Italy – Day One – Milan

I’m in Italy with my friend Kathy for the next two weeks. The first day after a long flight always feels disorienting, especially when you arrive early morning. It was a long ride from the airport into the city, but I can’t tell you much about what we passed, it all seemed a blur.

After dropping off our luggage in the hotel, but not being able to check in for hours, we went in pursuit of coffee. Fortified with caffeine we walked on Corso Sempione, a major throughfare, towards Sempione Park.

The boulevard is wide, with a trolley line running down the center. The trolley cars look antique and resemble the ones in San Francisco. But these aren’t for tourists, they are part of Milan’s basic transportation system.  Each car is individually painted and are fun to both look at and ride. We found out later that the San Francisco trolleys were manufactured in Milan, hence the resemblance.

Meandering down the boulevard we admired the Juliet balconies on many of the buildings, checked out pharmacies and window shopped. I loved the fact that there were slews of dogs out for their morning constitutional. Then, turning a corner we saw the impressive Arco della Pace (“Arch of Peace”) at the entrance to the park.

Though still early morning, the park was alive with activity. A couple posed for wedding photos under the arch. There were indoor and outdoor exercise classes attended by loads of people. An area of yellow tents and balloons caught our attention, so we checked it out.

A major festival, Coldiretti, a salute to agriculture had taken over much of the park. In the tents vendors sold local produce, meat, cheese, and other foods. We never got to see all the exhibitions or activities. By the time we got less than halfway through we were exhausted. Our new strategy was to walk a bit, find a bench and people watch.

Returning to the Arco della Pace Kathy and I ate lunch at a crowded outdoor café. Kathy had pizza with fresh mushrooms and the thinnest crust I’ve ever seen. I had a caprese salad—delicious tomatoes and fresh mozzarella topped with excellent olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The trolley stop was just up the block, and we rode right to our hotel, where we crashed for the next few hours.

I finally got to explore the hotel’s lobby, which is innovatively decorated, a great example of Milanese design and style. Kathy’s friend Gabriella and her son Cyril had come in from Luzern Switzerland to meet us. We had drinks in the lobby then went to dinner at Ribot Bistro. It was great fun meeting them and dinner was superb, though I chuckled seeing one of their specialties was Nebraska steak.