Family Diary August 2009
Day 1: Train from Verona to Milan, 1½ hours. Rather hot because the air conditioning broke.
Checked in to Hotel De La Ville, booked through Citalia.
Nice hotel with good facilities. Looked at pool (small), bar (pleasant) and fitness room (looked okay.)
Walked around Milan looking for somewhere suitable for a family to eat that did not involve taking out a mortgage. Found a pub, which had a free buffet (which was not especially nice) with drinks plus you could order food. We had lasagna and pizzas.
Wandered around the cathedral, which was very pretty.
There is a nice big square outside where the whole world hangs out.
The outside of the cathedral is covered with some pretty cool gargoyles.
It took over 600 years to build – which seems excessive until you see it. I expect it caused a few arguments at the time.
Strolled around some posh shops trying on perfumes.
Day 2: Buffet breakfast. We were quite late in eating and it looked like it had been there for a while, though the selection was good. The best bit was a little news sheet that you could pick up as you went in (in various languages.)
Walked around Milan.
Found a ferrari shop.
Bought a ferrari bag.
Also bought a ferrari hat for a friend’s new baby (my family felt he would have sufficient teddy bears and cute clothes.)
Saw a few pretty squares and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Which sounds like another church but is actually a four storey arcade of shops. I am not much interested by shops but the arcade was worth a visit.
I sat in the cathedral square and drank espresso while the family continued shopping. It was the most expensive coffee I have ever sipped, but I told myself I was paying for the atmosphere, not the coffee (or the dirty table.) Watched the world go by.
Bought some Dolce & Gabbana perfume (not sure how my daughter managed to persuade me into that one) and wandered around with the D & G bag pretending to be rich.
Sandwich/burger from a food hall.
Boys swam in pool on hotel roof (were not impressed by how shallow it was.)
We went to an art gallery. Saw some fantastic art (and some really bad art.) We had wanted to see ‘The Last Supper’ at Santa Maria delle Grazie, however tickets need to be prebooked a couple of months in advance, which we hadn’t realised.
Went to hotel gym with boys. They went in the jacuzzi (which was broken). We used a few machines but all the best ones were broken or had pieces missing. Shame.
Ate in McDonalds. By far the poshest McDonalds I have ever been in!
Walked down to Sforza Castle. This is a fifteenth century castle and at night it is floodlit. There is a big fountain in front and it is very pretty. Had ice creams.
David and I had drinks in the hotel bar. Pleasant.
Day 3: I went to Mass in the cathedral (Duomo). People were queuing to go inside but if you are attending Mass you can go straight in. You need to be appropriately dressed (covered shoulders and knees.) I found it hard to follow the Italian, though there were some discernible words. I just liked being there.
Walked back to the castle. It was way too hot and felt a lot further during daytime. Drank lemonade in the gardens.
The kids stood in the fountains (other people were too, so I figured they wouldn’t get shot.) A man approached David with some English passports he had ‘found’. He wanted David to go with him to a phone box to phone the owners. David said he would use his mobile at which point the man became very aggressive and snatched them back. I took photos of him which I later showed some police who were in the cathedral square but they were completely disinterested.
Dinner in a restaurant at the top of La Rinascente which is a shopping mall selling designer stuff (pretty boring unless you like that sort of thing) but has a very interesting food hall at the top and a restaurant on the roof. It was lovely, we sat in the balmy evening air over looking the gargoyles on the Duomo. Very atmospheric.
Had drinks (and hot chocolates) in the hotel bar and played cards.
Day 4: Collected hire car and drove to Lake Como.