front of the Duomo
On Saturday morning we woke up around 7 and packed our things to make an 8 am train to Milan
. We grabbed some pastries and drinks on our way to the station and had a picnic breakfast en route. The train ride was about 4 hours and we tried to sleep as much as possible so we would be well rested for our tour of Milan. Saturday June 2nd was the Anniversary of the Republic of Italy aka Independence Day so there were lots of people travelling on the train and lots of crowds in the cities.
After arriving at the train station we split up and some of us went to get a city map while Chris and I went to the ticket office to make reservations for our return journey to gorizia on sunday evening.
Me in front of the Duomo
We walked from the station to our hotel which was a little under 10 minutes and was a direct shot. The weather was overcast and drizzly so we hurried to make sure we didnt get cuaght in a downpour with our backpacks on. Hotel Trieste was perfectly adequate for our needs- close to the metro, inexpensive, clean beds and bathrooms, and a little tv to check the news and weather. Andrea, chris and I stayed in the three person room with ensuite bathroom while Jennifer and Debbie took the two person room with access to the bathroom down the hall. We changed into some warmer clothes and grabbed our rain gear before heading to the Metro by our hotel, the Piazza Republicca stop, where we bought a 24 hour pass and hopped a train to the Duomo stop.
Inside the Galleria Victorio Emmanuelle
Milan is a sprawling city with an economic and industrial base. Many people refer to it as the new Rome because besides being a fashion capital of the world, it is also the center of Italian business and economics. At the center of the city is the Duomo, or grand cathedral. Right next to it is a shopping center called the Galleria Victoria Emmanuelle II. We got off here and took some pictures in front of the cathedral then headed inside the galleria to avoid the rain. Our guidebook told us that the best place to do some people watching was to sit just across from the Gucci and Prada stores inside the McDonald's cafe. We all ordered a Big Mac and fries and savored the hamburgers as we checked out all the Italians and tourists perusing the high end stores.
Andrea in awe of Gucci
The center of the galleria floor is covered with mosaics, including one of a little bull to symbolize the city of Turino. If you spin on the bulls testicles it is considered great luck so we watched everyone do that as they walked by.
After lunch we window shopped inside the galleria and then headed outside to continue down the street. As everyone knows I am a hardcore shopper but even I was completely fabergasted by the size of the crowds in the area that day. Because it was a big holiday everyone was hanging out here in the city center and because it was raining everyone was hanging around in the stores making it hard to manuever down the aisles, let alone actually browse or try things on. Jennifer and Debbie were happy to brave the crowds but Chris, Andrea and I decided to continue down the street and meet up with them in a couple of hours.
at the Ferrari store with our cool umbrella bags
We headed to the Ferrari store to browse and when we walked in they gave us these plastic bags to put our umbrellas in so the floor wouldnt get wet. they have the ferrari logo on them so we all kept them as souvenirs.
After our shopping adventures we were tired of the crowd and the rain so we went back to the hotel to take a nap, get cleaned up, and make a plan for dinner. We ended up going back to the Duomo area for dinner in a cafeteria on the second floor of the galleria that overlooks the piazza duomo, where there was a concert going on by the Milanese Symphonic Orchestra. They played the national anthem of Italy and other songs by Italian composers of fame. We stood outside and listened to the concert for about 20 minutes then went in to have dinner.
View of the courtyard from the second floor of the Brera Art Gallery.
Thankfully the rain stopped during the concert but as soon as we finsihed dinner and went outside to go to some bars it of course started to rain again. We got on the metro and went to the area that our friend in Gorizia
had said was the area for students to gather at, but because of the rain and the holiday no one was around and we couldnt find the place. We ended up ducking into a pizza place to wait out the rain and got some ice cream. Around 11 we realized the rain wasnt going to let up so we made our way back to the metro station and went to the area where the clubs are. Our friend Daniele had told us it would be about €20 to get in, and not everyone wanted to pay that much so because we were tired, wet, and broke we jsut took our picture in front of Club Hollywood and then headed back to the hotel to retire for the night.
