The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

An Earful of Milan

Posted by Exile on June 17, 2009

Milano was not the city I expected it to be. Unlike most European cities, Milano is not built on or near any great river. Everything worth seeing is spread out over the entire city, so if you want to see the sights, you have to be prepared to travel round. There is a lot to see, so we didn’t get to see it all. I did get to visit a few shoe shops, courtesy of my darling wife, and a few up-market fashion houses where browsing around feels expensive even if you don’t buy anything. I spent considerable time waiting outside these places and got a lot of involuntary sunbathing done in the process. Man, it was hot. Twenty eight in the shade and sticky like syrup. Luckily, it cools down a little in the evening.

Food and drink is as expensive as it is anywhere else in Europe. For a real bargain, go to Greece. There were not a great many restaurants around us and, as my wife is hampered by a trick knee at the moment, we had to go local. We were not exactly in the middle of Milan but found a couple of pleasant places nearby and ate heartily. We dined on spaghetti, risotto, pizza and fish. I even had a T-bone at one place. The local white wines were good. Forget the bottles, go for the house white in a jug. Steer clear of anything that looks like a restaurant anywhere close to the Cathedral. Prices are double.

We found a bar, if one could call it a bar, on the Corso Buenos Aires. This was more a collection of plastic chairs and tables stretched out along the pavement, served by a small shop front of a bar with Ice cream and booze. It was nice to just sit and watch Milan go by. Drinking beer and keeping the little lady topped up with Margueritas suited my mood perfectly after a day in the hot sun. It was during this interlude that I was attacked by a horrid little green Italian insect which flew into my ear. Literally, into my ear.

You know that ZZEEEE noise that mosquitoes make as they go past your ear? Imagine that, only fifty times louder as the bug flies around inside your head.

Being the resolute type and not given to abject terror or panic, I immediately jumped to my feet, grabbed the swizzle stick from my wife’s drink and stuck it into my ear. I then performed a dance, something like a cross between the twist and the cha-cha across the width of the pavement before me, whilst wiggling the stick in my ear and screaming “Aaaaaggh! Get out of my ear hole you little bastard..”. This was all terribly ineffective but was, at least, highly amusing for those around us and those passing by on the street. Finally the creature vacated my aural orifice and I fell back into my plastic recliner with a sigh of relief. The waiter, a charming and helpful young man, asked if there was anything he could do and I decided that more beer was the only thing that would help. If nothing else, I thought, it may dampen the memory of the dreadful assault by “Insecto Italiano”. My wife took it all with a sense of bravado and could not hide her amusement. So much for pity and sympathy, support and solace. She refused to use the swizzle stick again, though I have no explanation to offer for this and never understood why.

We did get to see the Duomo Cathedral and a few parks. We walked the centre streets. I bought a pipe. My wife bought shoes and other clothing items. We used the Metro, which is surprisingly easy and cheap to travel by. We took a few pictures.

I probably won’t revisit Milano as a tourist. As I said, it’s all very spread out. But it is a vibrant city and worth a visit. As a footnote to this travelogue I have to say, the Hotel Bagliori was comfortable, clean, well equipped and well staffed. It was not opulent nor was it expensive. If you are looking for a relatively good and cheap hotel in Milano, I can recommend it. Eat breakfast in the garden. It’s a great way to start the day.

Ciao.

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