Lets start with the food.
So it just felt like we could not find food for real or maybe we just wanted to be cheap.
(Thinking back to the last time we visited Italy, we had a few 4 course meals and spent about 2 hours eating-I am waiting for those days to return.)
We did not want to have Indian, Chinese, etc since we had that at home. We wanted to follow the mantra “when in Rome” but we really needed a Italian grandma to cook for us to really taste some magic
We tried to have real Italian food and really enjoy it– that did not happen. We had pasta and pizza in a touristy restaurant only one night and well we were not happy. Also with the late times we waited till the places opened and were the first people there.
The second time we had pizza, it was at a chain that had apparently been around for a while–Spontini- pretty good, if you ask me. The pizza was thick and flavorful–my husband had the roasted vegetables (EGGPLANT, PEPPERS, MUSHROOMS), and I had the spicy sausage. When the pizza came I felt it could feed an army. We ordered a slice and a half which is pretty ridiculous. Of course no worker in a restaurant is going to tell you that 1 slice is enough–its all about the Dollars/Euros . So we had some extra and that was part of our dinner. Lucky us!
We tried Filipino Food. (my earlier blog YUM Taste of the Philippines) That was interesting. I must say its always great to see your country men in a far away land. I always secretly want to know what their story is–how did they get there, what is their experience. It is mostly for the new waves of immigration-in my lifetime.
In terms of surroundings, as for me I like to just see the place in its natural element, not too much direction and not too much tourist. We visited Carrefour, like a Walmart, always fun. We took the old fashion tram and the metro as well as the above ground train. We had to get the full experience. We missed on the electric tram–so sleek and quiet.
We visited a public park where my toddler meshed with the crowd of Italian children running after a man blowing bubbles. We also stopped off at a winter carnival. We even walked through a sleepy upscale neighborhood. The look was very Washingtonian with its grey concrete buildings and large doors, and not necessarily fancy entrance ways. You just knew that behind those walls was something amazing and you will never know because well, unless your life changes 180 degrees you can only imagine.
We go off at random stops and one just happened to be next to the US Consulate. We went through neighborhoods and it was like they were still stuck in the 80’s with graffiti on the walls. We only see that in selected areas here in NY but it seems that it is more plentiful in Milan.
We saw a beautiful palace that turned out to be a cemetery, that looked more like a sculpture garden. People were just Sunday walking to me, but actually they were probably visiting family I am sure.
We went to the hinterlands. We took an alternative way to get to the city–we wanted to experience the other areas–the road less traveled. It was on the older above ground lines and it was some downright weird stuff. There were tracks to nowhere and under the track where we waited the land by the tracks had wild grass, men using the bathroom, dark corners and some kind of access point for random people to enter. In the distance was a Circus Soleil looking tent but when we got closer we realized it was not but a small circus, maybe gypsy, we will never know. Some places looked really livable and others just not and they were kind of mixed in. I guess that is the beauty. I must admit that for a small minute I felt scared when I saw some younger people (all men) but then I was like, they are brown people like me-can’t let media and all that stuff get to us. There were some women and I kind of felt better-not sure why. Then I saw the non brown people and I was still scared-it was the scruffy scrappy part of town and some small part of me got a pores raised feeling anyway. I was with my husband so I kind of brushed it off as we had passed some of his countrymen on the way to the station. In addition it was gloomy outside so it just was not inviting along with the feelings.
Even past our hotel, it looked kind of undesirable but then again, behind the facade it could be great. The streets were not inviting though. Some parts looked like parts of the “third world,” just for the prettiness factor and the uneasy feeling. I mean in retrospect, Milan does not feel like a London or an Oslo or a Tokyo. Some parts do but those parts that I was in, did not. On the map, just beyond our area it started to be just land. I wished we had a local who could take us ‘behind the scenes’.
The surprise for me was the Central Station. It, again was lacking in lots of food choices but on a real note, outside there were what looked like brown people congregating-lets says Migrants maybe. They were just milling around and idling you can say. By myself I might have chosen a different path as there were many people and it could be kind of intimidating to any one. There were some military patrols hanging out on the opposite side of the station. Did I feel better, somewhat, but with guns out I always feel like there can be some craziness about to happen and I will be in the middle of it. Within a 2 block radius the streets were dark and there were only certain areas with lots of lights and movements. We opted to stay close to the light.
One highlight for me was the Armani Silos. Look it up. I liked looking at the evolution of clothes from about the 70s till now. He may have even had the 60s. I cannot remember at this time. The way from the train station to the Silos was very not what you would expect. It felt like a reclaimed inner city but it was not too far away from a popular area (Navigli District) so who knows.
Check out some pics of the trip.