We're in Milano!
Its lovely to be back in Italy! The language is so familiar, the people and food so comforting.
We spent yesterday on a day-trip to the historic Dutch town of Delft. When we arrived it seemed to be closed :( However we wandered around for a bit, followed a walk in the guide book, sat and had a beer (I had a hot chocolate, it was quite windy and cold) and then bought some souvenirs. There was a free open-air concert at 3pm which we decided to stay for of Tchaikovsky's 5th, Saint Saens and something else. It was very pleasant and by the time it started the (very pretty market) square was packed and the sun was out. I also went to the Vermeer house exhibit and bought an antique Delft tile from 1740. Just one. Its a bit battered but that's the way I like it. We elected not to go to The Hague on the way back, and headed back to Amsterdam and a kebab dinner, packing and planning our Milan experience (only 24 hours).
After a pretty early start and hanging around the airport for. a . long. time. (don't ask) the flight was easy. We arrived about lunchtime and trained into Milan, stopped briefly at our hotel and ventured out to see the Duomo which was really spectacular. Mark Twain described it as breathtaking, with a lightness of body and so we found it so too. It reaches for the sky, and seems impermanent as if made of starched lace. Contrasted with the inside which is dark and almost brooding, but with incredible spaces. It is the second biggest cathedral in the world (apparently) after St Peter's basilica - but its not nearly as impressive as St Peter's. It has nicer candles though....I light candles everywhere we go, especially at a Lady Chapel.
There was also a spectacular Triumphal style arch in honour of Victor Emmanuel II with a beautiful light filled gallery, housing some of the world's spectacular fashion and accessory houses. Louis Vuitton. Prada. And, strangely, a McDonald's. Such a travesty of a beautiful space.
We walked through this area to La Scala which we were unable to enter sadly, but the touts were out offering tickets to 'Aida' for tonight. Pass. Too long, I couldn't face it after a long day of travel.
We ate an inexpensive lunch in the piazza overlooking the Duomo, fed the pigeons a few crumbs then dragged our sore feet home via the backstreets, only getting a little bit lost. However i did have faith that the streets of Milan were present for centuries before we arrived, and they were unlikely to have vanished from a map, even if it did seem they had. We walked one block right, or left, or further and there we were, back at the hotel.
We are now showered and chilling out with a bit of wi-fi internet and email in our room and laughing at Star Trek and An Affair to Remember dubbed into Italian. We plan a nice dinner somewhere tonight after a nap.
I'm looking forward to being in Italy for the rest of the week, then on Saturday we're off to Paris.
Lucky, lucky, lucky ducks. Not rubbing it in, just...appreciating the moment.