Milan and Lake Como

Trip Start Jan 14, 2008
Trip End Apr 28, 2008

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Monday, February 18, 2008

This last week was a very busy one!  I had my first student council meeting and I' m really excited about being apart of this now.  We are going to try to organize a lot of fun events that people can come to, and hopefully if people have any problems right now, we will try to figure out a way to make the situation better.  It' s been fun trying to brainstorm different things that we could do as groups!
We had a guest speaker in my Italian Life and Culture class who talked about the opera.  It was really interesting because I didn' t know anything about how they work.  There is a lot more that goes into them and when we watched parts of one in class, I was able to understand it much better after being told how they really work!
Thursday was Valentine' s Day so a bunch of the girls that I know all met up after class to go out for an Apertivo.  We don' t have these in the States, but I' m pretty sure they are the best idea in thee world!  Most restaurants/bars have these and you pay 5 to 8 Euros and then you get a drink and can eat any of the food/appetizers they have sitting out.  Most of the time a drink alone would cost you that much, so it' s a good deal to get to eat too!  We all had a really good time because this Apertivo had a lot of different food besides Italian.  It was nice to get some new flavors in my mouth!
Friday, Amy and I left to go to Milan after our International Business class.  We took the train there and it was nice because we were able to take a nap since it was about a 3 hour trip.  My uncle Brad knew someone who used to work for him that lives in Milan, so he told us about him, and we were able to go to the hotel that he worked at to meet up with him because we were going to be staying with him for the weekend.  Luca gaves us a map and for the rest of the afternoon/night we did some sight-seeing!  We saw the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Castello Sforzesco, and lots more!  We stopped for dinner at a cool little café called Bufalo.  They had a good Apertivo there too and the two guys that were working there spoke English and were friendly and fun to talk to.  Amy and I decided to take the underground Metro back to Luca' s hotel and then once he got off of work, we went back to his house.  It was fun to get to stay at a house and experience a different side of Italian culture. 
Saturday we had to wake up a little early because there was a lot of things that we were going to try to fit into the day!  We stopped at the local mall in Luca' s town and Amy and I ended up buying these teddy bears from this really popular stuffed animal store, Trudi.  We hadn' t seen or been to a mall since we have been here so we thought it was really fun and Luca just thought we were crazy.  Then we picked up his friend Simone.  He didn' t speak a lot of English but he spoke enough to have a little conversation with and it was kind of nice actually because then we got to try to practice our Italian too!  We went to Via Buenos Aries because that is where a lot of the good shopping is.  We mostly just walked and looked around, but I did buy a hat because it was freezing cold (to us, I know you are all much colder at home!)
Finally after a morning of walking around, we went to Santa Maria delle Grazie where Leonardo Da Vinci ' s The Last Supper painting is.   This is a fresco style painting and because of this it is deteriorating quickly.  Luca said that within the next year they might close down public viewing because the oxygen isn' t good for it.  We were very lucky to get to see it because usually you have to buy tickets very far in advance, but somehow Luca got some and you have to go at a specific time because you are only allowed to look at it for about 10-15 minutes.  For me, it was the highlight of our trip to Milan.  It also made me want to watch The Da Vinci Code all over again! Haha!
Next, we went to the Sant' Ambrogio church, Teatrale alla Scalla, Civico Museo Archeologico, and back to the Duomo.   The outside of the Duomo is very impressive and amazing to look at.  We went inside and also down into the basement part where there are some tombs.  It always creeps me out a little to see the tombs in the churches knowing that there is a body inside of it.
Luca had to go back to work, so the rest of us walked around and went to a cool area on the south side of Milan for another Aperitvo.  (Yeah, we had them three nights in a row).  We went to the Blue Canal which had some awesome decoration and good food once again.  There were a lot of bars and restaurants along the river that we were by, so we just went from place to place.  We were trying to find some live music, but didn' t luck out.  We did, however, have to stop at a crepe shop because Amy and I have wanted to split one for a long time.  We got a Nutella and Banana crepe and it was delicious.  Anything with Nutella is going to be good though!
Sunday was another cold and cloudy day, but we still wanted to go to Lake Como anyways.  We picked Simone up again and started out little road trip north to Bellagio and Como.  Driving along the coast line was really pretty.  I' m glad I didn' t get car sick though because they are such windy and narrow roads.  It was crazy because people were biking and running on them too which I though not so smart because Italians still drive fast on those roads.  Bellagio is really pretty and George Clooney has a house there.  The tried to buy the gardens of the Villa Melzi, but they wouldn' t let him.  After that we took the scenic route to Como where we passed a lot of other small towns on the coast.  It was cool because there were the mountains and also palm trees in all the towns.  Strange mix!  Finally, we got to Como and it the largest of all the towns.  We saw the Duomo they have there, too.  There are known for their silk in Como, but since it was a Sunday, none of the shops were really open.  We stopped for lunch there though and got to walk along by the harbor.  It was nice that Luca was able to drive us around there because the trains don' t go there, so we would have never been able to go there otherwise. 
We took the train home that afternoon and got home at a good hour.  When we got back to our apartment we had a great surprise from our landlady... a microwave!!!  The oven wasn' t working, and she said it was too hard/expensive to fix, so she got us a microwave instead.  We were pretty excited and I think I' ll end up using that more than I would have used the oven anyways. 
The weather is supposed to be nice this week and I' m looking forward wandering around Florence between my classes again this week!  I always seem to be walking and find something new I haven' t seen yet, so hopefully I can continue to do that and visit some of the museums here too!  This weekend' s trip is to Rome, so I have more to look forward to at the end of the week!
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