In the morning we got up early and checked out but left our bags downstairs at the front desk. We had picked out an art museum to check out in the morning and then because it was supposed to be a nice day we were going to tour the Duomo and climb up onto the roof which is said to have amazing views of the city and the Alps. The museum was interesting- nothing of particular note or importance but it gave us a chance to experience some of the higher culture of the city. As we walked fromt he museum to the Duomo we passed by a cafe and got breakfast and they happened to sell these amazing movie posters there! I picked out one that was for Roman oliday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck that was the Italian promotional poster. We made our way through the flower market and back to the Duomo.
The flower market on the oldest street in Milan
The inside of the church is collosal. It is the 4th largest cathedral in Europe. They had mass going on while we were in there but I didnt stay for it. One of the relics of this church is a nail from the cross where Jesus was crucified but it is not out on display except for 1 day a year. We walked around the church to admire the stained glass windows and gallery sculptures, then made our way back outside to find the entrance to climb to the roof. After paying the fee we headed up the stairs which seemed like a neverending circular staircase. Eventually we reached a door to the top and it opened out onto the roof of the church. The views really were spectacular and you could wander all over the area. The other film class had watched a movie called rocco and his brothers which had a scene with the boys wandering around on the roof so Andrea and Chris were really excited to relive that scene.
Me on top of the Duomo roof
After taking some pictures we still had an hour before we had to head back to catch our 12:55 train home so we said we would meet at the metro entrance at 11:45 and split up. Debbie, Jennifer and I went to do some clothes shopping because Jennifer was the only person who had bought some clothes yet and you cannot go to Milan and not buy clothes! Unfortunately the store I wanted to go to H&M was closed until 12 so we browsed around and then split up in Zara, saying we would meet at the entrance at 11:50. So when its time I go to the entrance but dont see the girls anywhere. I wait a few minutes then go in and eventually find them on the top floor still shopping! I tell them we have to check out right now and I will head to the metro to let Andrea and Chris know they are right behind me.
View of Milan and the mountains from the Duomo
I get to the Metro and find Chris and then we find Andrea about 5 min later. When we had set the meeting place we hadnt been quite specific enough because there are actually 4 entrances to the Duomo metro stop from this one piazza. So the three of us were waiting for the other two girls and watching the tme go by. Since our train was at 12:55 we needed to leave the piazza by 12:15 to make it. When the time hit we knew we had to go but we didnt want to leave the girls, or lose our train reservation. I said I didnt mind taking the 3 pm train since it would give me time to shop so I stayed in the piazza to find the girls and sent Andrea and Chris to the hotel and then the station. After about 5 min of waiting and looking I had a feeling that something was really wrong and that I needed to go back to the hotel.
Andrea and I exhausted and delirious from running to catch our train and keep track of our travel buddies
I immediately walked down to the metro and was about to get on the train when i saw a phone booth and it occured to me that I could call the hotel and see if the girls had gone back there. I pulled out the hotel phone card (which I had given to all 5 of us when we checked in for emergencies) and dialed. The guy at the desk said that Jennifer and Debbie were there and put Jennifer on the phone. Apparently only seconds before I called, Chris and Andrea had walked in the hotel to find Jennifer and Debbie waiting there because they couldnt find us at the piazza. Just as they were freaking out about leaving me behind alone, I called! They told me to meet them at the train station and they would bring my bags. I hopped on the first train and was watching the clock countdown and praying that I would make it. As we pulled into the stop before the train station I looked up and the car I was in stopped right in front of my friends and the doors opened to let them in. I gave Andrea a huge hug because I was so releived to see them! We ran from the metro into the station with 5 min to spare and I watched the bags while everyone grabbed a sandwich or some snacks for the train. We made it back to Gorizia with no other problems and a great adventure to share.
All in all it was a great weekend and I learned some valuable lessons about choosing travel companions who are competant and responsible for being on time. Also note to self- dont pick a meeting place in a crowded square, or where there are multiple entrances! Sadly I never got to buy any clothes in Milan so I will have to save the fashion extravaganza for my next trip to italy.