Thursday 12th September
We left the apartment this morning at 8.45 am but didn’t get very far as there was an interesting cafe just around the corner;the Disciplini cafe. So, in we went for the boys to have their morning coffee and pastry fix. It was interesting watching the flow of locals coming in and having their coffee and pastry whilst standing up at the bar. It’s obviously the thing to do. The two coffees and two pastries cost six euros which was about what David paid for one Gelato yesterday near the Last Supper
Our first scheduled activity for the day was a 10 am walking tour with Walkabout Tours. This was a great activity and, as always, very educational. Some key learnings are summarised below:
- The Visconti’s: a great ruling family in Milan.
- Duomo built by a Visconti to gain a Duke of Europe title.
- Dante’s Divine Comedy: so popular that this helped to shape modern Italian language.
- Saint Nazzaro: built in 382 after Constantine made Christianity the official religion.
- Ca Grande: ‘the big house’: a significant hospital in Milan. Now a University. Was first to practice good hygiene rather than act as more of a hospice.
- Santuarrio di S bernadino alle Ossa: a 400 year old Chapel holding bones from an earlier hospital and it’s surrounding cemetery , that was on the site.
- Milan Duomo. Took approx 600 years to build. Is 3rd largest church in the world. 3,500 statues decorate the Duomo.
- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: built to celebrate the Unification of Italy
- Merchants Square: significant from 12th and 13th century. Facade dates back to 12 th century.
- Definition: Bankrupt: evolved from a merchant failing to pay his debts and his desk was symbolically smashed in half to humiliate him. smashing desk, banca rotta: ‘to break a bench’ translates to modern day term of Bankrupt!
- Catalan; the artist: 2011 gave a great statue gift and asked for this to be placed in front of Italian stock exchange.
Our tour finished at 12:30 and so we then headed down to retrieve David’s jacket that he had cloaked at the mobile phone shop the day before. We stopped off for lunch at a restaurant across the road from the mobile phone shop and this was a busy and bustling place offering meals where you chose your pasta and then a sauce.
We were all rather tired and the morning walking and concentrating further fatigued us. However, we decided to head back to the Duomo after lunch and try to tour the inside with an audio guide. Our audio guide covered inside the Duomo, the archaeological site below the Duomo and the Museum so we explored all these areas before heading home with a stop off for a beer and Aperol Spritz. A rest was required before we headed out to dinner.
We had a funny experience with dinner. We’ve found the streets around our apartment to have a few cafes and bars but nothing too exciting. Well, tonight we ventured a 6 min walk in a slightly different direction to find a strip that was full of people, mostly millennials, but a good quota of cafes, bars and shops as well. It was all a bit surreal actually as we were just a few steps from home but transported into this busy and bustling part of Milan that out dinner host described as the ‘alternative’ area. This was definitely an area we wanted to come back to and spend more time exploring the shops as well as the dining venues.
Our venue for dinner was Pizzeria del Ticinese where we had an a nice meal and some ok wine. However, this was no match for our Pompeii’s back home as I really actually a steak knife to cut my pizza. We were all exhausted after our first two days with jet lag and the warm weather taking its toll and so it was another early night for us with just a stop for some Gelato (me) and wine (boys) before heading home.
There was another funny moment as we neared our apartment with a sleepy-hollow style corner venue coming alive as a very popular and busy bar / night club; rather aptly named as Toms! And all of this right at our door step.