Fashion Week in Milan
This past weekend was our first travel weekend of the year! It took us the entire week before to figure out where we were going to go, how we were going to get there, & where we were going to stay. We definitely realized that it takes a lot of planning & organization to take a trip, even if it’s just for the weekend. Of course you can always be more spontaneous too. One group went to Lake Como for the weekend and ended up sleeping in a park…& I thought hostels were bad. We thought, since it was our first trip, we would plan a little more so we wouldn’t have to break out the hammocks. We found train tickets to Milan & began looking for places to stay, but everything was booked. We tried for hours to find something fairly cheap but close enough to the city with hardly any luck. It wasn’t till we did a little investigating that we found out it was Fashion Week in Milan! Of course now we had all the more reason to go! Luckily, we found a hotel just outside the city & started packing.
We arrived in Milan on the train in the afternoon & set out to find our hotel so we could hit the city that night. Finding this hotel, however, was not as easy as it seemed. After an information desk, an adorable old man with his English-speaking daughter on the phone, three university students, & a cab ride, we finally made it to the hotel…several hours later. At one point we even questioned whether the hotel really existed or not, no one ever having heard of it before. Lesson #1: Google the directions to your hotel before you leave! Things definitely could have been worse, but it could only get better from that point.
We got real directions & headed into the city to find some much needed dinner & possibly a drink or two. After doing a loop of the city core, we sat down at a little restaurant with a patio & let the stress of the day melt away with some delicious pasta & a minty mojito. However, it wasn’t just the mojito that perked us up that night. During dinner, we discovered Spanish is a lot like Italian. Natalie can speak Spanish fluently & being in Italy, she was finding that she could understand what people were saying, even though they were speaking Italian! She decided to test out her Spanish on the waiter & sure enough, it worked! Lesson #2: Use your assets! Before we left, we asked the waiter, Phillipo (who Natalie had been chatting with in Spanish for a while now), where his favourite place to eat was – we wanted to know where real Italians eat. He simply told us to “get out of the city”. After getting a name and address of one of their recommended restaurants, we grabbed some gelato & explored Milan before making the trek back home.
The next morning we got up bright & early so we could hit the city & see everything we needed to see! Our first stop was the Duomo. Walking up the stairs, out of the Metro, the first thing you see is the magnificent cathedral. The second largest in the world, the Duomo is in the heart of the city of Milan. After going inside & paying our two euros to take photos, we explored the cathedral, admiring everything from the stain glass windows, to the huge columns in between.
Our next stop was right next-door. The art gallery across the street displayed works of art from the time of Picasso up until more modern art. There was a variety of work ranging in time period, medium, & style. In one section of the gallery, we had to sign a release form in order to enter some of the exhibits. The most exciting piece in the gallery was definitely the mirror maze. We probably spent more time in there than in any of the other exhibits…sorry Picasso.
Next was the Sforza castle. After a short walk, we made our way into the walls of the ominous fortress. We explored the open-air courtyards of the castle & tried to write down some facts to use for our humanities assignments. Even in Milan, we can’t escape the homework that is waiting for us back in Lausanne!
After reaching the end of the castle, we decided to walk through the beautiful park just outside & find some lunch. On the other side of the park was the Arco della Pace, a huge arch that happen to be surrounded by crowds of people. As we got closer, we saw that the monument was decked out with tents & a red carpet for Fashion Week. Turns out we had run right into a Cavalli fashion show! People were making their way into the tent, flashing glitzy invitations to security. Of course we couldn’t get in, but we happen to find a pizza place with a patio that had front row seats! Although we couldn’t see the runway, the street may have well been a runway itself. We saw all the guests making their way in, dressed head to toe in the latest designer fashions while the paparazzi snapped photos. Models posed, flipped their hair & showed off their heels while we stuffed our faces with a pizza the size of our heads.
It had nearly been 24 hours, so we decided we needed more gelato. We happen to walk past a gelato shop with a line out the door, so we joined the line. Somehow, Caroline & I ended up with three scoops each in a waffle cone. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not complaining. Looking at the pictures of the gelato again now makes me wish I had bought a tub. Let’s be serious though, the tub would not have made it home…I probably would have eaten it all on the train.
There is one thing you cannot visit Milan without seeing…The Last Supper! The painting is located at the Santa Maria delle Grazie, a tiny church in Milan. People from all over the world, no matter their religion, come to this church to see the iconic painting made famous by “The Da Vinci Code”. However, apparently you need to make a reservation in advance as they only let 30 people in at a time to see the masterpiece. Guess who didn’t have a reservation? So we went to Milan & didn’t see The Last Supper. There was nothing left to do but drown our sorrows in some retail therapy.
Milan is known worldwide for its fashion. We walked the streets of the city, window shopping & popping in stores, admiring all the designer clothes we couldn’t afford. All the designers were throwing private parties in their stores honour of fashion week. Once again, we weren’t invited. So we decided to get something we could afford…macarons!
I love macarons & Laduree is famous for them. Originally from Paris, their stores are beautiful little boutiques, filled with bright & delicate macarons. I simply couldn’t choose just one, so I got a “Rose Petal” & a classic “Vanille”. Let’s just say I will be going to Laduree in Lausanne at least once a week now.
We ended off the night by heading to the restaurant recommended by Phillipo the night before, a place called “Nabucco”. We ended up walking down a tiny alley, the cobblestones all lit up by little restaurants & shops lining either side. We eventually ran into it, lit up by a small neon sign.
He had told us to ask for “Signore Pietro”. When we mentioned his name & told him Phillipo had sent us, we were taken upstairs to an empty section of the restaurant & treated to champagne, biscotti’s, & Limoncello, all while we feasted on a traditional & authentic two-course Italian meal. We couldn’t believe it. We started to laugh as we looked back on how miserable our first couple hours in Milan were compared to how we were spending our last few. We had such a good time that we decided to go back & thank Phillipo, which resulted in another mojito (he remembered!) & more free desserts.
The trip ended on a high note & we made it home safely. Looking back & writing this blog post though, I think I am beginning to experience gelato withdrawals. Perhaps it’s a good thing I didn’t go abroad to Florence…
Just a girl sharing the baubles she loves & the bliss she experiences!