A 9 day trip! It took me a while to relax and get excited about this one. No matter how many times people told me that everyone in Italy speaks English, or even Spanish, I was nervous going to a country where I couldn’t speak the language fluently (my last big solo trip was to France).
In the end, I got over it.
Milan was my first stop. I landed at Malpensa airport just after 1:00pm and promptly got lost in the airport. If you ever land at Milan’s rundown, out-of-the-city airport, note that the way to get to the trains is down two elevators. If you’re lucky to find both working, you have a nice 20 minute wait to squish yourself and your luggage in before someone else steals your spot.
I got on the more expensive train by accident, found myself in downtown Milan, then wandered in the wrong direction for a while. The 15 minute walk to the hostel took me an hour. Sundays are a quiet time in the city and, although the main streets were busier, I thought I was alone in Italy for a good half an hour!
Sunday afternoon was spent wandering up and down the streets, looking for the buildings I saw in my massive Eyewitness guide book. Those ones are fantastic. The hostel was very cool in the evening, because it took part in the traditional Italian style of eating. As in, buy a drink and eat as many of the ‘aperitivos’ as you’d like. Lots of bread and pasta… This hostel is so popular, that locals come around in the evenings!
Monday morning I visited the Duomo (Milan Cathedral) in the Piazza del Duomo. It’s a Gothic style cathedral and the fourth largest in the world. They began working on it in 1386, but dragged out completion for six centuries. The interior of this cathedral literally took my breath away, something that I had been waiting to happen since moving nearly a year ago.
Milan’s reputation for being a fast-paced, industrial city holds true in my mind. While there were gorgeous (graffiti covered) buildings and a few important monuments, Milan’s style seems more on par with the busy West than the rest of historic Italy.