A six hour drive from Pisa landed us in Milan, with most of the trip being via hills and back roads. We managed to catch peak hour traffic for the last half hour before finally arriving at the caravan park. From the outside it appeared to be closed, the shut main gate being quite uninviting, but once inside we found it was surprisingly busy. It was a decent park too, with a family-friendly petting zoo to one side. For dinner Danny cooked porcini mushroom risotto with truffle oil – how many people have a private chef on hand 24/7 to cook them meals like this??
Our initial plan was to visit Milan at night to experience the famous nightlife, but after the long drive and the fact that it was already late (by our standards) we decided to give it a miss. Instead, we decided to make a cake. When I say 'make', I mean we opened a packet of pre-prepared cake batter bought at the supermarket, poured it straight into a tin and cooked it in the oven. It turned out better than expected, although it was definitely not high quality like our main meal.
The following morning we said goodbye to our furry friends in the caravan park's mini farm (the goats were my favourite) and parked near the train station to catch the train into Milan. We came out at a huge piazza, which was dominated by the Gothic Duomo. It is supposedly the fourth or fifth largest church in the world (depending on who you talk to), and I wasn't going to dispute that fact - it was gigantic. I also wasn't surprised that it took six centuries to complete.
Nearby the tourist office we found a large castle with a series of courtyards through the middle. I was eager to explore the grounds, but the courtyards turned out to be fairly boring and the museums inside didn't interest us at all, so we left soon after arriving. We then took a long walk to a design shop for Danny, which ended up being nothing like what he anticipated and he was a little disappointed. However, this journey did take us away from the grand, neat, business-like buildings of the city centre to the more easy-going, less ostentatious outer areas. It was peaceful strolling around the quite streets, admiring the cafe culture that wouldn't have looked out of place in Melbourne. Milan definitely did not have the run-down feel that other Italian cities tended to have.
On the way back in the centre we stumbled upon a wine tasting taking place in a tiny courtyard off a side street. We would have walked straight past if it wasn't for an American-Italian woman dragging people in to the few trestle tables set up with wine bottles. She didn't need to ask us twice. We sampled a few wines, all by a small, local producer and all at bargain prices. Each of the red wines had a slight fizziness to them, which I found decidedly off-putting. Danny ended up buying a bottle of Barbera for their effort.
Once I could pull Danny away from the free wine, we passed through a beautiful shopping arcade to end up back at the Cathedral again, and this time we ventured inside. The interior was massive (obviously), dark (even with the lights on) and lined with paintings hanging from the ceiling. I wouldn't say it was the best cathedral I've seen.
Our final sightseeing mission was to visit a small church that held the original Last Supper painting by Da Vinci. We knew it would be a long shot to turn up on the day and hope to see it, and we were right – sold out. With that falling through, our brief tour of the city was complete. We then said ciao not only to Milan, but also to the unexpectedly wonderful, fascinating and eye-opening country of Italy.