Seeing Milan‘s Duomo lit up on a clear and crisp autumn night is just about the best introduction to the city that I can imagine. The husband and I wandered around the square, looking up at the beautiful cathedral – blissfully almost entirely free of scaffolding – and just enjoying the scene. It was one of those great “sharp intake of breath” moments when we exited the Metro station, because the one we came up introduced us to the square in front of the Duomo with our backs to the famous church – so it wasn’t until we were almost at the top of the stairs that we turned and saw the lovely facade.
We strolled through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the incredible shopping center (though it feels somewhat insulting to call it that), and watched people come up one after the other to spin on the little bull’s balls. The hole where his testicles used to be is so deep now, after generations of people following the ball-spinning tradition, that a woman who came up wearing stilettos was able to put almost her entire heel into the hole!
We gazed in the Galleria’s shop windows, expecting to be horrified by the prices (especially given the current dreadful exchange rate) and were pleasantly surprised to find that we might actually be able to afford a nice thing or two for ourselves. We had pizzas at a bustling restaurant near Duomo Square that said it had been there since 1934 (and which probably makes it rather young by local standards).
It was when we were leaving the restaurant that we started hearing the chants of the protest which had formed in Duomo Square, which of course we had to investigate. We ended up getting gelato midway through, even though it was pretty chilly out, and we happened to buy it in a shop run by two Chinese women. They switched effortlessly back and forth between Italian and Chinese, causing our heads to spin a little.
When we finally got back to the hotel, I was exhausted after being awake for too many hours in a row. But even in that semi-comatose state I’m usually in when arrive after an international flight, I was pretty content. And so far it doesn’t matter how many times I return to this glorious country, I’m always awed by it. Let’s hope that never changes.