in return."  Yea...right.  As soon as I tried to wish him a good day and go he then wanted money.  I told him take his things we aren't giving him anything and then we walked into Versace.  Bet we looked like uncaring Americans then lol, but whatever.  He even tried coming up to us again when we left the store.  Well, that sums up my warning for any of you planning on traveling to Milan.  Your best bet is just to say no thank you and keep walking.  They will try to explain they are just being friendly and you shouldn't be like that, just ignore them and keep going.  You can recognize them very easily because they carry a ton of the multicolored bracelets in their hands.  After doing some research it appears that this is a common scam in Milan.  Click here and here for interesting posts from other travelers - the first to Paris and the second to Milan.  There were also very old, small women wearing all black wandering around the outside of the Duomo with little cups begging people for money, but they were harmless.

We took the train back to our room and tried to figure out what we were going to do for our last night of dinner.  There was one restaurant that caught our eye.  Their website said reservations could only be made in Italian, so we just decided to take a walk there.  we arrived around 8:20 p.m. and were told that they were full.  We couldn't wait, they were just full.  We passed a few other restaurants, looked at the menus and I decided that I actually had my fill of Italian food for the week.  So we went to a place called Chop Sticks and had some sort food the owners classified as "Asian Fusion".  We actually were thinking of heading to the local China Town but couldn't find any recommendations for restaurants there.  This place ended up being pretty decent, except for messing up our order of spare ribs and giving us something else entirely.  There was no noodles and duck sauce to start the meal off or fortune cookies to end it.  The wonton soup wontons were very flat in shape and their the meat of the dumplings felt a bit soft, but their fried rice and beef dish was pretty good.  I had difficulty getting the check though.  The English speaking waiter vanished and the girl that came to us only spoke Italian.  I couldn't remember how to say I wanted to pay in Spanish, which many Italians will sort of understand, so after exhausted every which way I could think of to ask for the bill in English, I just pulled out my wallet and pointed to it.  She got the idea :-)

That concludes my trip to Milan.  I have a flight back to New York Tuesday morning.


Chunny Bunny

you could have probably just have said "cheque"

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