Seeing as the lovely town of Pavia has become my new home for the next few months, it was only fitting that I take a half hour train journey and visit the fashion capital of the world! The main feature of Milan is without doubt the gorgeous cathedral that serves as the centre-point of the city. My housemate insisted that we make the Cathedral our first stop, and looking back I can see why. There is nothing quite like climbing the steps from the underground and coming face to face with this magnificent building! Of course, it definitely helped that the sun was shining and the whole place looked spectacular. For anyone wondering why there is a Despicable Me balloon floating in the corner of the photograph, it is because my housemate and I decided to visit Milan on the same day as ‘La Festa della Donna’ (International Women’s Day), and the square in front of the Cathedral was absolutely jam-packed with people waiting for the festival/parade to begin.
When we arrived at the Cathedral we still had a bit of time to kill before the parade started and so I was given a quick tour of everything of interest in the immediate vicinity. I can honestly say that although the Cathedral will always be the most spectacular building in Milan, the galleria definitely made a great impression on me. Home to all those expensive expensive shops that everyone know, and no one can afford to shop at, the galleria made me feel as though I was taking a walk in a rich person’s shoes for a little while. Naturally, being a student and honorary tourist, I absolutely could not resist the urge to bring home a collection of photos of all these expensive shops – I couldn’t bare to go home without proof that I’d been within 100 miles of not one, but two Prada stores!!
Once I had gotten over the horrific realisation that it’s entirely possible I will never, ever be able to afford a single item from the majority of the stores in the galleria, it was time to head back to the Cathedral ready to watch the procession of floats come to the end of their parade around the city. There were floats for every kind of organisation and charity imaginable, but the one that really caught my eye and stayed with me right up until today, was the float representing the Italian Red Cross. This particular float was decorated with loads and loads of the Despicable Me minions! I’m not entirely sure what the connection is between the Red Cross and the Despicable Me, but I know for sure that everyone absolutely loves the minions. In my opinion, the best performances of the afternoon came in the form of several different dance crews, all with different music and different styles… but they were definitely responsible for drawing the crowd and holding everyone’s attention – I mean, who doesn’t love to see beautiful women in gorgeous dresses dancing through the street? And more importantly, I can’t think of many women who wouldn’t appreciate a group of ridiculously handsome, topless guys putting on a dance/martial arts performance!!!
The final stop on our tourist’s tour for that first day, was the Formula 1 store. I am not in the least bit ashamed to admit that I got more excited that was strictly necessary when I saw the F1 car sitting on display in the window. I am not an avid racing fan, but I spent a lot of time watching the F1 with my father when I was younger – I will never forget the weekends we spent lounging on the bed and cheering for Michael Schumacher! Though I’m pretty sure that he became my racing idol because in his day he won almost every time… Anyway, the point is that my inner-child got rather too excited at the prospect of being within touching distance of a real formula 1 Ferrari. I was rather tempted to take a turn sitting in it! However, after watching a fully grown man attempt it and fail miserable because the steering wheel had been altered to remain permanently attached, I decided that I didn’t want to risk making a giant fool of myself. Maybe if I can talk him into it, I shall make a return trip with my father at some point (I seriously doubt it).
The rest of the day was then spent wandering around the main high street, where I spent a ridiculous amount of money on clothes that I probably didn’t need! But really, there was no way I’d be able to explain how I went to the fashion capital of the world and didn’t buy a single thing! Luckily I avoided all of the more expensive stores, and stuck with raiding H&M instead!! My housemate also gave me a guided tours of the ‘posh’ areas of the city. I was expecting to see a ridiculous amount of stores I wouldn’t be able to face entering… and I wasn’t disappointed. I was however, caught off-guard by the amount of luxury cars that we saw in this particular part of town. Now, seeing as it’s the high-class end of town, I really shouldn’t have been surprised! But then again, I can’t say as I’ve ever gone out shopping and thought to myself “I’m sure all the expensive cars will be out in town today” – Though that’s probably because where I’m from barely anybody owns a car worth that much money. I saw a great many wonderful and amazing things that first day in Milan, but I will never, ever forget seeing the Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini and Bentley logos on about 40% of the cars we passed. The highlight of my day came while we were waiting to cross the road and an Aston Martin DB9 pulled up next to us at the lights! My housemate thought I was being ridiculous, and she had a good laugh at my expense – can’t say I blame her to be quite honest! But still, it’s not every day that you get withing touching distance of those kind of cars.
Day 2 of our weekend in Milan was much shorter because neither of us wanted to drag ourselves our of bed, but we managed to fit in plenty of sight-seeing all the same! The majority of our time was spent wandering around the castle grounds and the gorgeous public park that used to serve as its gardens. The castle was magnificent, but the park was something else entirely! It’s the kind of place where you could happily spend all day with your family because it’s perfect for anything and everything; frisbee, reading, a picnic, sunbathing, running around like lunatics, walking the dogs – you name it, it’s probably possible. Considering that it’s in the centre of one of the biggest cities in Europe, it’s easy to believe you’re in the countryside somewhere while you’re wandering around in the park. After our visit to the Castle we made sure to go and see the Arch of Peace at the other end of the gardens, before slowly making our way back to the Cathedral for some much needed gelato!
There is no better way to end a weekend in Milan than with ice-cream!!!!