Monday, November 2, 2015

I'm Here For The Food: A Love Story for Milan

I really, really loved Milan. I got to spend four magnificent days in the city (one and a half of them on my own), and while we did some things for work, I'm not going to talk about them here.

I loved the food. Oh my gosh, the FOOD! I had fresh pasta three times while I was there, and it was just so amazing and creamy and wonderful. I had gelato twice. Gnocchi once. Panna cotta for breakfast, which blew any panna cotta I've had completely out of the water. Lemon sorbet that was more like a creamy drink than an ice cream, but was oh-so-good.

"After" photo of a melt-in-your mouth salmon taglioni in cream sauce. Sorry, I didn't get a "before," but it was basically the same but with a significantly larger amount of pasta.

I ate as much of the deliciousness as humanly possible, but almost every restaurant we went to in Europe asked me if the food was okay, because I could never actually finish everything I ordered. If only I could have taken a cross-continental to-go box!

Gelato #1 from a street vendor near the Duomo cathedral. Italian Cream flavor, and it was amazing.

Italy made me realize how much I love eggplant, when it arrived on a vegetariana pizza. (In the U.S., it's one of the few veggies I find generally kind of icky. It's that thick skin, it makes it hard to eat.)

Fresh pappardelle with porcini mushrooms. We asked the hotel concierge for a restaurant recommendation, and she recommended a restaurant where they would come pick you up (at the NH Hotel off Sesto Marelli). The sign on the place literally just said "Ristorante," and the food and wine and dessert were all fabulous.

The most unusual pasta dish I've ever had. It was a ricotta-walnut-chili pasta from the Sheraton Milan Malpensa restaurant before a 6 a.m. flight to Frankfurt. I had to ask the waiter if all the flowers and leaves were edible! Also, I love that every meal in Italy starts with prosecco. Mmmm prosecco.

I could basically just wax poetic about the food forever, but I won't bore you. If you have not been to Italy, get to Italy if just for the food! I could just eat the whole city and be perfectly happy.

The Duomo cathedral from the front. It's insanely touristy outside and people tried to sell all kinds of things all over the place, which was kind of obnoxious. Lots of people with selfie sticks, lots of people buying selfie sticks. 

I did not buy a selfie stick. I  do not want to own a selfie stick.

More pretty architecture. Plaza adjacent to the Duomo.

This is a shopping center. We are doing it wrong. #Murica

And just everything was really pretty. The train system was easy to navigate, even though I am always getting lost. The Duomo was an incredibly impressive cathedral, and the whole area around it was just gorgeous. My co-worker and I had dinner down the street from the Duomo on our first night in Milan, and then I went back a few days later to actually see the cathedral.

You can climb a very steep and winding staircase with 115+ steps (or take an elevator) to tour the gorgeous rooftop of the Duomo. I started counting the steps on the way down, but I was already down a few flights before I remembered. I was sweating and breathing hard. It's hard work being a tourist. 

I went at sunset and it was breathtaking. The insanely intricate carvings, the beautiful light, lovely old marble, so many statues to look at … every spire and gargoyle was different from the next.

Selfie to prove I didn't just rip these photos off the internet? Also, it's weird traveling alone because there's no one to take awesome photos of you. 
Is this why people buy selfie sticks?

I tried not to take photos of scaffolding, but there were decent-sized chunks of the marble work along the rooftop that were being restored. 

Bet my sunset is cooler than yours.

I didn't do the full interior tour (because it was getting late/was traveling alone/still needed to get dinner and take a train and walk back to the hotel ... practical reasons but still, stupid Past Allie) though you walk through part of the main cathedral after the rooftop tour. I tried to take a panorama photo, but it does not come even close to capturing how beautiful and intricate the inside was. Basically, photos will never do and you'll just have to see it yourself. Magnificent.

The Castle Sforza was also beautiful, even though I didn't manage to get to see any of the museums inside (due to the cash situation). I would have liked to have seen the unfinished Leonardo DaVinci sculpture that resides inside.

Fountain outside the castle. I'm not very good at selfies. 
Immediately after taking this photo, some guy got all up in my face and tried to sell me a selfie stick, and I ran away.

Tower at the front of the castle.  

 There were all these green spaces, and there were also outdoor exhibits and tents set up for things like concerts, I guess? I saw a lot of cats sunning themselves on the tent equipment. I refrained from posting pictures of them here, though, because cats are cats on every continent.

There were these random stone heads way up high, and I didn't see an explanation for why they were there!

Similarly to the Duomo, parts had been restored and some pieces were original to the castle. Supposedly parts of it had been rebuilt a few times. 

Drawbridge! To go over the now-empty moat! Castles are so cool.

It's a shame we don't have such insane levels of beautiful, intricate architecture here. And it's a shame we've no castles. (I also saw a castle in the Netherlands, which was also beautiful in a different way. More lush and green, and with fewer tourists.)

While my co-worker was still around, we also had the opportunity to go to the World's Fair, which was in Milan this year! It was incredible, with so much to see and do. We only had day passes, but that was okay because it was HUGE and we got to see so much, and by the end of the day it was raining hard and my feet and back were killing me.

Bears outside Russia's building. You know how I love taking photos imitating statues. 

So many of the buildings were so fancy! The U.S. had a building with a vertical garden growing out the side. Each of the bigger buildings also had restaurants with native foods, and I thought "What food is native to the U.S.? Mexican food? No, that's from Mexico. BBQ? Maybe that's only in the south..." Turns out the answer is "food trucks."

One of the THREE China-themed buildings. Taken from a hill that had a tractor-and-farming-themed building on it, which was cooler than it sounds.

The "Tree of Life." The theme of this World Fair was "Feeding the Planet," hence all the food-related stuff. There was a water show and light show and a lot of giant flowers sprouted from the "tree."

Nutella is like, a BIG DEAL in Europe. I tried to contain myself. (I went nuts in the Lindt truffle store instead.)

On my last day, I went back to the Duomo area because I had read about a giant mall-like store called La Rinascente that was just floor after floor of designer goods and home goods and clothing and purses and purses and scarves and purses, and my fashion-designer sister would have had a field day and all my brain cells wanted to buy fancy things and swim in a pile of them, but I resisted. Instead, I bought myself and my sister each a pair of pretty Italian leather gloves (mine pink and hers purple), and I resisted the impulse to spend my life savings on designer items.

Finally, I took the train out to Milan Malpensa (airport, about an hour ride away from Milan proper), checked into my hotel and tried to go to bed early for my ridiculously early flight to Frankfurt!

Have you been to Milan? What is the best meal you've ever had? Would you rather swim in a vat of Nutella or a big pile of designer purses? :)

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