Milan, for me, is a city of discovery…
~ Francisco Costa
I’ve been in Milano for a little over two full days now, and I’m just getting to write this because, quite frankly, I’ve been exhausted. Having slept on the plane, I thought I would be moving around the city Thursday afternoon. Think again. I checked in, deposited my bags, ran to the store to buy Coke Zero, came back, and promptly fell asleep for about six hours. I was up long enough to eat about 1/3 of a pizza and fell asleep again.
I’ve only been in Milan three times, and if you add up all of the hours, it would amount to fewer than three full days. I tell you that because I got some discovering to do. I have a few writing assignments for which I have to do research, so all of that fits together well.
Yesterday (my first full day in Milano), I went in search of great pastry shops in the city. I’m not going to write about them here since I have the article to write, but I had a great time checking out five of the most famous ones. I did not buy something in each one (for which my overweight self thanks me), but just looking probably made me gain about 10 pounds. What I will mention here is that for as much as they all had some of the same pastries, they all had different delicacies, too.
All in all, I walked more than 10 miles yesterday, so I probably could have had more than the one treccia. I had the one with raspberries, although the strawberries looked good, too. I adore fresh raspberries, though, so the strawberries didn’t stand a chance. Just so you know, there was a vanilla cream under the berries, and pistachios and sugar dusted the top.
Most of the walking I did was within a mile or so of the Duomo (photo at the top of this entry), and I ended back in the piazza around it a number of times. Once I had to sit and have something to drink so I wouldn’t keel over, so I picked a shaded spot behind the Duomo but with a view of the side entrance.
Renovation is ongoing at the Duomo, so there was a huge screen printed with the likeness of what it covered over the area they were working on. On top of it, was a HUGE digital video screen (See below). The same commercials played over and over. I’d look up to see a bunch of dancers hopping around in a lot followed by ads for heaven-knows-what. For as long as I watched that screen, I cannot tell you one thing it was advertising. And that leads me to this question…
Why is that screen there? Why in the name of all that is good and holy (especially holy in this case since we’re talking about a screen on a church) do they have a video screen on the façade of the Duomo? Do they think people watch it?
“Mildred, look! A digital billboard! It’s much more interesting watching something we don’t understand than touring the Duomo. Let’s stay here and watch it.”
I spent a good 40 minutes sitting near the screen, and I can tell you I didn’t see anyone do more than glance at it.
This is one of my big pet peeves, by the way. It’s not only here that I’ve seen this crap. I’ve seen huge advertisements on the Doge’s Palace and Bridge of Sighs in Venice, on cathedrals in Barcelona and Rome, on museums in Amsterdam and Gallicia, and more. Who wants a photo of an historic building (or any building, for that matter) with a video screen on it? One could say that at least this screen is not on the front of the Duomo. True. There are those of us who like to take photos all around, though. (Yes, yes. I’m grumpy. I walked 10 miles yesterday. I’m allowed to be grumpy.)
The Good News
The good thing about walking all that much (not counting the health benefit) was that my feet are not swelling. When Mike and I were here in June, my legs and feet swelled so much that, had my skin been grey, people might have thought me a baby elephant. In addition, my legs hurt, especially my right one. I could not put weight on the right side to climb stairs, so I had to take them one at a time. Given that we stayed in a fourth-floor apartment (no lift in 17th century building!), I was a bit embarrassed.
At any rate, this caused a flurry of tests when I told my oncologist. I won’t get into all of that here, but suffice to say that they changed my medication, told me to wear compression socks on the plane (I had forgotten last time), and ordered me to change from Crocs to shoes that actually have support. I did as told, and after three hard travel days, my ankles, feet, and legs look normal size. I’ve even walked up and down steps. YAY, me!
An Alarming Reaction
I went back to the Duomo area last night for dinner because I wanted to go to Signorvino, a chain restaurant that I happen to like. It was, by the way, right next to where I had my respite earlier in the day, so I spent dinner looking at that stupid digital billboard. Well, in reality, I purposely didn’t look at it unless I happened to accidentally glance up.
I was in the mood for a little Italian street food, so I had arrosticini (roast lamb skewers), stuffed zucchini flowers, olive all’ascolana (stuffed olives), and arancini (rice balls). Having thought I’d stay around until it was dark so I could take photos of the Duomo at night, I took my time with the small order. The sun had gone down by the time I finished, so I waited for the check…and waited….and waited. I finally asked about it, and the gal told me to go to the cassa (register) in the store (Signorvino also sells wine). I threw my sling bag on and went into the store.
There were two people in front of me, and when I got to the counter, the guy asked me where I was sitting. “Outside in front,” I told him, and he somehow knew which of the six outside in front tables I was talking about. He said something that I did not hear, so I leaned on the counter. Suddenly, an ear-piercing alarm went off. He and I both jumped and pointed at one another. To me, it sounded like his credit card machine was screaming. He insisted it was my phone, and I pulled out my phone to show that my phone was, indeed quiet. By this point, he’d run my credit card, so he shoved it at me and waved me off.
I was a bit perturbed at his curt dismissal, but as I hurried out of the establishment, I noticed that the siren was following me. As I went to put the credit card back in its hiding place, I noticed that my sling bag was flashing and, indeed, screaming. When I leaned on the counter, I had unwittingly ignited my personal safety alarm.
By now, almost everyone trying to enjoy their meals or drinks was looking to see who was trying to raise the dead with that cacophony. My sling bag has three pockets, so I of course chose to look in the wrong ones the first two times. When I finally got the noisy thing out, I was so flustered that I forgot how to turn it off, and because I was under the portico, the siren reverberated off the stone walls. I had just decided to smash the thing with my foot when I somehow turned it off.
The good news is that I now know the alarm works and is loud enough to attract attention. The bad news is that no one came to my aid. Considering people could see that the only thing I was fighting was a small shrieking pink oval on a keychain, I guess that was all right.
I decided that I’d had enough excitement for the night and didn’t want to hang around the Duomo until it got dark enough to turn on the lights. I headed back to the hotel…with the alarm clipped to the zipper where I could keep a close eye on it.