Bruno, our Bellagio, Laconda della Maria hotel proprietor and charming host ordered a car with a driver to transport us in the early morning to our Milan hotel, Hotel Berna for our stay (Via Napo Torriani, 18, 20124 Milano, Italy; Phone: +39 02 9475 5704). This beautiful, family owned, well managed Milan hotel surpassed our expectations. It was conveniently located near the metro, the bus station and the train station. Our room was spacious with all the amenities including free WIFI gratis. The breakfasts included in our room rate, were presented with a large variety of delicious choices. In the evening, we noticed fancy chocolates on our beds and a gratis yellow ducky in the bathroom. The hotel host was very gracious in assisting us to obtain a 25 euros pass for the City Bus which allowed us to get on and off at will while we toured Milan’s major attractions. This included an appointment to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. We were provided a map of the city with the red and blue line bus stops.
So, we had one day to vist the main Milan sites because the next day, we had tickets to the 2015 Milano Expo.
This is where Murphy’s Law comes into play and when the tourist has to be flexible. When we climbed onto a bus to start our tour, we were told that we had the incorrect tickets which did not include the tour to study the masterpiece, the “Last Supper.” It was at this point that I insisted in speaking with a supervisor which I did meet as he entered the bus at one of the stops. I showed him the advertisement on their map, provided to passengers indicating a ticket package including the “last Supper ” tour for 25 euros. It was explained to me that I had an old map and that the price for this tour had been increased to 37 euros. My response was that his organization needs to provide the hotels that promote his business with the updated maps and tickets. The end result was that we three ladies had our passes honored which included the visit to see Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece at 4:00 pm.
The map that we wanted to follow with limited success is as follows. If we exited the red double decker city bus at the Piazza Castello, then we could peruse through the Castello (Castle) Sforzesco. Then we would go to the Piazza del Duomo located on Via Manzoni. By continuing north on Via Manzoni, we would reach the Teatro alla Scala. If we stayed on this same routing, we might have time to stroll through the Giardini Pubblici (public gardens).
This is what Pauline Frommer writes in her Italy Guidebook about Castello Sforzesco: “This fortress like castle continues to evoke Milan’s two most powerful medieval and Renaissance families, the Visconti and the Sforza. The Visconti built the castle in the 14th century and the Sforza who married into the Visconti clan and eclipsed them in power, rebuilt it in 1450. There is a relatively small admission charge for the pinacoteca, with its minor works by Bellini, Corregio, and Magenta, and the extensive holdings of the Museo d’Arte Antica (Museum of Ancient Art), filled with Egyptian funerary objects, prehistoric finds from Lombardy, and several giant tapestries in a room containing historical musical instruments. The biggest draw is the final work of 89 year old Michelangelo, his unfinished Rondanini Pieta.”
We ladies missed this castle part of the plan. By the time, we finished correcting the issue over our bus tickets and made sure that we were on the right bus, we had just enough time to get to the Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II.
We did take time to window shop at all the designer stores within the Galleria before deciding to eat at La Locanda del Gatto Rosso, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Milano; Tel: +39 02 72022411; firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is what my favorite Italy guide book author, Pauline Frommer writes about the Duomo: ” It took 5 centuries to complete Milan’s magnificent Gothic Duomo, which was begun by the ruling Visconti family in 1386. The last of Italy’s great Gothic structure is the fourth largest Catholic church in the world (after St. Peter’s in Rome, Seville’s cathedral, and new one in the Cote d’Ivoire), with 135 marble spires, a stunning triangular façade and 3,400 statutes flanking the massive but airy, almost fanciful exterior.”
Ms. Frommer continues to note: “Be sure you make it up onto the roof, to duck under the buttresses and wind your way between the statute-topped spires for thrilling citywide panoramas that, on the winter days when industrial smog doesn’t interfere, stretch all the way to the alps. Join the throngs of locals on break and grab a panzerotto from Luini for a typical Milan lunch on the go, and then wash it down with a view of the Duomo façade and Italy’s aperitif, a Campari-soda, in the very bar that invented it, Caffé della Zucca.”
We three ladies needed to meet at the church displaying Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper at 4:oo pm. One of my friends rushed onto the red city bus which meant that I had to tell her that we needed to exit because we had to board the blue line bus which we did. However, I discovered that the Blue Line city bus wouldn’t arrive at our meeting spot until after 4:15 pm. Luckily, there was a taxi stand right next to the bus stop. I suggested that we grab a taxi but our one friend refused to budge, so we proceeded without her. Yes, we were able to enjoy being in the presence of this masterpiece for a good half hour. For a break, there is the nearby Pasticceria Marchesi which is a lovely pastry shop and tea room.
Then we rushed over to the Teatro alla Scala as we were hoping to be able to sign up for a tour but we were too late. This is when I came up with the brilliant idea to purchase tickets for that same evening’s production of Puccini’s Turandot. Unfortunately, the tickets were sold out but we discovered that we could wait in line for tickets to become available when ticket holders chose not to arrive. After waiting for about an hour and after being told that there was no hope, I and my friend managed to sneak into the box office to purchase box tickets for just the two of us because our other friend hates operas. Miracles do happen!!!!
Yes, we were thrilled with our success in obtaining great seats at Teatro alla Scala to see this opera. The problem is that we did not have time to return back to the hotel to get dolled up but we were so excited that we didn’t even care. We just walked quickly to the near by Galleria to purchase a pizza at a café. And of course, we treated ourselves to a scrumptious gelato.
Again, we were fortunate to have box seats with four others who were very kind. They maneuvered their seats in a way that both of us had a great view of this spectacular, fantastic artistry of the opera, Turondot which we just loved.
The next day, we were on our way to another adventure by spending the day at the Expo Milano 2015. The Expo’s marketing advertisements state the following: “Designed to make a powerful impact on the global issues of hunger and nutrition, Expo Milano 2015: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life will be an unforgettable non-commercial Universal Exposition in the heart of scenic Northern Italy.”
“Spanning an area of one million square meters ( nearly 250 acres), Expo Milano 2015 was built as an entire dedicated city with easily navigable streets featuring an array of mouth watering restaurant options, thousands of live concerts, awe inspiring performances, and inspirational workshops and exhibitions around every corner. With over 50 countries building their own stylized pavilions, this event highlights the best this world has to offer.”
We did our best to check out most of the pavilions and to test taste a lot of the treats offered. In the late afternoon, we returned to our hotel to collect our stored luggage and then to walk to the train station for our ride to Florence to meet the apartment manager at our agreed upon time.