Milan is a truly beautiful city to visit and a must-see if you’re traveling through Italy. A good place to start is the Piazza Del Duomo, which is Milan’s center square.
Apart from the latest in fashion and amazing food, you’ll see Milan’s Duomo, which is a massive mesmerizing gothic-looking cathedral church.
Building began on the Duomo in 1386 and wasn’t completed until 1812. Even then, missing arches and statues, stained glass and gates were still being added until 1965. Something that took this long to complete and is this amazing must be seen in real-life to be believed. There’s an energy surrounding that building that you’ll feel as you gaze in amazement.
If you’re on a budget though, you’ll have to be careful eating in the local establishments. Although the service and food is good and the scenery is awesome, you pay top-dollar for it. In terms of Australian dollars, we were enticed into a nice little restaurant five minutes walk from the city center, where we ordered a $12 AU pizza and a coke. We sat inside for the air-conditioning, because it was summer and hot outside, and when we left fifteen minutes later we found we were charged $10 AU for the luxury of cool-air and $7 AU for the coke! And it was a 330ml can too!
Next up we visited the Galleria Vittorio Emanuale to do some window-shopping and admire the amazing architecture. Apparently this place is the first of the whole “shopping complex” phenomenon and modern shopping culture is based on its architectural multi-store concept. Oh, and we wanted to stamp on some bull testicles. Yes, that’s right, in the center of the Galleria, there’s a mosaic on the ground with a picture of a bull, entirely made up of tiles, and his testicles have a rounded metal cup on them. (Well, it was once level, but has been made into a “cup” because of thousands of people grinding on them!) You’re supposed to put your heel in the cup and twist around three times and be granted good luck. The only problem is, the locals think you’re a sap if you believe in it and the real story apparently involves a guy called Giuseppe Mengoni who designed the galleria. He plummeted to his death only weeks before the Galleria was completed, and now it is said you can avoid his bad-luck by grinding the living-hell out of the bull’s testies. Although we were glared-at, we had a go anyway.
Feeling bullet-proof with our new good-luck buzz surrounding our existence, we decided to compensate for the expensive soft-drink and camp 20 minutes out of town at an awesome campsite called Citta Di Milano. We had a car, but the next day we caught a bus and train back into the city for about 3 euros each and it only took twenty minutes.
The following day we ventured back into town to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” with our very own eyes. It is kept under lock and key in the refectory of the 15th century Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. It was amazing to see, not only for the religious value, but also for artistic and fame reasons. The same ticket we purchased at Santa Maria delle Grazie got us free entry into Milan’s most famous art gallery, the Brera Art Gallery. It is one of the most important of the world for its prestigious collections of ancient and modern painting. Collections come from the Napoleon government period and although every one of them has a strong religious value, some of them are extremely violent and really get you wondering what life was like living during that special period on earth.
Our brain’s sapped dry from the saturation of incredible and famous historical art, we traveled back to the campsite.
My girlfriend and I have started making up these “conditions” for good campsites. For us to stay there, we are looking for a campsite that has grass instead of sand or rocks, shady trees instead of open fields, hot water (you’d be surprised!) wireless internet access (hopefully free or at least cheap) and a great view (ocean, lake or mountains). Citta Di Milano had all of these, except for a view. But to make up for the view, they had a giant water-slide park next door called Gardaland Waterpark. Camping customers got 40% off, so that worked for us. Oh, and they also had a petting-zoo with local animals, which is also a bit of fun.
We stayed a couple of nights, but one night the owner of the place saw me in the bar area and came up to me with a complimentary tequila slushy. As you can probably guess we hit it off right away. He overheard my aussie-accent a little earlier and wanted to talk to me about Australia. He spoke good english and told me he loved Australia. He said the only reason he opened up his caravan park in Milan was because he and his girlfriend were traveling around Australia and had just bought an old-bomb car to get around in. The day after they’d bought it, they were just outside Port Macquarie in New South Wales when the car broke down. It cost half their budget to get it fixed. They had to spend a week in the local caravan park and they loved it so much that they decided when they got back to Milan, they were going to start one up. 25 years later and it’s cranking, believe me.
Rob Kaay is an Australian author & musician
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