Coming back to the place where the mountains met the sky: we were heading Bergamo – a small, provincial city in Lombardy, northern Italy. We saved it for later though, and right after landing we took a bus to Milan, which is about an hour away. We had no specific plan, no timeline and no checkpoints drawn on the map – we just happened to take a plane and wanted to rest in a different, warmer country for two days. And although the ‘warmer’ part wasn’t exactly there (as we might have expected, based on the previous trips), all in all, it was very nice.
What made me (and Her) even more cut off from home for these two days were the telephones that refused to connect to any available cellular network or WiFi. And as I came to notice on the bus to Milan, we weren’t the only ones. At first it was annoying, then funny, then I just forgot about it and enjoyed the “freedom” that came along with it.
As soon as we got off the bus, we spotted this splendid palace which.. turned out to be the central station! So big, and elegant. In fact, while walking down the Via Manzoni street, all appeared to be elegant: exclusive exhibitions, fancy hotels, shiny cars, and most of all – stylish people.. Apparently there’s a reason why Milan is considered the second most important fashion capital of Europe.
Now, I said there was no specific plan; but the one place we wanted to see for sure was Piazza del Duomo – the main city square. This is where they decided to build the Milan Cathedral in fourteenth century, and surround it with equally magnificent buildings (like the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II or the Royal Palace). It took almost six hundred years to complete the cathedral, which made it a mixture of many contrasting styles; but the final effect, though not initially wanted to be the way it is today, makes a huge impression. Not to mention the size – this is the fifth largest cathedral in the world. What’s interesting, it’s roof is open to tourists, which allows to admire the sculpture on top, as well as the Milan skyline (not less important!). And that’s not over. There’s also a dark timeless and tremendous world inside of the cathedral, almost reminding me of the vastness of dungeons of Moria..
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, on the other hand, is one of the world’s oldest shopping centers. It’s named after the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. These glass domes, marble floors and arches combined with expensive old-style restaurants and luxury retailers made me move back at least a hundred years ago, which I found amazing until.. one small detail disturbed this world – the street vendors, that would do anything to talk you into buying whatever they were selling at the moment, including fastening some lame “GucciGabana” bracelets on your wrists. I’m aware that this is how they earn money to have their basic needs met and that they “feel” what they do, so I don’t have anything against them – as long as they’re “calm”. Unfortunately, they never are.. they’re incredibly annoying! And they’re everywhere – just when you think you passed them all, there’s twice as many waiting behind the corner. It took us a while to find a way to avoid them. They’re good psychologists and know exactly who’s more prone to give in and who’s strong and would easily blow them off, so the most important thing is probably what you do with your face. Simply ignoring them hardly ever works, as they tend to follow you until they run across someone else, so my advice is just to try acting like them and to offer them a bag of, say, chestnuts you found in the park – “for 5 Euros only”! They’ll let you go.
There are a number of important landmarks, museums and other buildings, half of which we saw and half of which we left for the next time, as we also wanted to visit Bergamo the next day – and so we did. Unfortunately, the weather made it impossible to admire the vast panorama from the upper part of the city – the old town. Fortunately, the old town itself was still there, so after a few hours of strolling around Bergamo, which remarkably resembled the small Croatian towns by the sea (oh, good memories..) we ended our carefree, two-day trip and took the plane back to reality.
Of course, the satisfaction came back with us.