Saturday, August 14, 2010


Milan is an interesting city.  It is full of contrasts.  On the one hand, it is fast paced, upscale, and fashionable.  On the other, it is industrial and international.  Nowhere else in Italy did we find so much Thai and Indian food.  We decided to go to Milan in the first place because it is on the way to Switzerland from southern Italy and it is the home of La Scala, a very famous opera house where I hoped to see an opera.

First thing we decided to explore the downtown area.  Milan has the largest Gothic cathedral in Europe, and we wanted to go inside.  They didn't let us because our knees were too sexy.  Oh well.  Try again later.

The shopping in Milan is totally ridiculous.  It attracts my least favorite sort of people.  I will relate to you a conversation that I overheard while waiting in line to not be allowed into the Duomo.

High School Aged Girl From New York:  Did I ever tell you that my parents met Barack Obama?

High School Aged Boy From New York:  Yeah.  Yeah, you did.

Girl: Oh.  Well, they did meet him.

Boy: That's really cool.

Awkward silence.

Girl: Like, they shook his hand and everything.

Boy: Yep.

Girl: I just haven't been able to find the right Prada bag!  I don't know what to do!  Like, I really want a Prada bag and everything, but I already bought a Louis Vuitton in Paris, you know, and I don't want to repeat myself, God forbid.  Prada is like, so cool.

Boy: ...

So there was a lot of that icky stuff.  We wandered around in some of the high fashion stores and I was struck by how smart the Louis Vuitton fashion scheme is.  A generic print as a status symbol.  You can put it on anything and it'll look fine, and it costs the people who make it nothing.  Not that I could replicate it, or anything, but I'm not the most visually sensitive person in the world.  I don't get high fashion.  And I hate skinny models.  Stepping off the soap box.

Next stop: castle!  The castle in Milan now houses a bunch of different museums, but Sophie and I were more interested in the feral cats and four-leafed clover that populated the park behind it.  Look at how much we're enjoying ourselves!

The park was really beautiful and unexpected.  I love parks.  Trees and water make me calmer.  As do feral kitties.

We wanted to eat one nice dinner in Milan, and we had heard great things about a place called Nobu that served Japanese/South American fusion.  I should have figured out that it wasn't the right kind of place for me based on its location: it shares a building with the massive Armani store just north of the city center.  As a matter of fact, I now recall that it is called "Armani/Nobu."  Anyways, we sat down to order some drinks before dinner and abruptly noticed that all of the drinks were priced at fifteen euros.  All of them.  Every.  Single.  One.  Want water?  Fifteen euros.  Want beer?  Fifteen euros.  I was so pissed off by the idea of someone even trying to pull some bullshit like that I grabbed Sophie by the collar and screamed out of there. It was like they were making fun of my money.  So not cool.

In the end we ate at a Thai restaurant near our hotel.  The food was awesome and I was really happy about going there, which is all you can ask for in the end.

We saved money in Milan by eating at an Asian-owned Italian restaurant four or five times over the course of our three days.  One of our reasons for eating there was actually to save money, but the other was that it was the only restaurant that we found that was actually open all day.  Most restaurants in Italy close between two and seven, which is almost always when Sophie and I want to eat.  It just so happened that the pasta at this place, which was really pretty good, cost five euros per portion.  In fact, of all the places we went to in Europe, Italy had the best cheap food.  It was the only place we found that didn't have an abrupt drop in quality below a certain price point.  Why I just decided to tell you that, I don't know.  It's my blog and I'll do what I want.

The next day we actually managed to enter the Duomo.

Look!  Stained glass!

The rest of the day we sort of lazed and wandered and ate more cheap Italian food etc.  Saw a Ferrari F1 car.  Saw more fashion stuff.  Saw gelato in front of my face before it entered my mouth.

At night I went to the opera.  La Scala is sort of the spiritual heart of opera in Italy, which is sort of the spiritual heart of opera worldwide, so you will be surprised when you hear me say this: I didn't like it.  Let me explain.

I love opera.  I love opera so much that for a while I thought that I wanted to be an opera singer.  One of my favorite living tenors is Juan Diego Florez, and he happened to be singing at La Scala the night I went.  It should have been awesome.  But there were a few problems.

Step one: I am really, really tired of the Barber of Seville.  I've seen it live several times now, and it wasn't my favorite opera to begin with.  Step two:  La Scala is set up to emphasize privacy over acoustics and ability to see the stage.  There are tons and tons of mostly enclosed boxes, which is where I had a seat.  The problem was, my "seat" was actually a stool that was recessed four or five feet from the balcony, so I that I could only see about a third of the stage, and I had to crane my neck to do it.  The sound was impaired because I was so far back, and it was absolutely impossible for me to look at the little subtitle machine at the same time as the stage.  Step three: I have listened to recordings of Juan Diego Florez singing the arias from the Barber of Seville about a million times, and to tell you the truth, it wasn't that much better hearing him sing in a box at La Scala.  So I left halfway through, and even though it was a sort of blasphemous thing to do, I don't regret it.  I got to spend a little more time with Sophie that night than I would have otherwise, and I think that it was time well spent.


  1. Awwwww. I cannot believe Joe chose Sophie over opera at La Scala. Awwwww... Oh wait, THAT'S why people get married!
    Best blog ever, guys. I hope you are going to do the rest, even though you are coming home tomorrow. Pleeeeez :-)

  2. I'm with alaskagrllL. PLEASE!