I made another quick stop in Milan en route to my next WWOOFing farm in Toscana. I stayed at Philippe’s again, where I’d left a few of my warmer clothes to lighten my painfully and embarrassingly heavy load. My just-bought-for-Italy-early-birthday-present digital camera had broken right before I left Varenna, so I wasted an afternoon trekking out to the outskirts of town to a Sony repair center. When I got there, they were still in the middle of their two-hour lunch break. (When do people get all their errands done?) Knowing only one way to kill time, I wandered until I found a legit looking artisanal gelato shop. I got marron glaces and, on the owner’s recommendation, chocolate fondente. I rarely, if ever, order chocolate based flavors at home, but this is the real deal….pure, dark chocolate and a texture that’s 90% gelato 10% sorbet. The owner gave me a frequent buyer card, which I gifted Philippe. Turns out I’d stumbled across the one place in that neighborhood his friends had raved to him about. He’d thought of recommending it to me, but couldn’t remember its exact name or location. Perhaps I’ve discovered my sixth sense?
Thank goodness I found that gelato shop (can’t remember the name), because Sony repair was a bust. They reconfirmed my knowledge that yes, it was not a problem with the battery and yes, it was definitely broken. They needed at least a week to fix it, so I decided to go to a shop near my next WWOOFing farm instead. That would be a painful camera-free 2+ week ordeal, so I depended on other WWOOFers for my pics from Le Serre in Tuscany.
The spectacular Duomo and Teatro alla Scala alone made up for all the camera drama. This time, I climbed up to the top of the Duomo and I was blown away. It’s really astonishing to see such intricate detail on such a truly massive scale, and you see this phenomenon on a whole other level from the roof.
Milan’s opera house, Teatro alla Scala (‘the steps’), is another masterpiece. With a bit of patience and determination, we managed to snag a couple of seats through the theater’s last minute reservation system. Our seats were as high as you can go…so high that to see, I had to stand up from my seat and lean against a column on the side of our little “box” (imagine a thousand little sections of six seats forming a scalloped border around the ground floor at each level). I had a pretty active viewing process, alternating between standing to watch the performers and leaning over to read the screen in front of my seat for the translation, but I was too excited to be there to mind. The show was Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, a lighthearted romantic comedy about a scammer who comes to town and sells a lustful lad a bottle of wine disguised as “love potion.” It’s a cute show, replete with the money-hungry, gossipy, gullible townspeople, aloof object of affection who only wants what she can’t have and a thickheaded, but sympathetic protagonist.
A walk around Milan’s fashion district, a prettier, more pedestrian-friendly 5th Avenue, made me nearly forget any “the simple life is all you need” notions from my time on the farms. Drawn inside by the neon-feather adorned mannequins, I indulged myself in trying on just one thing: a fabulous off-white coat at the fabulous Krizia, rippled collar and slightly bubbled body forming one soft piece of perfection. It looked like a wool-cashmere blend, but was actually 100% silk and over $1000 Euros. I told the kind saleslady thank you, but it’s a bit too large, and called it a day.
Milano was nice, but there were too many pushy people, angry drivers and crowded buses making my head throb and giving me flashbacks to New York. I was ready to get back to the country, this time in Toscana.