Sunday, September 06, 2009

What to do, what to do.....????


(remember, I'm playing catch-up so, although we are currently in school mode, I'm re-living the end of summer)

I looked over my Chamonix posts and decided, I really covered it. The only thing missing is a picture of our car going in and out of the garage - with mouths dropping open at the sight. I'm not joking - I had a man drop his jaw and wag his head back and forth while I pulled carefully out.

I draw attention to myself in vehicles even without a fancy sportscar. Although my FB analysis says I should be driving a Corvette. Hey, I wouldn't mind.

Anyway, I said goodbye to Mom & J and headed back to Switzerland. We had about 6 days and then Bart's sister arrived from Minnesota. We took her up to Wengen for her first week and hiked her boots off but, I've done enough mountain pictures recently. We're going to Italy instead.

Mind you, we ONLY went to Italy, in August, when all the Italians have fled the cities for the coasts, because S was here and there was no other time to take her. We chose Milan because 1) we hadn't been there yet outside of a train connection 2) there would be Italian food and 3) it's only 3.5 hrs by car from our place.

We enjoyed our brief visit and I have plenty of pictures to share. Milan doesn't need more than a brief visit unless you are going to do some shopping. It's hard to do a lot of shopping when approximately 40% of the city is shut down during August.

Note to those who wish to visit Italy: August is not your month. Unless you have leisure time and don't care if local shops are open. AND, you like it hot.

The Italians go "on holiday" in August. We experienced this last year while we stayed in Chianti. It's hot in August (many homes don't have air conditioning and we're talking Central Valley California hot) and they go to the coasts or travel to other 'cooler' countries. Many shops/restaurants close on the first weekend of August and don't re-open until the last weekend of August.

Other tips for Italy - always carry tissues and hand sanitizer (for the ladies WC) with you. That's probably the singlemost important tip I can give you.

In spite of the heat - and we melted in it, we had a fun time and I'm happy to share:

Just loved this old wooden tram. You only see them once in a while and I find them pretty cool. Our view of the Duomo that morning - it is a beautiful building. It's one of the 4 largest cathedrals in the world (St. Peter's Basilica, Seville's Duomo and a new Ivory Coast cathedral are the other 3). It's been recently 'cleaned' and is bright and like a fancily decorated cake - ornate and delicate.

I absolutely love the floor.
OK - I will admit these children do not look happy to be in church. The blur you see is Rachel's fan. We had been walking around in there and it was, stifling hot and only 11am. I will also point out Kendra's sweater tied around Rachel's shoulders.
Ladies - when in Rome (or any other Italian city) and visiting any of the churches, you should be prepared for dress codes upon entering. They let Kendra (la bambina) by with spaghetti straps but I had Rachel covered up before we got to the door. There are no bare shoulders, low necklines or shorts allowed. Ladies (young & old) must cover the shoulders and if wearing shorts, wrap a sweater/scarf around. Some cathedrals provide 'paper scarves' but many don't and if you are not properly dressed, you will find yourself buying an 10 Euro 'pashmina' at the local tourist trap so you can see the Cathedral you traveled 4,000 miles to see.
Bart and I ventured up to the top/roof of the Duomo - it's worth the 8 Euro/person elevator fare. Great views of the city and the amazing rooftop.

We had a great time exploring this other side of the Duomo. And by now have lost about 3lbs in water weight. Fortunately, there was a drinking fountain there on the roof. Hallelujah!
Here are the girls in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II with it's incredible roofs linking 2 Piazza's together. Reputed to be the forerunner of our modern day shopping mall.
We headed to the "Fashion Triangle" after lunch. Milan is one of the 3 largest fashion capitol's of the world along with Paris and New York ( I still say London should be in there now but I get boo-hoo'd from some). I loved the 'window shopping.' I can window shop all day and be perfectly happy going home having only purchased a cup of coffee or something to sustain myself.
Yes - this says it all. I'm sure the security guard inside the YSL door was thrilled.
There were these cute Fiat planters lining the street in various places.
Rachel waited a while but it seemed the Lamborghini owner wasn't showing up to give her a ride....a little ostentatious, don't you think? Maybe a Ferrari instead?
These dresses caught my eye from the street and I had to show the girls. They were absolutely gorgeous. The girls immediately started "OK, I'd wear this one for in the church and then this other one for when you eat, what's that called? oh yeah, the reception......"
Here is the handbag that I joke about owning:
Isn't it pretty? I'm in the market for a new 'bag' but I'm a bit picky. I don't switch out purses so once my stuff goes in, it stays in. I've had my current purse for 3 years. So I want something that will last but is cute and versatile.
However, I need one that doesn't come with a 1,500chf price tag. Even I can't amortize/justify that one.

We did do a little shopping:
Everyone cooling off at the fountain in front of the Castello Sforzesco (palace of the Visconti family):

Had a great dinner at a restaurant recommended by the hotel.
Our very kind and funny waiter - claiming we were on a diet as we couldn't finish our dinners. Portions were a little bigger than we've grown accustomed to. And he brought out the Limoncello - compliments of the house. I'm the only one who likes it (dare I admit that on the blog? It's for medicinal purposes - a digestive!).
It was fun sharing a bit of Italy with S. A new place for us but comfortable. We had a lot of fun and a good experience in Milan but - I would recommend it as a short visit. We'll be going to Florence in November though. We did a day trip there from Rome 2 years ago and it's been on my "I'd like to go back and spend a little more time" list.
Buona sera!

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