Il viaggio Archive

And so, all good things – and some very wet and drab things – must come to an end. As I alluded to in my opening postcard of this viaggio, I’m really not one for spending time on my own. So if that has shaped some of the postcards, in a negative way, then I guess it is part way understandable. That isn’t to say I haven’t had a good time – far from it. Moments like being on the terraces with the Pro Vercelli fans, finding a great pub in Lambrate to hitting the Birrifico Italiano brewery for their pils festival were so good – they they have given me ideas for future visits – just with others included. I like Milan. I’m not

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Memories, friendships, calories and Mulino Bianco products – are just some of the things I will be taking back from this trip. They are the lucky ones. For not everything I have with me in Milan will be making the return leg home. My shoes, which have served my working life and rare smart social appearance requirements so well to date (they’ve been crap, actually) – did not quite make the full trip. Neither did the toenail on my left foot. I’m not exaggerating when I say how much it rained yesterday – and how wet I got. My trusty Harrington is still damp, some 15 hours later – but the shoes are beyond saving; well, beyond wanting to save. The sole gave up the

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Everybody has the right to do to their body, what they so desire. It’s not for me to say if smoking is wrong, or that people should not smoke around me. It doesn’t bother me that much – accept for a very short window of the day; when I’m sat, eating a meal. I’m still slightly surprised by how many people in Italy smoke. More so, those that happily do so as they are eating. Although it was raining, hard, it was still fairly warm in Milan tonight. Add to that, the fact that I was eating in part burger bar/part cheesy club night – sounds a pumping – and it made sense to sit outside, under cover. That was until half the restaurant sparked

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I was going to give this post the subtitle ‘warmth’. Not as in temperature, but the warmth shown by one person to another – or in this case, lots of people. But then it started to rain. And rain. And rain. My whole top half is a mess of hair and cotton, stuck, like cling film, to each shivering part. I spent the afternoon in Vercelli. A small town between Milan and Turin; surrounded by a sea of risotto rice fields. As you catch the train, the submerged fields are all you can see for miles around. I was there to meet two lads, leaders of the Ghigni Bianchi – a supporters club of Pro Vercelli. We’d caught up earlier in the season through Facebook.

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I’ve done a fair bit of walking on this trip. As I’ve walked around, I’ve not, as is customary, looked in the expensive shop windows of Milan. I’ve been more interested in the grey, soulless looking buildings that sit above, or behind that gloss of fashion. It’s no secret that I would like to live out here one day – preferably in the North, either Turin or Milan. If I was to move the family – including Nonna *shudder* then, to do it before we are too old, I would have to find a job out here. Amy has taught English abroad before, and I guess would not be adverse to doing so again. I don’t think I have the patience/interest to spend the next

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Think of this postcard, not just as an update – but as a handy tip if you are a virgin to these shores. You see, there’s a chance where you may have to buy something to eat – that’s cheap and quick – that requires you to interact with someone behind a counter. Someone, who by the very nature of the counter’s presence, hates you – by default. This situation regularly arises in train station buffet bars. I think they’re great, quick and relatively inexpensive – especially when compared with back home. The key to these places is that you have to pay before you ask. Pay, not the people who will serve your food – but a person sat at the till – usually

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I tend to talk about Ice Cream, Gelato, a lot when I am in Italy. It is, as though, a holiday can only be measure by how good the Holy Trinity – of Gelato, Birra and History have been. I’ve already confirmed how good the beer is in an earlier post, and to be honest, Milan’s history is passing me by on this trip – but there is still plenty of space on this blog to cover gelato. I prefer to seek out an indie where possible – it can have multiple branches in the same city; but that’s about it. Unless I am in the north of the country. Then I seem to have found a default yardstick, by which to measure all others

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There are three things that Hamley’s always seems to have on sale as you walk through the door. Firstly there is the oil board that changes colour when you mark it with a plastic stylus. The other is a plane you throw and it comes back to you. The final thing is a small, spider like toy that you throw at a window and it slowly climbs down. There is something similar in Milan, as there was earlier this year in Rome. It is a tomato with a face, that when you throw it on a hard surface it “squashes”, before quickly regaining its shape. It’s basically tat. The sort of tat that a small child would want, then get bored of once they realise

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Princi. Hidden on a side street, just out of site of Milan’s impressive Duomo, is Princi. Princi is a bakery. It was recommended to me ahead of this trip by Gino De Blasio – firstly through tweets he’d sent from his own Milanese excursion, and then via email to make sure. Princi is a long, thin bakery with a counter, which is split in to five sections, which runs the length of the unit. When you walk in you will see the bread piled high in the window. Next is a patisserie area with cakes, pastries and flans of all varieties – containing cream, fruit and lashings of chocolate. Next are the pizzas and focaccias, sold – as appears to be the way in Milan

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Let the train take the strain. That was Sir Jimmy’s advertising catchphrase. As though all other forms of transport were a hardship. I love catching the train in Italy. I love watching the countryside roll by as I stare, transfixed at the rolling landscape as it flashes past my window. What makes it all the better, is that I usually travel first class – especially on the regional trains. Yesterday, as I stood in front of the ticket machine, trying to buy a ticket to Milan, from Bergamo, in Italian – I noticed that the difference between first and second class was €1. A 50 minute journey with only a euro’s difference in class? Why are people even bothering to travel second class? Admittedly first

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