Piazzas collect pigeons, pigeons love bread, bread is served during dinners, dinners include delicious pastas around those piazzas. It’s a great symbiotic relationship throughout Italia. We spend a few sunny minutes at the Verona Arena and around Piazza Bra’s pigeons before boarding our Frecciabianca to Milano. 

Milan is Milan. All Italian cities are different, unique. But, Milan is Milan. Gritty, cosmopolitan yet crude, and yes, gritty. My last pass-through Milan was a couple years ago on my way to Modena. Milan had changed and the new construction appeared massive, modern and upwards. Sandblasters were removing the last reminders of Mussolini from the statzione facade. Always a major city, today’s Milan has less charm and more big-city, gritty bustle. I will do my best to show Gabrielle the better sights of city center in the time we are here.

We dump our bags at Hotel Stazione, buy a 24-hour transportation pass, and head for the Duomo. The Duomo, supposedly one of the largest in the world, is free and worth the time, both outside in the square and inside enjoying the stained glass and sculptures. It is a “birthday cake” of statues, gargoyles and pinnacles outlined against a brilliant blue sky. It faces a square filled with people, pigeons, and “salesmen.”

Remember NOTHING, NOTHING is free. The guy handing out the string bracelets, bird corn, waxy elephants, roses or cards saying they are deaf, NOTHING is “free for you.” They will hunt you down for their Euro. Where are all these guys from? Mostly Senegal. The beggars, so “starving” and in need of “food for my bambino” are from Romania and Moldavia and drinking up your donations in the bars at night. They stick that selfie stick in your face, tie that string around your wrist, push the rose under your nose then demand payment. Refuse, ignore them, tell them to fuck off. Whatever. There is not an Italian among them and the Italians will thank you for it.

Da Vinci’s Last Supper is sold out for the next two weeks. Another time. It is over-rated and hardly worth the entry cost. Imagine the prints you see all over the streets painted up on a big wall in a dark room where you will be able to stand quietly, no photos, for a maximum of 15 minutes. Your imagination is better than the painting.

We spent some time in the Pinacoteca di Brera with its multitude of Madonna Col Bambinos. The museum highlight is Canova’s bronze of a naked and much taller and swelt Napoleon than in reality. To say when you have seen one Madonna Col Bambino you’ve seen them all would be an injustice. However, after you have seen your 2000th Madonna Col Bambino, I am sure you have seen enough for one trip.

IMG_1120Possibly more exciting is Milano’s Monumental Cemetery with its large ornate family crypts. Each family seemingly tries to top their neighbor in death with statuary, bronzes and ornamental crypts. It’s away from the crowds and except for the occasional noisy crow, a quiet place to stroll.

We spend most of our time around the Duomo with its annoying sellers, entertaining buscars, numerous picky pigeons, and crowds of tourists. It’s a great place for a birre alla spina, some gelato, dinner, people watching and pigeon chasing all with the backdrop of the beautiful Duomo.

From Milano, it is off to the airport and a final attempt to pack all our experiences into our carry-on suitcases for the flight home.


Retired. Have time for the things I love: travel, my cat, reading, good food, travel, genealogy, walking, and of course travel.


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