A Happy New Year to you! Holidays over and a break from my laptop screen we’re back to it here at Crumbs on the Map.
Ah Milan, we were fortunate enough that when we arrived it was in the midst of a heatwave desperately needed after the cold days spent in Paris. We were however, fortunate/unfortunate enough to have visited when it was Milan’s Fashion Week. Now if of course, you are a dedicated follower of fashion- then you’ll be in your element. For us though it meant walking through a few of the more popular areas with a continually cocked eyebrow at what some people were wearing and the armies of photographers and make-up artists that followed them. In my haste I didn’t properly review the train ticket I’d purchased for us both too. I thought I had booked for Milan’s central station but instead we arrived at Rho Fiera, a station built to serve the exhibition centre that it serves… and some way away from the centre. A couple of metros later and we found ourselves basking in the sun and the majestic architecture of Milan’s Duomo.
People watching in Milan’s Cathedral Square proved an excellent past time as we frittered away hours throughout our stay watching everyone pass us by. Do be careful of the pigeons though- they’re particularly plentiful and often hawkers throw and hand out seed for tourists to have their photo taken with them. Why anyone would want such a thing is beyond me. If a thirst has taken you (of course it has, Aperol is to be found) there are numerous bars around the square. A premium is paid for the location but the views of the square and the cathedral more than justify the expenditure. I’d recommend the dedicated Aperol bar (to the left facing the Cathedral) or the bar at the top of the department store, Rinascente. A tour of the Duomo, along with most things in Milan are on the costlier side of affordability. But I find with most architectural endeavours- they are most enjoyed from the outside. Aside from the cathedral there was the most intriguing art installation framing the cathedral square, an endless pattern of masks adorned buildings staring out. If nothing else they made for a great photo opportunity.
Close by as well you’ll find the famous bull, in the heart of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Supposedly by spinning yourself in a 360° on the mosaic’s nether regions grants good luck. Authorities, tired of replacing the worn tiles though removed the bull’s gender entirely recently, but you’ll still find a gaggle of people twisting before carrying on with their day. There’s also a local-gone-viral eatery close by. Luini’s. The queues here can get so long they actually have a doorman to monitor crowds. Fortunately having arrived before peak lunch time and off season we were relatively lucky with a short queue. What they serve here is panzerotti. An Italian might curse me for describing it as such, but to me it’s Italy’s answer to the humble Cornish pasty. All kinds of varieties are available but I opted for a stalwart of Italian cooking, tomato and mozzarella. The panzerotti is a dough, folded similar to a calzone around a filling, crimped but fried rather than baked. The texture is midway between a pizza base and a doughnut and the cheese pull from the panzerotti to mouth is magnificent and defying of physics.
If you find time, my final suggestion is to while away an afternoon, evening and night along the Navigli district in Milan, a series of canals snaking around the heart of Milan. Many of them since long covered up and abandoned, a couple remain and they’re thriving. Both sides of the canal are bursting with restaurants, cafes and bars with people teetering along the banks’ edges as crowds surge up and down the walkways and bridges.
If you’re arancini’s number one fan (which you can’t be, because that’s me) or generally a purveyor of fine deep-fried balls of risotto, then I can’t recommend stopping off at A’Vucciria enough. It single-handedly beat every other arancini I’ve had the pleasure of consuming and one is large enough to be considered a meal in its own right as a snack. Parched from consuming such a delight. We headed down the bank and stopped for just one more Aperol spritz.