We arrived in Milan at noon and it was still really cold and foggy. We were staying at the Marconi hotel, which is very close to Milano Centrale. We dropped off our bags and made our way to Pavè to feed our bellies.
Departure Station in Varenna: Varenna-Esino
Arrival Station in Milan: Milano Centrale
Train Operator: Local train – I guess any South bound train from Varenna is headed to Milan.
The hipster ambiance of the cafe made me feel like we were back in SF. Food is excellent and you can actually see them baking in the kitchen. Got a huge bowl of salad-first time in nearly 10 days we saw veggies. I got a chickpea soup and S got a chicken sandwich. After stuffing our faces, we made our way to Centrale to catch the metro to the daVinci museum. This was originally not on my list since we intended to get back to Milan later in the evening which mean’t there wouldn’t be time for sight-seeing. However, since we got in early, we had an extra half day and S came up with the museum plan. Apparently he heard about this place before and was really excited. A 10 min metro ride later (Milan metros are cleaner and nicer than those in Rome ), we were in the museum. The museum is huge filled with da Vinci’s drawings, inventions, and more – you could spend a whole day there and it probably wouldn’t be enough! Other parts of the museum had Aero and rail exhibits that S was looking forward to. There was a full size ship in the building which was really cool. Wonder how they got it into the building or may be they built the building around it? The choo choo trains were housed in a separate shed (which was huge!).
Walking out in awe of the greatest Inventors/Mathematician/Scientist/Artist to have ever lived, we took the metro to the Lanza stop to scope out the grounds of the Castello Sforzesco for our morning run. The palace grounds were huge which was perfect! We later walked down Via Dante to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II to see the holiday lights. The Duomo is right next door, but it was closed since it was after 6:30PM already. We ate dinner at Brek Cafe – I got a delicious “made-to-order” Genova-pesto potato pizza and S got pasta and veggies. Panna cotta for dessert, and full stomachs, we took the Metro back to Centrale.
Good Place(s) to Run: Grounds of Castello Sforzesco
After a good nights sleep, we woke up early and took the metro back to the Lanza stop. As we made our way to the Castle for our morning run, people were putting up stalls all around. Wondered if it was some sort of a Christmas Market. While we rounded the corner, we saw our first Puli! For those of who don’t know, Puli is a hungarian sheep dog breed and they’re so cute! After a Puli rush, we finished our run we found out that they were setting up for the annual Saint Ambrosio fair in honor of the Saviour of Milan. After a quick breakfast and shower at the hotel, we made our way back to the fair and bought some really nice belts and the softest of scarves. Duomo was next on the list. While we were waiting to be wanded down and bags X-rayed at the security checkpoint at the entrance, we couldn’t help but feel out of fashion seeing the rest of the line consisting of mostly Italians and Europeans dressed in deep grays and blacks while we were in or colorful Blue and White puffy jackets. The security personnel picked up from our colorful outfits that we weren’t from around there and happily assumed we were from the balmy LA when we said we were from California. The inside of the Duomo is a structural marvel. There was a prayer service while we were inside so we were unable to take pictures. There is a musuem next door which we unfortunately couldn’t get into as the last entry was an hour before closing and we got there with just half an hour to spare. We ate at Fiori Chiara near the Sforza. The food was incredible. We got the Eggplant pasta and Pesto pasta (When in Italy, eat as much Pesto as you can!).
Next morning after a huge and amazing breakfast at our hotel, we checked out a little before 8AM and headed to Centrale to catch the Malpensa express train to the airport. Remember, since this is a local train so you need to validate your ticket before you get on. I almost forgot until I saw a yellow machine as were were running to the train. Quick validation later, we boarded the train. Right after the train started moving, the conductor came by ticket check. He looked at our tickets and said “this is correct” – which sounded odd to me at the time but made sense 2 minutes later when he checked the couple next to us. Apparently, they just got their ticket from the kiosk and didn’t know it had to be validated so their ticket was invalid. They were forced to buy a new ticket from the conductor (which was 2x the normal price) along with a fine. One way ticket price to the airport in December 2015 was €12 one way. 50 minutes with several stops later, we were at the airport ready for our Istanbul adventure.