Milan in 3 Days in January and Winging It With Basic Italian
This Monday evening is a quiet one in Milan Bergamo Airport. Except, of course, for the different wine bars and restaurants down at gate 12 who are, quite endearingly, shouting and gesticulating at one other and laughing as they finish their shift, cash up, and close down their counters.
I think it's safe to say that it's not even a stereotype to say Italians are loud and full of life. It's very funny to watch and is making our 35 minute delay much more bearable. We are soon through the gates and were given emergency exit seats - bonus!
Cheap flights to Milan
Our flight back is delayed (which also happened on the way there), but I am in no position to complain as I paid a total of 10€ for the round trip. Thanks RyanAir for the Black Friday deal, but not a very big fan of the waiting on the runway for 15 minutes in -6C at Schönefeld Airport, or the 2 hour delays. Or the 3€ water after the delays. But that's a topic for another article, entirely.
Firstly. Main observations of Milanese:
- in gastronomy, they are normally just as pissed off to see you as Berliners on a Tuesday morning
- they are drinking espresso whenever possible
- they appreciate "a Boun Giornata" thrown in whenever
- they WILL ask you where you're from, without reason and you'll never know why...
Airport to city centre
For the airport transfer, it is either an indirect train or a coach journey or around 45-55 minutes. We avoided the salesmen trying to sell us tickets and we skipped the queues! I used the GoEuro app to get to the city centre from BGY airport. The mobile ticket meant it was simply scanned and over with, costing just 5€.
Milan Duomo Cathedral
Once again, the queues for this place, on a Sunday, at lunch time, are unreal. Most of us probably think this is when you "should" be visiting things and if it's less busy somehow it's less appealing. My tip is to go later, just before closing.
Not only can you breeze your way through to the ticket office (located 100m to the right of the Duomo) around 5:30pm, the queue is significantly shorter. The time taken is mainly just to get through security and the military people with body scanners.
Tickets: 3€ for basic entrance, around 11€ for the terrace and 25€ for fast track
Spotting a nice area: Porte Venezia
Away from the classic stuff such as strolling through (shopping arch way) or Duomo etc.
Odette is lactose intolerant so finding food "senzo formaggio, latte e burro" is practically impossible in northern Italy.
One lunchtime we headed over to (pasta place) but ended up seeing a line for Ravioli (Chinese dumplings).
At Porte Venezia we stopped at Raw (something). All I can say is I'd love to try the gelato in summer.
This place is next level. Spent an hour here or two. Just take a look at some of the gruelling but stunning mosaleums where the rich Milanese are resting.
In 2016, I went to Rome but I have not really explored many places in Italy at all.
This is why I was so excited to try the culinary excellence that Italy has to offer.
I had what was, quite frankly, the best pizza I'd ever tasted at Mani di Pasta.
As a frequenter and enthusiast of Neapolitan pizza and having gone to the likes of Mazaniello and Zola in Berlin, this was a step up for me. Many 'pizza' restaurants outside of Italy leave you with this thirst after eating their pizza, which tends to mean that they rushed proofing the dough, and therefore did not let it rise for long enough.
Despite having olives, prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella my thirst was only for more exploration of the rest of Italy.
I think I could go on about pizza all day.
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We may or may not have interrupted a book ceremony or awards evening, but it was soon over and we ordered an Italian Malbec and a Nero d'Avola.
Winging it with basic Italian
It'd be stupid to tell you that communication was a breeze. Italy is and always will be a very Italian speaking country and English is spoken but not very often and definitely not immediately.
Lots of people in cafes and bars were able to converse slightly in English but you need to prepare to be approached in Italian. Before jumping the gun immediately, really try to think about what they could be asking first, given the context. Are they asking if you want a cup? One or two glasses? One bill or separate?
Often you can understand what they're saying and just say "si" "no" or "perfetto". If you're reading this now you're reading a Latin-based language. You can have a good go at Italian. What motivates me is the service and friendliness you can receive when they know you're trying.
Odette and I speak German, French, Spanish and English between us but we still struggled massively to understand what 90% of people said. What was amusing was the sheer amount of Italians who approached us and asked us for directions!
I think it was down to us dressing like those people in the photos on the walls of Caffè Nero. Think: sunglasses, black coats, and a demure appearance whilst we are trying to work out where to go ourselves.
Italian phrases I learned and managed to use despite 0 lessons (which means you can do it):
- vorrai un verra de vino bianchi per favore
- un caffè per favore
- no parlo italiano
- un cornetto von crema
- grazie mille
- buona giornata / serata
Italy, we are not done yet!