April 9, 2011

The Flavour of Italy – Part 1, Milan

I always thought of Italy as being the root of all things tasty (pizza, pasta, gelato… just to name a few) and as having some of the best humoured people in the World. On my very first visit to Italy, I quickly discovered that I was right, and that Italy had something that every person on Earth desired… good food! I am sure this is the reason for why everyone you meet in Italy is in high spirits and easy going. One taste of that hot, melting pizza and your troubles just disappear. Okay so maybe I am making a lot of generalisations here, and I am sure there are a few grouchy Italians here and there, but to be honest, I was on such a high after every meal that I didn’t really notice! So while there are many things to do and see in this wonderful country, the underlying activity is ‘eating’ or ‘tasting’ or ‘sipping’ J So in order to enjoy Italy, every activity you do must involve food in some way. I will do my best to recommend the ‘dish’ that best serves the activity.


Amazing city, if you are organised you can see it all in a matter of hours. However, it is best enjoyed at a slower pace, over two days. Especially during the warmer season, where you can sit in Duomo Square enjoying the atmosphere.

Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral)

This Cathedral is the most famous monument in Milan. It is located right in the city centre, where Fashion Week is held and where many go to enjoy shopping and dining.

I spent half a day sitting in the sun, watching people come and go, eating lunch and enjoying the Fashion Week parades.

Best Enjoyed With: Gelato

More info here

Castello Sforzesco (Sforza Castle)

One of the biggest citadels in Europe, although to be honest it wasn’t as impressive as Castles I’ve seen elsewhere. However, Michelangelo’s last sculpture resides here inside one of the three main museums

(among other impressive works), so it was a worthwhile visit.

The audio tour takes 2-3 hours (depending on your
pace), and the inside of the Castle can only be viewed via a pre-booked reservation. So if you forego both, your visit will take less than 10 minutes.

I highly recommend a stroll around the Castle and
surrounding Sempione Park. Be warned, it is also where a dodgy weekend Carnival has set up camp. So if rebellious teens and strange carnies aren’t your cup of tea, then avoid like the plague.

On the other side of the park is the Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace) but unless you are a fan of war history and Napoleon Bonaparte, you can probably give this a miss.

Best Enjoyed With: Hot Minestrone Soup

More info here

Villa Reale of Milan, Civica Galleria D'Arte Modern

Built between 1790 and 1798, this was the official residence in Milan for Napoleon Bonaparte and the Field Marshall Radetzky. The City Collection of Modern Art is housed inside and it is known today as the CIVICA GALLERIA D'ARTE MODERNA. Although it is a little off the beat and track, it is definitely worth a visit.

It is right around the corner from the Natural Museum (which you should skip unless you have kids!) I made the mistake of going in and couldn’t wait to get out! Arg… And on top of that, all of the signs were in Italian…)

So back to the Villa – it is around the corner from the Museum, free entry and can be seen in under 45 mins.

Best Enjoyed With: Cold Drink (famous iced chocolate or iced tea)

More info here

Milano vs Napoli Football Match

I am not normally the one to go watch a game LIVE (even though I do enjoy the sport, and even used to play it competitively as a teen). Opportunities to watch a live game never really presented themselves before. So when a group of work colleagues suggested we watch the Milan vs. Napoli match, I couldn’t resist! It was raining, and freezing cold, but the atmosphere was definitely worth it. I was rugged up and well prepared, although next time I will consider avoiding any liquids before the second half – the last thing you want to do is to visit the toilet. Hundreds of people line up and try to do their business as quickly as possible so as not to miss the game. Which means less than hygienic conditions. AND men/women rush towards what’s available, and in some cases don’t even bother closing the door! Suffering dehydration for a couple of hours is definitely the better option.

Best Enjoyed with: Coffee / Espresso (in the 2nd half to avoid the toilet!)

For more pictures of Milan, check out my picasa web album here. Otherwise, happy traveling and stay tuned for Part 2, my visit to Roma!