Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Monday, October 31, 2005

Milan - Day 1

The train arrives about 5 minutes late and it's about another 10 minutes later that I finally exit the station. The walk from carriage 3 to the top of the platform is a good 5 minutes and from there it's another 5 to go through the actual building. the station is just massive and a most imposing structure as I pull away in the taxi.

It's a pretty easy ride - the driver knows where to go and he uses his meter and without too much fuss I'm at the hotel.

This is a four star hotel, which begs the question how bad is a 2 star hotel. The room is probably generously sized for Europe but looks nothing like the photos the hotel uses to advertise itself. The bathroom is another of these 1970's jobs. It seems in the bathroom sink I have a hot water tap and a hotter water tap.

By the time I settle myself into the room it's around one, so I decide to kill a couple of birds with one stone.

The hotel is about a 15 minute walk to the Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele so I should be able to find some place to eat, either on the way there or around there. Once again I travel light, armed only with my camera phone.


It does seem that renovation work is a constant - the main facade of the Duomo hidden by scaffolding. The piazza and Duomo still are even more stunning than I could have imagined. It's sort of one of those pinch yourself moments - for if that wasn't enough, there's still the Galleria!


For a time my mother lived in Milano and one of the things she took with her when she moved to Australia was a postcard of the Galleria, so in one of those full circle moments I've actually taken the postcard with me on this trip.





There was one notable difference and I must admit it made my heart sink - how could they allow this to appear not only in the galleria but in one of the prime corners of the galleria


When I headed back outside I noticed that a significant crowd had built up -


girls screaming as they looked up towards one of the balconies


I stayed for a while, trying to work out who was causing this hysteria - eventually the reason appeared to the crowd to a chorus of screams - it's Oasis! Imagine the reaction if it was someone really famous ;)

After this brief brush with fame I ended up at a cafe for a late lunch. Oh dear, the food situation isn't improving. I order what looks to be a nice Cotoletta Milanese with vegetables. What I get is a microwaved meal! The dishes that I thought were display dishes are in actuality what they serve. The plated meal is plonked in the microwave and pinged. I feel as if I'm in an alternative Italy, this cannot be what Italian cuisine has become.

When I returned to the hotel I was rather downcast but decided to explore my closer surrounds to see what was on offer. Opposite the hotel I found two bakeries producing what looked to be lovely traditional sweets and just a few doors from the hotel I found a cafe, where over a perfectly made Cafe Latte I cheered up some.

For dinner I decided to try out a panini bar (Bar della Crocetta just down from the hotel. I had seen their menu in the hotel's information book and noticed that they had Culatello available. Culatello is the king of salami and I've been meaning to try some during this trip.

To cut a long story short, I order the Culatello panino to take away - just in case it proved inedible. As I sat in my room with the toasted panino in my hands - I took a bite and all those bad feelings just disappeared. This was ambrosia. If I couldn't find anywhere else to eat, there was still this place.

Train - Bologna to Milano

Well, I'm just about back on my original schedule and today I head to Milan.

Depending on which type of train you're on the trip will take between 1 hour 44 minutes and 2 hours 22 minutes.

Once again it's a different type of train - the 70's wallpaper and blue seats are gone and I find myself sitting in this


Sunday, October 30, 2005

Bologna - Day 3

Amongst the many items available for breakfast at the Hotel you can find three different types of croissant - plain, wholemeal and jam filled. So it was rather humorous to see a couple scraping out the jam from their croissant so they could then put cheese in it. It does pay to read the labels!

After my breakfast entertainment it's off to once again explore the streets of Bologna


It's no surprise Armani is housed in such a stylish building.


These next photos are taken around the Basilica di San Domenico which is also known as Santa Maria delle Vigne.

0DSC_8388.jpg 0DSC_8392.jpg

The structure on the right is the tomb of Egidio Foscarari (1289) and to the left and below is the tomb of Rolandino de'Passeggeri (1305).


In the distance to the right you can just make out the column of St Dominic.


This is the Church of Santo Stefano which is made up from four medieval churches. The main structure dates from the 11th century and is the Church of the Crucifix.

For lunch I returned the site of my first lunch

0DSC02620.jpg 0DSC02622.jpg

this time I enjoy a plate of freshly sliced prosciutto. I don't know how I'll be able to face locally made prosciutto since I've had the authentic versions - they just don't compare.

As it's Sunday there's not that much to do so I spend it back in my room getting ready to leave tomorrow - in case you wondered, this is my room.


While the room was really very nice I can't really say the same for the bowl of pasta I had for dinner at the Hotel restaurant tonight. I ordered Tortellini Bolognese as I felt like some comfort food. After all I am in Bologna and what other place would be more appropriate than this to be having "Bolognese".

Well, the dish that was eventually presented left me bewildered. Instead of a wonderful rich meat ragu, the tortellini were coated in a thin white sauce speckled with a fine dice of pancetta. The tortellini weren't cooked evenly, some were stuck together and others were still hard.

I must be honest and say that I've been less than impressed with the food I've had here in Bologna and that's a hard thing to say considering it's reputation. Apart from two lunches that I had at the same little cafe, it's left me wondering if the prevalence of McDonalds is the cause of this gastronomic decline. Perhaps I just looked in the wrong areas but I didn't seem to have this problem in Torino but then again I didn't notice McDonalds there either.

For more Bologna photos, look here

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Bologna - Day 2

After a hearty breakfast at the Hotel I am ready to hit the sights.

My first destination are the twin towers - Torri degli Asinelli e Garisenda located in the Piazza di Porta Ravegnano.


The tower to the left is the taller, Torre deglis Asinelli, the shorter is the Torre degli Garisenda.

0DSC_8219.jpg 0DSC_8260.jpg



There's one thing you'll see a lot of in Bologna, besides McDonalds, and that are covered walk-ways

some still with the vestiges of their original frescoes

A short walk away and it's back to the Basilica di San Petronio on Piazza Maggiore


It's a spectacular church, the fifth largest but as you can see it remains unfinished


Work began in 1390 but was only consecrated in 1954.

0DSC_8291.jpg 0DSC_8293.jpg

On this same Piazza you'll also find the Palazzo del Podestà


and the Palazzo dei Banchi


Just off to one side is the Piazza Nettuno named for it's fountain


the Fontano del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) was made in the 16th century by Flemish sculptor Jean Boulogne. Neptune stands atop with four angels that represent the four winds and below them four sirens, who really have to be seen to be believed...


Yes, they are watching water spray from their nipples - they are said to represent the four continents that were known at the Renaissance.

My next destination involved a short bus trip into the nearby hills to visit the Chiesa di San Michele in Bosco (Church of St Michele).


from here you get views of Bologna, though you may have to find the gaps between the trees to do so



The inside of the church was quite lovely too

0DSC_8322.jpg 0DSC_8310.jpg



From here I heading back into the city itself and stumbled upon the market in full force. I haven't taken that many photos as it was quite busy.

meat pasta


After this I winded my way back to the hotel as I had plans for later in the afternoon.


Pausing to take a few more photos of the interesting architecture


and the utterly delightful covered walkways

0DSC_8348.jpg 0DSC_8351.jpg

as well as a couple more churches.


So what were my plans...well they involved spending time with one of these