After a two hour flight we reached Malpensa, a large but not hectic airport just half an hour from the city centre. It had been a busy morning and, albeit tired, we were excited for the weekend ahead. Another half an hour goes by (of which entailed various attempts at asking fellow commuters where ‘el trainio’ was) before we made our way to Cadorna station, where our mini holiday would begin. In just five stops our time to disembark was upon us and, for a few brief moments, I tried to embrace everything around me and log it somewhere in the depths of my mind. It was hot, but not uncomfortably so, and the tangy scent of an orange being peeled in the seat behind me floated lazily through the carriage. As the breaks screeched we looked eagerly outside to get a hint of the city we were about to explore. Yet peering in on us was nothing more than a red brick wall with many tangled branches creeping over its top, almost as though they were reaching out at us. For those few moments we just stood there, gazing at ruby bricks and the sunlight that squeezed through the gaps in those arm-like branches. Neither of us could wait to see what lay ahead of this wall. Neither of us could wait to get off and see Milan.
El Duomo di Milano
There it stood. Walls so tall they seemed never-ending, a door so grand I wondered if I should bow before it, sculptures so lifelike I feared they would flinch if a pigeon were to accompany them. It’s not very often a building can make you so curious. But then again, it’s not very often you come across a building like this one.
The angelic yet hostile faces carved into the buildings exterior stared down at us as we stood at its feet and, I have to say, it was pretty overwhelming. It was so detailed, so intricate, so majestic. As I lifted my head to defy their stares I felt a whole cocktail of emotions being stirred up inside of me. I was intrigued and in awe, but also something else. Something else that I still can’t put my finger on. Something else that, only these walls, made me feel.
We walked towards the entrance door that was so beautifully detailed, seemingly portraying mini snippets of the bible, where we were told by the armed guards that we simply could not enter the building. Apparently my collar bone and shoulders were too exposed to enter such a place of worship and unless-they were covered up and kept out of sight -much like the contents of this cathedral- then we were staying put. With no means of concealing my décolleté we had no option but to re-think our itinerary. At this moment, the whole structure appeared to have intensified, as though we’d been defeated, and the feeling of inferiority, alongside curiosity, grew and grew.
We then found that my oh-so unacceptably exposed shoulders were not such as issue if we wanted to go up and explore the Duomo’s rooftop terrace. Climbing the steps to the peak of the cathedral, observing it’s spiked towers, tiny windows, and scary gargoyles, reminded me of the Disney film ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame’…. you’ll understand why it was this childhood movie that I recalled when you see my photos below…
As the cool breeze danced around in the Italian heat we admired the city beneath us. From here, I felt slightly more at ease with the intensity of the building of which I was on top of. I was no longer beneath it, looking up, but I stood still and tall, as though I were carved into its structure, and gazed down, with it, at the tiny moving dots on the ground bellow.
Inside el Duomo
The next day I was thought ahead and, although it was going to hit 32 degrees, I brought my jacket along with me in preparation of entering el Duomo. We collected our tickets, had a look around the museum del Duomo, which was really interesting, and then headed over to join the queue of shawls and cardigans.
From the inside, it looked even bigger than before and everything you’d expect in a cathedral was intensified x100. The stained glass was busier and more vibrant than any other stain glass I’d ever ever seen, the statues were too realistic for comfort, the columns were dauntingly tall and symmetrical, and the pews were- like an army of ants- perfectly aligned and never-ending….
During our short stay we discovered that the city’s most renowned dish, famous for it’s unusual taste, bright colour and the story behind it, was created completely by mistake. The Milanese favourite consists of Arborio risotto rice, cream, white wine and sometimes vegetables or seafood but traditionally it’s served on it’s own. I won’t bore you with the entire story but it went something along the lines of …. “Once upon a time a jealous man decided to sabotage the wedding of a woman he once loved by attempting to ruin their evening meal…. He thought that by adding heaps of saffron and other spices to the risotto dish bubbling away in the kitchen, that the wedding guests would be insulted and horrified and would leave in disgust. However, the food was served and yes, the jaws of the guests dropped open as the ghastly yellow mush was presented before them, but as a polite gesture one guest tried it… and then another… and another …and another…. until soon, every plate was scraped and licked clean. It was at that moment that ‘Rissotto alla Milano’ was born.
So of course, when my Malaysian Milanese waiter suggested I try the famous saffron risotto (yep, that’s right, from Malaysian, in Milan) I had to try it. Mine was a slightly tweaked version and was served with zucchini and lime infused prawns. Delisioso!
Other than the delicious, yellow, mushy stuff that the Milanese are seemingly very proud of, the city is also celebrated for its Pizzas (of course) as well as its coffee, pastries and ice creams… or should I say ‘gelatos’
It’s exactly what you’d expect from the world’s oldest shopping mall. The extravagant architecture, beautiful art work and carvings, and the palatial ceilings was the home to some of the worlds most notable high fashion brands such as Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and, not to forget, some of the most expensive restaurants in the country
Here is where Anna Vitality had to take a back seat. Literally. No more “how rustic and picturesque is this cobbled street?” and “Oh, I know, let’s go to the Da Vinci museum”. No. This was the place where James was in his element and no matter what I could have said or done, he was staying…. for as long as he pleased.
F1 race car debris hung on the walls, £18,000 model cars were encased in glass containers, Ferrari branded helmet bags, brief cases, jackets, were price-tag-lessly displayed on shelves and the 2 Million Euro racing simulator just sat there on the lower floor, waiting to be used, to be ragged around Monza and Silverstone. Yep…. We were there a while.
I’m not into football. I’m not really into any sport. I love to keep fit, I love to swim and ski and I love watching athletics but, as for team sports, I’m just not that into it.
Yet, visiting San Siro was one of my favourite parts of our trip. For a football stadium, it really was something else. I could picture the crowds. I could almost hear them. I could envision the colours of the different t-shirts and could hear the roars that would come from them. That would come from these very seats. It was old and dated, but grand nevertheless.
And there you have it. That was a small summary of my trip to one of my most favourite of City’s to date. In a separate blog I will share with you guys my ‘City Break Lookbook’ and also the full vlog of our weekend away will be up on the Anna Vitality YouTube channel very soon. as well as on James’ channel: ‘CF10 official’