Adventures in Milan – Day 5, coming home

Milan Italy fashion clothes travel holiday Gucci Versace coffee D&GMy last day. I decide to skip the hotel breakfast and skip off on my own for a last perfect Italian coffee at Café Passarella, where my Milanese adventure started.

I sit under the outside heater with my laptop and wonder why the rest of the patrons are not at work at 9am. It’s still raining but I decide I have the time and inclination to get soaked whilst having a last walk through Milan.

I really want to go up and down those side streets that I spotted last night when we were looking for an open restaurant at 7.45pm. So I do.

45 minutes of walking up and down cobbled, almost empty streets peering into the windows of closed designer show rooms and it’s time to walk back to the hotel. As I come out onto the main street, I realise I’m only a few minutes away from the hotel and 30 minutes away from the taxi to take us on our journey back home.

It’s been ten years since I was last in Italy although not in Milan. I did fly back from Milan last time and as the plane took off, I noticed the biggest ever advert which simply stated ‘Giorgio Armani’ like the designer was the airport’s sponsor.

That and a lifelong study made me think that Milan, more than Florence, Rome, Venice and even gorgeous Verona will have row upon row of designer stores.

I’d expected them to be scattered across the city like McDonalds. I certainly expect there to be flagship homage to the great and good of Italian fashion. But no, they are mostly tucked away in a little area known as the ‘Fashion District’ and these are not for the average consumer; no these are for serious collectors, fashion buyers and editors. They certainly don’t look open. None of that spoilt my enjoyment of spotting each and every delectable store of course.

My favourite thing about visiting Italy is that I know every coffee will be great, no matter where I buy it from. The first day in the hotel was suspect but much improved when they made a fresh pot; they were replicating ‘American’ coffee for the tourist and I guess because it‘s lot easier for them if we can help ourselves rather than employing someone to make each cup.

However, ten years later, I’ve forgotten that big coffees don’t exist here so I cannot linger with a book or indeed my net book. I’ve yet to see what the world calls ‘Italian coffee’, I call sickly milky stuff and you will probably call latte in Italy.

On the other hand, I so rarely have it in the UK it’s lovely to spend a few mornings filled with cappuccinos. 

Discoveries: McDonalds’ McCafe, complete with above average coffee – i.e. better than most UK coffee shops (I said ‘most’) and I had no trouble finishing of the Tiramisu too. In regular cafes, coffee ranged from €2.80 to €4 and that’s just when I noticed the price so the €1.10 for a decent cup in McCafe is refreshing (excuse the pun).

Old discoveries that thankfully still hold true; fabulous coffee, pizzeria on every street, pasta at every cafe and everyone speaks English when they shouldn’t have to!

I love Italy!

Milan Italy fashion clothes travel holiday Gucci Versace coffee D&G


Adventures in Milan – last day

Milan Italy fashion clothes travel holiday Gucci Versace coffee D&G


­­Adventures in Milan – Day 4Sunday Best

Today has always had rain forecast so ‘they’ did not disappoint us. However, I’m one step ahead as I keep the Cathedral, the main tourist attraction (apart from the sport that is Versace shop spotting) for today.

We get to the part where the lift takes us up to the roof. This part costs €8 to see and there are no lines so we are easily outside and on the roof to see the magnificent detail of the Duomo in seconds. After our descent, by stairs – I’m feeling energetic – it’s still raining but my plan for us to spend an hour or two inside the dry cathedral is thwarted. There isn’t the line of people as there was yesterday because they are not letting anyone in. We decide to try again towards the end of the afternoon rather than try to get a translation as to why.

 In the meantime I’ve come to realise that unlike any other city in the world that relies partly on the billions €€€ spent by tourists every year to survive and flourish, Milan doesn’t.  There is barely a sign to point out places of interest for us to spend our hard earned pounds in. It does feel like there are Milanese secrets and us the tourists are not invited in.

The shrine to Versace is still not evident and whilst I know there will be at least one Versace store in Milan, just like in every other major shopping city in the world, my point is that they don’t make the most of their fashion heritage.  I’m gobsmacked that D&G, Armani and especially Versace are not more prominent. By now surely we have walked nearly every street around the ‘fashion district’ and I’d have expected to see a handful of each spread around the city.

And no, I don’t see the point of searching on my rubbish internet connection to find out where they are; I don’t need to shop there, the point is I expect all these designers to have a high profile here.

Back at the cathedral there is a line waiting formed with a multitude of umbrellas but we still get inside within a few minutes. It’s worth the effort to see inside what has now become a magical place, one that I seem to be able to spot from whatever neighbourhood I’m in.

Whilst thinking on where to eat on the last night (we never did find anywhere ‘dressy’ to eat) I recall the two recommendations I’d received from a fashion editor via Twitter. With the lack of reliable internet access, we only found the street name for one and duly set out for Sunday evening dinner.

The last supper

As we turn into Via Montenapoleone, I realise this is where I’d noticed the sign pointing to the Four Seasons this morning but we’d decided to turn on the next one. Of course it’s where all the fashionistas would come, its where are all the designer show rooms and offices are. Sure enough there is the predicted Versace (we’d seen most of the others by now) but just a little Versace ‘blue’, not a big shrine in ‘gold’. Disappointing.

In the dark rain, we don’t find the restaurant – it must have been on a side street- so we carry on to two more. Both times, we step inside; put our wet umbrellas down only to be told they are closing. It’s not yet 8pm. On the second one we even check the closing time first, 10pm. They still tell us they are closed, after we have shaken brollies, stepped right inside the place and started taking hats and coats off. The shops are closed now so I guess the market is not there but it’s still odd.

We find something to eat in what looks like a family chain, Brek and go back to the hotel.  Later in the evening, it’s just a small crema ice cream for me on the last night in Milan.

Final part to follow.


Adventures in Milan – Day 2

Birthday coffee

Birthday coffee

Gucci, Gucci, wherefor art thou, Gucci?

Not that I need to buy anything from there but it’s just odd that of the hundreds of shops I’ve seen whilst mooching about today, not one is Gucci or Armani or Versace for that matter. Some American designers have a presence and there’s a Vivien Westwood around the corner but of the Italians, I’ve just seen Dolce & Gabanna. I’ve seen a Gucci shopping bag but that doesn’t count.

There are a few lingerie chains so as it should be, Italians like to look good from the underside out. There is comfort in the lack of skyscrapers although a Pirelli one is highlighted on the map. I think I’ve spotted it – now that they mention it – but I would say it’s just a tall building.

Thankfully my research into Starbucks is correct; there are none!

As was my previous experience of McDonalds in Florence ten years ago, their food is better here. However, now it is improved even more; McCafe Italiano serves Tiramisu, amongst other delights and has decent coffee. Don’t think I’ll be trying the coffee back home though. 

There is a downside to everything being so fast in Milan; I can’t slow down for a coffee. In the USA, I’d happily spend an hour or two relaxing with a book or magazine, or just writing in a comfortable coffee shop. Here, as in Madrid, they have lots of stand up coffee places and the coffee only comes in one size, tiny, so I can’t linger with it. It’s ridiculously expensive too. Last night, paid €2.80 for espresso and this morning €4 for cappuccino! It’s all delicious of course.

Right, off to choose this evening’s gelato to see if I can beat last night’s latte & nutty soya combo.

Milan Italy fashion clothes travel holiday Gucci Versace coffee D&G