[Sept 15, 2007]
Our last stop in Italy was Milan. It was another 5 hours worth of bus ride. I remember feeling quite dejected throughout the bus ride. So far, we have been to Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, and then Italy. Italy was my least favorite country.
I mean, yeah, we’re on a tour group, everything was so rushed, so it was definitely not a very comprehensive indicator of how good this country is as a vacation destination. But what I have felt so far was:
- Italy is a f**king crowded place. We’ve been to Venice, Rome, Pisa and Florence so far, all of them were filled with people to the brim. It was very difficult to just go for a simple walk and enjoy the atmosphere.
- I was always under the impression that all Italians are food experts, so I expected ALL their food are supposed to be yummy. Sadly, that was not the case for Chinese restaurants and hotel restaurants in Italy. All the hotel breakfasts and Chinese dinners that we had in Italy were appalling!
- I was also under the impression that Italians are one of the most friendly people in the world. Unfortunately, the Italians that I encountered: the hotels’ staff, cafes’ waitresses, shop owners, etc, were mostly rude and unfriendly.
I remember feeling that I could not wait for us to reach Milan, complete the Italy leg of our tour and get the hell out of this country.
Anyway… so… we arrived in Milan. We were dropped off somewhere in the city center to proceed on foot to our sightseeing destination.
The moment I got off the bus, I could immediately feel that Milan seems to be different compared to the other Italian cities that I have just visited. The streets were less crowded, and there were people relaxing and sipping coffee at the various alfresco cafes by the road side.
So Paul brought us for a walk along Via Dante, which he said is one of the loveliest street in Milan.
At the end of this street is the Piazza del Duomo [Cathedral Square].
Paul has clearly learned his lessons with us. He knew we were only interested in taking photos and not listening to him talk history, so he quickly introduced the two major attractions here: Duomo di Milano [Milan Cathedral] and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II [Victor Emmanuel II Gallery]. And then he set us off. We were given an hour to roam this area by ourselves. And so we did…
I noticed every city in Italy has something something named after Vittorio Emanuele II. Back then, I did not know who this fella was. But now I know. He was the first king of modern Italy. The Italians call him Padre della Patria [Father of the Fatherland]. If I am to use simple language, he is probably like the Tunku Abdul Rahman, Lee Kuan Yew or George Washington of Italy.
And apparently, this Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is also the oldest shopping mall in the world. Most of the most prestigious European brands can be found in this shopping mall.
This was also where we found lunch. I mean, yeah, we saw that street food vendor on the street earlier, but for some reason that I could not remember, we decided to have this for lunch instead…
I think it was something along the line of “Let’s see if the McDonald’s in such a high end shopping mall is any different compared to the normal ones!”
It wasn’t. It was exactly the same as any other McDonald’s…
When we grabbed our lunch takeaways, we were planning to venture a bit further and see if there were any other interesting stuff to see, but then, we spotted this instead..
That’s right. There was an MTV stage set up at one corner of the plaza, and an MTV concert was beginning. This was entirely unexpected, but we ended up just spending the rest of our time in Milan staring at the stage, chanting along with the crowds even though we had no idea who the singers on stage were.
In the end, we squandered the time which was supposed to be for exploring the area, but it was very fun. It was a much happier ending to our Italy leg of the tour than I had expected, and I was pleased.
Will I ever want to visit Italy again some time in the future? I suppose, yes, if the opportunity arises. But it won’t be my first choice. You know, I don’t do crowds, and all the big cities in Italy are like, super mega crowds. Maybe I would try to visit some small Italian towns instead if I get the opportunity in the future…