Thursday 17th May 2007 was Ascension Day in Germany and a public holiday. It was the perfect opportunity for us to take the Friday off and making it a long weekend. The plan this time, was to drive to the Italian fashion capital of Milan and return to Germany via the medieval Italian city of Verona.

As Italy is not connected to Germany, we would pass through a thin strip of land in Austria, this will be a three country visit over the long weekend. We planned to spend 2 nights in Milan and 1 in Verona followed by 2 nights in the Austrian Alps for a bit of a R&R.

At the commencement of the drive, the Navigation system calculated a route taking 450 km, taking some 5½ hours to Milan.  However, by selecting the "Use Motorways" and "Dynamic Route" option, we were presented with a new route taking 563km but taking 1 hour off our original route.  The result was a trip that would only take 4½ hours, passing through the Austrian city of Innsbruck.

While the Navigation system performed well for us in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, it didn't perform well in Italy and in particular, Milan.

Munich to Milan is 560km using Motorways

Italians greet you with a “Boungiorno” if you happen to be looking their way while the younger ones offer a friendly smile in return. Australia being the country with the largest population of Italians outside Italy ensures that we were used to the Italian way of life.  We therefore found that in Milan, things were pretty much normal, as the culture was suited to our own.  In general, we found the Italians very friendly which makes this trip a real fun one.

Right outside the Milan Town Hall,
is a statue of Leonardo da Vinci.

We stayed in a business hotel just outside of Milan, but is 200m away from Porto Mare subway station called Metro.  Taking into account that we've braved the Toyko subway system, the Milan Metro is a piece of cake.  After checking in, our first stop of was visit the world famous Cathedral of Milan, known as the Duomo, pictured at the top of this page.  The Duomo took 500 years to be completed and is quite a spectacular sight, the imposing white coloured structure is decorated with over 5,300 statues placed all around the many spires of the building. Inside, was of equal magnificence with a myriad of murals and art covered stain glass windows, magnificently sculptured altars and other decorations. Being late, we missed out on the elevator trip to the top of the Duomo as we understand that it offers a spectacular view of the city of Milan. Piazza del Duomo, the large square which the Duomo is, is also the home to many other structures.  One of which is a rather large arch... 

This imposing arch is the entrance to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, reputed to be the world's oldest shopping mall. Apart from the large number of restorante (Restaurants) and tratorrias (kinda like a bistro), a McDonalds and an autogrill, there are a variety of stores to be found such as Louis Vuitton, Prada etc.  What is an autogrill, you ask? Well, the first time I saw autogrill was on the motorway in Italy. It is essentially a highway diner “square” with several businesses operating with it – the one at the Piazza del Duomo had Burger King (aka Hungry Jacks in Australia), a restaurant and a snack bar.

We also visited the Basilica di Sant' Ambrogio via subway.  It is the is the oldest church in Milan and whilst not as famous as the Duomo Milan, is the prettiest, at least from the inside as there’s nothing to write home about from the outside. The remains of the patron St. Ambrose still lies within the church and is for the viewing public below the main altar.

Our strategy for this short trip was to take an Open top tour bus to see the city, identifying where we would like to stop for a closer look.  Unfortunately, we were only able to take 1 out of the 2 routes offered by the Open top bus, due to time constraints.

As many would know, along with Paris since the 1980’s Milan has been a fashion capital of the world. Therefore, it goes without saying that we should spend time at Milan's shopping districts made famous by brand names such as Armani, Prada, Gucci, Dolce & Gabana, Salvatore Ferragno & Miu Miu to name a few.

The short stay in Milan gave us a very good impression of what the city was like and an idea of what we have missed, enough reason to say that this is also a city we would like to return sometime soon.  It also gave us newfound eagerness to visit Venice and Florence as we understood that compared to Milan, these cities are prettier. but for the moment, the journey for us continues to Lake Garda and then Verona.


Souvenir Hunters in Mian

Jeanette and Raymond
May 27th, 2007

Photo Album