'Where old meets new' - the saying is true

Trip Start Dec 19, 2010
Trip End Dec 19, 2011

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Where I stayed
Ciao Bella Hostel

Flag of Italy  , Lombardy,
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We finished packing up our things this morning and after a quick good-bye to Viola and her family (our hosts) we hit the road for Florence. The drive back to Florence only took us an hour and was much easier than the drive out to San G, not surprisingly. We dropped off the car and walked to the train station and managed to get on an earlier train to Milan than we anticipated which was good.

We arrived in Milan just after 1pm and had a good 40 minute walk to our hostel; it was only supposed to take 25 minutes but with a pack on your bag and not knowing where you are going it always takes longer. We though we had the wrong street when we arrived at our hostel, if you weren't looking for it you seriously wouldn’t know it was there. Two small steel doors on the street and that was it, oh a tiny paper sign sticky taped to the top of the door bell so we had to walk across the street and right up to it to make sure it was the right place. Inside the doors is a staircase that ascends to a big open room that is the living room and kitchen of the hostel. Our room was on the first floor (thankfully) and was quite spacious. The only concern to start with was the beds… they were stainless steel frames, reminded me of old orphanage or army cots. I sat on mine and the mattress almost reached the floor, I thought I had broken it but after a quick realignment of the springs underneath all was well but you still wouldn’t want to sit down too hard on it or move much during the night!

We trekked half an hour to one of the main shopping streets, well it should half only taken us half an hour but we ran into a girl who was from our hostel and she was lost but heading to the same shopping area as us. So we invited her to walk with us, she was super lovely and had some great stories to tell but she definitely wasn’t a walker. I had to slow down till I had almost stopped numerous times and pretend to be looking around at the sights so that I didn’t get too far ahead. Sometimes I would accidentally stride ahead before realising and pulling myself up when I turned to say something and poor Jodes tried to maintain a position somewhere the middle to keep the pace up from behind but not leave our new friend behind at the same time. It was a painstakingly slow walk but we made it there in the end and that’s the main thing.

Milan is definitely a city where old meets new. The buildings are enormous and very beautiful. Typical old European style, with a design carved on or statues added to the fašade, the majority of them with numerous small balconies under each window. Every now and then you would see a modern building made out of glass or such like, very similar to the types of office buildings we see in our cities back home. The contrast is drastic; it is like two worlds have collided. The main shopping street most definitely has this theme, the buildings are all old European style buildings, presuming with offices or such likes on top, however on street level are your modern fancy fashion stores. It’s definitely a shopper’s paradise, if you have the money to burn. We had a late lunch and then strolled around window shopping. There were plenty of big names here as to be expected.

We also learnt that food and drink is quite expensive, we bought a can of coke and it costs us 5 Euro that is about 7 AUD and it was only a 330ml. Lesson learnt, check prices before you buy.

We walked back to our hostel to refresh before heading down the street to a pub I spotted earlier today for a few quiet drinks.

Day two in Milan we were up and about fairly early. It didn’t help that our roomy stumbled (literally) in the door at 6am this morning. My bed and hers are next to each other, we share a small bedside table which is what separates us. She ran into my bed three or four times, knocked things off the bedside table onto me and my bed and crashed around in the bathroom, I had no idea I what she was doing till morning when I went in and had to pick up everything she had knocked over and must admit I had to have a little chuckle. Apparently she was meant to leave Milan today but we are not sure what happened with that because her alarm went off at 8am only 2 hours after she fell into bed and it woke everyone in the room except her. I had to hit snooze and then woke her up, she rolled over, looked and me and mumbled 'more sleep’ and rolled back over. Her alarm went off again 10 minutes later and again she didn’t stir so I simply turned her alarm off and when Jodes and I left for the day she was still in bed sound asleep.

Once we were out and about we headed to the same street we were at yesterday because at the Northern end it opens up into a big Piazza (square) that is home the Duomo. The Duomo is the largest of its kind and third largest of any kind in Europe. It was built to seat a capacity of 40,000 people which was the population of Milan at the time. It was stunning and indeed enormous.

The outside greyish in colour and it had many turrets on the top, mainly on every corner. This wouldn’t be many I must admit if the Duomo was a box shape but it isn’t, I wouldn’t actually be able to give the shape of the building a name. On the outside it also had many statues that had been added and designs all made out of the same each material as the fašade. There were also a few windows (one massive one) that from the outside just looked like it was made from dark glass and on top of the glass were patterns again made from the same material as the fašade. Once inside we discovered the windows were stain glass on the inside – more on this later. Another thing that makes the Duomo so special is it is said that it has the nail that impaled Christ’s right hand on the cross

Inside was very pretty spectacular too, with inlaid panels of marble on the floor making patterns, paintings hanging in rows from the ceiling, stunning stain glass windows and huge pillars throughout. It was so big you could almost get lost in there.

After marvelling at the outside and inside of the Duomo, we walked to the Piazza Della Scala, where a statue of Leonardo stands in the centre of the square and opposite is the famous La Scala Opera Theatre. We have to be honest and say that we weren’t overly impressed with the opera theatre and figured that the grandeur of the theatre must be on the inside. Unfortunately we were not able to see the inside. So we kept on and headed to the Castello Sforzesco. This was a huge fortress and castle. At one stage fortifications reached 3 km in length and covered an area of 25.9 hectares. The fort and castle were damage and reconstructed many times over the years due to the many wars that went on. Today you can walk inside the fort area, which is still enormous and can visit the numerous museums that are now housed here. Ofcourse everything closes at lunch time for a few hours so we only got to see a couple before they all closed. We went and had our own a lunch and then wandered back an hour later hoping at least one or two had opened up again but we were out of luck. Admitting defeat we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering from one end of Milan city to the next. We had walked for about 3.5 hours by the time we finally made it back to our hostel.

We freshened up and then headed back out to our local pub down the road for dinner and few drinks for Australia Day. Sadly Australia Day is not recognised like it is in places like London and we were the only Aussies we knew in the area but that was okay we went and had a few drinks to celebrate anyway.

We are off to Switzerland tomorrow; our last country before Jodes leaves me to head back home. I’m sure people back home will be glad to have her back but I will be very sad to see her leave.
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