Trip Start Oct 03, 2006
Trip End Oct 10, 2006

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Flag of Italy  ,
Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Since I was flying Alitalia to Athens, I could not resist taking a few days in Milan.

I checked in at the Westin Palace in the Piazza Republica. I spent a day taking in the major sights including Il Duomo (reputed to be the third largest cathedral), Castello Sforzesco, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. I walked by La Scala but alas there were no performances being held while I was in town. While I had heard that Milan was an industrial, gritty, and without beauty, I thought this financial and fashion capital of Italy had received a bum rap.

I was caught in the Il Cenacolo racket that must have developed post-Da Vinci Code. Local tour operators buy up all of the limited tickets to view 'the Last Supper' at the church of Santa Maria della Grazie so as to collect a toll for a tour of the major sights (all free and walking distance together) while, more tragically, making one sit on a tour bus for a few hours with a gaggle of elderly American tourists.

The shopping in the famous Montenapoleone area--once you figured out which of the half-dozen Prada stores had what you were looking for--was quite good and somewhat cheaper than New York factoring in the VAT refund. And I was hard pressed to find a bad meal during my time in the city as the food fully lived up to its billing as tasty, if rich, fare.

The one annoyance with Milan was the feeling of constantly having to watch out for the tourist-economy prices which I cannot believe that locals have to endure. I kept stumbling into such experiences as the 4 Euro can of Fanta soda at a street vendor (who to add insult to injury tried to charge me 4.50) or the 170 Euro for 35 minutes of car ride to Malpensa Airport (the railway workers chose Friday to strike). But these minor inconveniences did not take away from a nice primer of Milan and yet another new country visited!
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