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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs tagged Milan

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 25/08/2012 01:35:46
Updated by Joel Dixon at 29/05/2019 08:59:02

To give myself a little extra time in Florence, I had arranged to arrive in Milan in the evening giving me just enough time to meet my new travelling partner before grabbing a quick bite to eat. I wanted to try some risotto alla milanese (a risotto with made with chicken broth and safron), so I went to the first restaurant in the guide website that listed the dish as a speciality. Unfortunately I choose a super expensive eatery, and risotto alla milanese wasn't even on the menu Thankfully they accommodated my request and while tasty the milanese speciality certainly didn't justify the high price tag. I was in a good mood anyway - as I had just been shamelessly hit on by the server. It's just a shame the server was male.

Ducky Poos, my new travel companion, finally explained to me the purpose of the second bowl thing next to European toilets. My hotel room had no bath, so clearly this is the only possible explanation

I've gotta assume they intended this to look like a fried egg, or were making one of those Mexican jokes that were popular back in high school

My main goal in Milan was to view The Last Supper - a famous fresco by Leonardo da Vinci - so I had booked a tour for my first day. The tour was actually great - and not just because it afforded us a view of the fragile artwork. I will need to ensure I get onto further walking tours of cities that I'm about to visit - they give so many little details about the city that I would never learn on my own. We started at the Duomo, the Milan cathedral with an outlandishly Gothic facade and the Jesus depiction most likely to win the "cleanest knee" award.

No-one (or at least, not my tour guide) is sure why, but people rub Jesus' knee for good luck. They also rub the dude that is whipping Jesus' leg, and the noses of the busts below them. I gave the knee a bit of a rub - it feels pretty cool to be part of crowd-sourced cleaning of a monument

Before too long we arrived at Leonardo's The Last Supper. Security was quite stringent, and the air inside the church was kept to an exact temperature. Even though I'm not a religious guy, I felt a reverence when I was in the presence of the painting (similar to how I feel when at the Statue of Liberty) and spent most of my allotted 15 minutes agape. Admittedly I also spent at least 15 minutes agape after enjoying the best ice cream I've had on this trip so far from a place called Shockolat.

My attempt at subtly photographing the fresco. It's almost as if Jesus himself moved my hand to ensure his image would not be captured! Plus, it cannot be a coincidence that I haven't seen Horsey Sorehoof while in Milan! I think this calls for The Da Vinci Code 2: Leonardo Goes Bananas

Gelato Artigianale is a term to describe gelato that is home made instead of being made in bulk at a factory - apparently more than 55% of gelateria qualify for this distinction. Here is an example from the best of them - Shockolat

I had planned to be in Milan for two full days, but friends in Barcelona warned me that this would probably be too much time for the fashion capital. Thankfully an Aussie friend of mine (thanks Sean) suggested I spend a day in Bologna - an hour-long train from Milan. Apparently Bologna is well-known by Italians for cuisine, art and music - but not visited frequently by tourists. I arrived early in the morning and took one of the last trains back - and I can certainly see why Bologna is a popular destination.

Bologna is a bit of a college town, and boasts the oldest existing university in the world. I was able to visit the original campus which was great - each student (that travelled from across Europe to study at the university) decorated a coat of arms with their family's crest and these crests take up all available wall real estate. I then made the hike up to the current campus location which houses a museum filled with artefacts concerning the discovery of knowledge.

The maps from this time period were great - Australia had yet to be completely surveyed so most globes just showed the coast line that was known (the West and some of Queensland). Others clearly guessed the shape of Terra Australus, like in this "nice try" example

It was finally time for lunch, and how could I miss out on Bolognese sauce? Here it is simply called Ragu - and nobody has it with spaghetti (which is more suited to an olive oil sauce). Tagliatelle is a far better meat-delivery surface - and I must admit I can see where they are coming from. My meal from Trattoria del Rosso was incredible (thanks again Sean) so I also ate dinner there later on that day.

Delicious and appropriately priced - I could get used to Bologna

After launch I went on a walking tour of Bologna - it wasn't the best tour but still afforded me information that I would have missed otherwise. After politely explaining to us how much she hated the French, our tour guide took us through the main sights of Bologna including the basilica and a public building built upon ancient ruins and the two leaning towers (far less famous than other examples). My favourite part of this tour was the description of Bologna's history, including the artificial canals and the building of various porticoes and family towers. She also described to us "Happy Hour", where bars provide a copious amount of finger food that you are free to devour after purchasing a single beverage (generally around 8 Euro).

The food was pretty average to be honest - but perfectly priced

One of the original canals still running through the city

Bologna was great - unfortunately my short stay did not afford me the opportunity to check out the local music scene, but perhaps I will get back there one day.

This is the 9th in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012

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