Around Northern Italy in a Fiat Panda

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The Contessa and the Commendatore Visit the Home Country

Monday Oct. 8: Milano

food & lodging

Food & lodging notes

The airport bus left us off at the railroad station. Faced with what looked like a 45-minute line to get a taxi, we shouldered various luggage and set off on foot for the City Hotel, which we found after minimal casting about. We left the luggage while a room was readied (it was early afternoon) and grabbed some lunch in the quiet urban shopping mall affair behind the hotel.

Clean and rested, jet-lagged but impatient for Italy, we set off on foot towards the center of Milano and the cathedral (called the Duomo, dome). The goal was mostly to walk and wander, to get a flavor of the place. We located the Museum of Modern Art where an exhibition centering around Morandi was on display. The pleasure afforded by this and other modest collections of purely local interest we visited is the chance to see perfectly wonderful stuff by people who never quite achieved international notice. Such galleries and museums don’t attract many tourists, and their calm atmosphere adds to their appeal. The visitors are there because they want to be, not because they “should” be.

We found the via della Spiga, Milan’s toniest shopping area, without looking for it or knowing it existed. Glad to have changed out of travelling clothes. In the window of an antique store we saw a pocket globe and went in to inquire about it. The dealer let us hold it and examine it. It was made in 1790 in London, a perfect map / globe 2-1/2 inches in diameter that fits neatly into a spherical case of thin leather; and the inside of the case is a map of the sky. I’ve coveted such an object for years, but had never seen one in the flesh. We’re not sure whether the dealer was just being extraordinarily nice, or whether we looked to him like the sort of people who could spend $8,200 for such a splendid object.

Holding it once was completely satisfying.

All in all we walked the city for six hours that first day, and after dinner treated ourselves to a cab ride back to the hotel.