July 17, 2011 by Leah
Milan is not necessarily at the top of one’s mind when one thinks of touring Italy, but we had a fabulous time there. Aaron was particularly enamored of the city with its broad streets and imposing architecture (not to mention its vast Da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology).
We arrived in the late afternoon, without map or guidebook (a slightly daunting prospect). We found a bookstore near our hotel, though, and purchased one of their two volumes in English – conveniently, it was a map/guidebook.
We saw the Duomo from the outside that first night (amazing), and upon discovering ourselves outside the Gallery of Modern Art at about 7:30 pm, discovered that said gallery is open on Thursdays until 10:30. After some deliberation, we decided it was Thursday and saw some really interesting modern Russian art (mostly found art and other objects made from scrap or waste materials – there was a lot of literature on how this was similar to a mid-century Italian art movement, but only on the surface as the Italians were consciously rejecting high art materials and the Russians were just poor.)
As we left the gallery, we heard gorgeous strains of French impressionist chamber music from a neighboring courtyard and, after hanging around and listening to almost an entire septet, discovered we had just eavesdropped on the Royal Concertgebou’s Chamber Ensemble doing a sound check. (The cellist was wearing shorts and flip flops.) The whole experience was lovely, but the music surpassed any live musical experience in my recent memory.
The next morning we went to the Castello Sforzesco and toured the museums there (the ones we could find, anyway – we couldn’t locate the musical instruments). The museum was amazing and very reasonably priced at 3 Euro per person. After that, we wandered through parks until we found the Casa Verdi and paid our respects at the composer’s tomb.
It was at this point we took the plunge and checked out the subway. SO worth it. Really easy to navigate (like NYC’s but with better info and more frequent trains) and a 24-hour pass cost 3 Euro. We rode to the aforementioned Museum of Science and Technology. I liked it – Aaron loved it. After that, we went back to the Duomo to see the inside. After dithering about whether we were appropriately dressed in cap-sleeve knee-length dress and button-down with shorts, an amused guard waved us in with a hearty “Prego!” and we were awed.
We went to try to find a real dinner that night (we’d been eating pizza and grocery store food for the previous two), but ended up at one of these places where we just paid for beer and a delightful elderly waiter ferried many plates of antipasti to us as an added bonus.
Aaron would have liked more time in Milan (even at the expense of our time in Nice, he said) – each of the two museums we saw could have easily been given a day to themselves. We are now in Venice – have been for a day and a half, and are planning to spend tomorrow taking boats out to the islands. Please forgive any errors in these entries filed via iPhone.