Milan, Italy – From Gimmelwald we returned our rental car to Interlaken and then took a train to Milan, Italy with a change of trains in Spiez, Switzerland.  The ride south through the mountains is quite nice.  We’d been to (or through, I should say) Milan a couple of times before, but the objective this time was to see DaVinci’s Last Supper (which we hadn’t seen before) and to take Lori’s sister (Susan) and brother-in-law (Randy-who were traveling with us) to see the Duomo in Milan;  we had seen the Milan Duomo before, but they hadn’t.  Stepping off the train in Milan, the temperature had risen quite a bit from Switzerland to Milan.  We took the metro to the area of our hotel, and after the typical few minutes of new city confusion, we found it (with some last minute help from a friendly local).  We stayed at the Hotel Vecchia, a very nice hotel just a few blocks from the Duomo and with a fantastic restaurant next door.

Reservations are required to see the Last Supper, and though we were pretty diligent in attempting several months before we left, we couldn’t procure reservations: my theory is that the tour operators snatch up all the tickets so you have to take their tours if you want to see it.  Which of course we did.  Now it wasn’t exactly awful to take a tour, but we’re not exactly the tour-taking kind of traveler.  We left at the appointed time and the motor coach was clean and comfortable.  It was okay that they shuffled us right through the Duomo–since we had seen it before and we planned to come back on our own later anyway–and we did see a couple of sites we wouldn’t have seen otherwise, like the Milan Opera house and the Castelo Sforzesco.  And yes, mission accomplished, we saw the Last Supper; it is impressive and what you’d expect, but we were equally pleased to see the church and abbey DaVinci’s masterpiece is associated with.

Later that day, our other mission was also accomplished and we returned to the Duomo to get a more thorough look with Susan and Randy.  There are plenty of Duomos in Italy, but what’s unique about the one in Milan is that you get to go up on the roof, giving you a great view of the city and an interesting perspective on the construction of the church itself.  There are also some fine pieces of art throughout the church.  Also in Milan we saw several lesser visited churches, did a little shopping, and spent some time in the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele.

In addition to all the fine sites to see in Italy, a principle attraction is the cuisine.  I mentioned before there’s a great restaurant next to the Hotel Vecchia where we stayed: the Hostoria Borromei (not sure if they’re associated with the hotel or not).  We had the fish baked in salt and (naturally) a bottle or two of wine.  Another night we happened upon a nifty little pizza place off Via Torino called Belvedere–great food and a wonderfully friendly proprietor (ask to see his celebrity pictures).

These were our highlights of Milan, but Milan is now one of those cities (like Brussels) that we’ve seen enough of: if travel takes us through the city again, we certainly won’t regret it, but I doubt we’ll make it a stop on a future vacation itinerary.

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Up next, Riomaggiore on the Cinque Terre.