Retirees go Abroad – Lake Como Italy
Milan/Milano – Farewell
Friday we decided to try the train to go to Milano. Our hotel offers free airport transfers to Malpensa Airport. The train station at the airport provides express transport to Cardarno station in Milano. So we went to the airport on the shuttle and caught the train – 24 euros for both of us and it only takes 29 minutes. No trouble with the train but when we arrived in Milano it is not easy to find the tourism office. We got some directions which led to us purchasing an underground pass for the day (only 4.50 euros). We travelled to Duomo metro station then walked aimlessly till directed once again to the tourism office just near the Castello Sforzesco, just around the corner from Cardarno railway station. I said we wandered aimlessly.
So armed with city maps we go to the Sforzesco Castle.
Along with the Cathedral – Milan’s most famous and much beloved monument – the big Castle is linked to the vicissitudes and dramatic events that the city has been experiencing over the past centuries. For many years, in fact, it has represented a symbol of the power in the hands of the Dukes, as well as of the foreign dominators. Only at the beginning of the 20th century the Castle assumed its distinctive role, becoming a place of culture, which hosted numerous Lombard art collections. The Castle was named after Francesco Sforza, who transformed it into a ducal residence in 1450. But its origins date back to the second half of the 14th century, at the time of Galeazzo II Visconti. ”
For more information go to http://www.milanocastello.it/ing/home.html
We stumbled through the castle grounds (bloody cobblestones maybe romantic or authentic but very hard on the feet) – there does not appear to be much of the military castle left now and the skeleton of the castle now holds multiple museums. I have taken photos of some of the features of the castle but it did not hold much interest for me. The internal walls are pock marked with holes which appeared to be for either ventilation of the passage ways behind or weapons windows. Either way this has been a significant fortress and center of the city with three or more circles of walls outside the main fortress. I hope my photos tell a story. Whilst wandering through in the midst of the castle we found a playful cat chasing lizards in a fountain in the wall. Then another cat and then more and more cats. I think there is a very playful and productive Tom at work here.
Then we walked back to the Cathedral Duomo. Magnificent grand and impressive. Facing Palassio Reale the cathedral started in 1386 and it evolved over the centuries. From the ornate finish on the outside I expected something far more ornate inside but instead it is just huge and dark – not very exciting to my mind. The thing that took our attention most was the floor and the variety of marbles creating amazing tiles for the floor. Having seen enough we headed over to the Galleria Victorio Emanuele II for a spot of shopping – ouch! The shops were very expensive and this worked up my appetite for a spot of lunch. We found a very nice little place in Via Marino and whilst enjoying lunch we worked out we were close to the Museo Teatrale alla Scala.
“The museum, which is adjacent to the opera house in the Piazza della Scala, was opened on 8 March 1913 and was based on a large private collection which had been purchased at auction two years earlier, with funds raised both from government and private sources. The displays include costumes, set designs, autograph scores, and musical instruments of historical interest as well as paintings of musicians and actors, and a range of related paraphernalia including precious ceramic figures portraying characters from the commedia dell’arte, and board games which used to be played in the theatre’s foyer.” Wikipedia
If you want to read more about Duomo then go to http://www.duomomilano.it/en/
and the theatre http://www.teatroallascala.org/en/discover/museum/museum.html
Included below are my photos which include the Steinway gifted to Franz Lizt by the manufacturers which was later subject of litigation to save it for the museum.
We did find something not on the tourist trail and out of the ordinary. Just near to the Duomo was an old building that had been used as a hall of justice from the mid 14th century by the Milanese and later conquerors including the Hapsburgs (Austro-Hungarian empire)and is amongst a group of buildings all with different building styles around one of the city’s old well heads. Oh yes and I found this delightful “Jolly Bar” (don’t let the innocent ice cream signs fool you) and they still use drop sided trams. There may be a lot more churches and museums in Milan but I could not get excited about them or the city unfortunately.
The next day Kerry, after her disappointment in Milan, decided she needed some retail therapy. We were fairly unsuccessful in finding a local venue to quench the appetite for shopping so we returned to the hotel some-what frustrated. As it approach dinner time, we had to make a decision about where to dine. The hotel had been spectacularly unspectacular so we ambled down to the village. There was certainly more life in the village than the Sunday we arrived and we found a cosy and cheap pizza restaurant to dine and watch the world go by and contemplate the return journey to the UK the following day.
We had chosen to stay in a hotel near Malpensa Airport which we thought would give us best access to the lakes. We had flown into the airport at Begamo (which of course is not called Begamo Airport just to make it difficult when consulting google maps to plan your journey) so we had to drive for an hour across Milan and hope the traffic was not a problem. Well early Sunday morning in Italy no one is on the roads so we arrived two hours earlier than required. Murphy’s Law! Isn’t that the way of things.
We had an uneventful flight to East Midlands and decided we would try the bus back to Long Eaton. It was magic and only 7 pound for the two of us. A lot different to 25 pound for the early morning taxi.