Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Carmel's in Milano

A fleeting visit. She's off to play Italy's favourite  game in Torino. Go girl. 

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Third time lucky

Last Sunday after three attempts, Stefano finally made it to Pavia for lunch.
In November last year one of Stefano's colleagues recommended a day trip to Pavia, a university town known not only for its beautiful architecture, but also for its fabulous regional cuisine. Back then, when he was super busy at work, I did a quick search on Trip Advisor for a restaurant in Pavia specialising in local food and wine.  Caffe Percivate, a restaurant specialising in beer, but with an emphasis on regional produce was given a top 3 ranking. So Stefano made an email booking and looked forward to lunching on delicious cuisine from the Lombardy region, washed down with some amber ale rather than his usual vino rosso.
But Stefano's first attempt to visit Pavia was thwarted as deadlines at work intruded into his weekend.  I was disappointed for him of course, but happy that I could join him for a rescheduled Sunday lunch in Pavia when I arrived in December.
So on a very cold Sunday we set out for Pavia. At the train station we were unconcerned as we read 'treni cancellati' against most departure destinations, but not Pavia.  We waited expectantly on the platform enviously admiring others wearing thicker, warmer coats but consoling ourselves that soon we would be dining in Pavia's third best restaurant. After several freezing hours stomping our boots and rubbing our gloved hands together, we were dismayed to see that the words, 'treni cancellati' had moved like a cancer down the departure board till they reached Pavia. Stefano's lunch plans had been thwarted again but this time by striking Trenitalia workers. 
What a difference six months makes.
After a short train journey, less than an hour from Milan central, we finally strolled around Pavia to work up an appetite. First across the famous Ponte Coperto, a covered bridge which is often compared to the beautiful Ponte Vecchio in Florence, but the Pavia version is much less crowded. Then on through the quiet pedestrian streets where the only vehicles allowed are buses and bicycles. Past the impressive Basilica San Michele Maggiore, through the gardens of Castello Visconteo and around the buildings of the university which are dotted through the town.
Till there was only one thing left to do in Pavia...
We were not disappointed!
At Café Percivate Stefano was warmly greeted, almost like a long lost friend after his multiple emails booking and rebooking Sunday lunch. The food was delicious, particularly a local pancake made from chickpea flour then sprinkled with parmesan cheese and lightly grilled.
Stefano sampled several beers but thought he'd leave one in the fridge to try with company on our next visit.  Yes, we have already planned to return to Pavia during the university term. So, if you're visiting Milan in September or October be warned. You will be asked to join Stephano as he samples the next beer lined up on his tasting list...
ciao. vediamo la prossima settimana.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Has it really been three weeks?

Since we arrived in Milan we've enjoyed beautiful weather. Some days have begun a little cloudy and hazy, but then the sun has shone through. The temperatures soared last week but have now returned to pleasantly warm weather, perfect for exploring our new city by foot, tram and metro.  It's been even more fun exploring as we've had visitors already. 

Nic, a lovely friend I worked with in Sydney, stayed in a hotel down the road last week, so we toured the sights of Milano.
 We introduced Nic to some of our new favourite aperitivo bars,
browsed the shops along Corso Buenos Aires starting at a well known metro station.
Perhaps you recognise the name?
Window shopped on via della Spiga
 and strolled through our soon to be new neighbourhood, via Stendhal in Zona Tortona. 
After a relaxing weekend with Nic in Menaggio on Lake Como, Stefano and I said, "Arrivederci Nic!" and "Buongiorno Maddie!"

On her way home from another European adventure, our darling niece Maddie flew into Milan. She seemed instantly at home looking very Milanese sipping a capucci at our new favourite café on via Foppa.

We look forward to welcoming Nic and Maddie back to Milano one day very soon.

fino alla prossima settimana

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The same...but different!

For our return to Milan we once again flew with Emirates but this time we took the evening 9pm flight arriving in Milan around 1.30pm the following day.  What a difference it made flying through the night. No jetlag, unlike the trip last year when Stephen’s sleep pattern became so interrupted that over several weeks Cherie noticed him morphing into someone she’d never met before, “Grumpy Stephano”.  Not this time!

At long last, we're back.
The next most obvious difference has been the summer weather.  We arrived to blue skies, balmy temperatures and wonderful, bright evenings where it’s not dark till after 9.30pm.

With the lovely long evenings there’s plenty of time to enjoy Milan’s aperitivo bars. We’ve revisited some of the ones that Stephen and Cherie discovered in winter last year when they huddled inside.  But now in summer we’ve discovered more places to sip a glass of vino or a cocktail, and nibble on an aperitivo snack while sitting at sidewalk tables enjoying the passing Milanese parade.

 Having settled into our tiny studio apartment we’ve enjoyed walking along leafy shaded streets and discovering little gated, grassy parks that were invisible during the winter.  Last year by the time I arrived in winter they were bare and lifeless. Now they are lush oases dotted through this bustling city. 

So our return to Milan has been a little the same as last year but mostly it’s been very different, in a good way.
vediamo  a presto.