When my husband mentioned he may have to cover a mind-numbingly boring tax conference in Milan last week, I selfishly pushed my personal desire to see this northern Italian city over his desire to not write about European tax laws. Suffice to say my husband was won over by the promise of sunshine and gelato. So off we went on a four-hour train from wintry, blustery Geneva to warm, colorful Milano.
Se la donna vuol tutto la puol (What a woman wills, all will)!
I was feeling so vitamin D-deficient by mid-March that I could have been happy almost anywhere with a little sunshine, but I’m glad it was in Italy. The cuisine, the language, the lifestyle feels so exotic compared to conservative Switzerland. I’ve come to love weekend jaunts to Northern Italy akin to how Californians return again and again to their favorite beaches. As soon as I cross the border, my mind goes right into vacation mode.
Although most travelers choose Rome or Florence over Milan, there is a lot to love about the northern city. I’d heard so many times how industrial Milan is I was expecting to see warehouses galore, but that is only true on the outskirts of the city. In the heart of Milan–the Brera quarter–you can find all the charm of Florence and Rome combined. This is the neighborhood I’d recommend spending a full day of wandering.
We began with stand-up cappuccinos at a neighborhood bakery and then perused one of the many street markets in Brera. This time it was the antiques market; held every third Sunday of the month. My husband considered bringing home a truly unique souvenir from Rossignoli, but we ended up leaving empty handed. Apparently Rossignoli is where all Milanese children are taken to choose their first bicycle. A local right of passage.
Two blocks south we happened upon La Prosciutteria where we discovered the best lunch of the trip (best lunch of the year? possibly). There are only two things on the menu–paninis and the chef’s choice cutting board. We opted for the latter paired with two glasses of verdicchio. Heavenly.
Trying to walk off the truffle-laced pecorino, we visited the Pinoteca di Brera. Formerly an art school, the museum is now home to Milan’s greatest collection of classic Italian paintings by artists such as Raphael and Caravaggio. I’d recommend visiting even if your taste in art doesn’t usually include cherubs. Pinoteca di Brera is the soul of Milan.
There is much more to tell about Milan…like where I tasted the creamiest pistachio gelato of my life. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, a few links for a spring day: