La Bella Italia

October 25, 2015 Published by Dina 16 Comments

The much anticipated trip to Italy is underway and we are now well settled in our apartment in Milano, minutes away from all the main attractions that come to mind when you think of Milan.

The trip across the pond was, you know, air travel, with all the associated indignities.

Take you shoes off, take the computer out, take a picture with the big camera to show it is really a camera, wait in line, delayed flights, lugging suitcases and walking forever to reach your gate. Did I mention sleeping on an airplane?

To be honest, it wasn’t that bad. Flying business class helps but somehow the proverbial pea in the stack of mattresses presses against me and I can’t get comfortable, unlike my husband who seem to enjoy everything and has very few complaints. (I am the head of the complaint department sharing this position with my friend Laura. Sorry Val, you are not in:).

But get here we did and of course, it was worth the minor indignities and inconvenience we suffered en route.

We landed at Malpensa airport and a driver waited for us with my name splashed across a raised iPad screen and drove us to our destination in a beautiful shiny black SUV, courtesy of the rental company through which we rented our apartment.

The apartment is located in the center of Milan in a lovely residential building with a concierge and an elevator. The apartment itself is comfortable, if minimally decorated and has a small kitchen out of which we could cook a couple of meals during our stay. We are in Milano for only 10 days and I don’t intend to do a lot of cooking. I have several restaurants on my list and I don’t want to buy too much food and drag it with us when we leave, which often happens as I am kind of out of control when it comes to buying foodstuff. I always have big plans.


Galleria Vittorio Emmenuele

Galleria Vittorio Emmenuele – shutterstock image

So here we are in Milan, a beautiful, sophisticated, historical city blending the old with the new in a seamless fashion. Just walking around the streets is an education.

I am told that Milan does not impose a restrictions to maintain architectural continuity in its neighbourhoods and you often see architecture reflecting baroque, renaissance, fascism and modernism standing side by side. Focus on preservation and repurposing makes this possible. These buildings tell the story of Milan through the different stages of its history. The Spanish, Austrian and French were some of rulers of Milan and left their mark on this beautiful city. The first public library was built under the Spanish rule. Teatro alla Scala was built under Austrian rule and Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned King of Milan in the Duomo. Perhaps the most interesting history involves the Visconti and Sforsa families and their Coat of Arms , snake and an eagle, respectively, are seen throughout the city. But in the end, Milan is distinctly Milan and belongs to its chic population.


Pastry shop

Pastry shop

Milan is a dynamic city with a chic urban, social and cultural style. Right now it is hosting three major events. One is the World Expo and the other is MITO 2015, the International Music Festival and BookCity, a literary event to promote reading as an individual and collective event. These events are bringing millions of visitors to the city. Expo Milano ends at the end of October and will visit there this week. The music festival takes place on an enormous stage right in the Pizza del Duomo with deafening (sorry) sound of contemporary music spreading from there in the early evenings.

Like most visitors, on our first night here we went to the Piazza del Duomo for a walk and a late dinner. Since the music festival was in full swing we passed along the edge of the noisy piazza to escape the loud sound and walked into Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Now that’s a stunning glass and steel structure not to be missed. The soaring glass dome in the center connects four large glass topped corridors where expensive shops and restaurants cater to the top 1% of monied population wherever they originate. We paid (unintentionally) 200 Euros plus for a dinner for two.

Dinner under the glass dome of the Galleria was an interesting experience but not the kind of authentic food experience I am interested in. The salads came without the olive oil and vinegar bottles that are placed on the table so you can drizzle your own dressing on the salad. My order of risotto with chestnuts appeared as risotto Milanese, made with saffron and no chestnuts. I had to wait for the parmesan to be shaved over the risotto and the chestnuts and ricotta dessert we ordered seemed to have been made with figs instead. You know, not the way it should be, especially at that price. Still the quality of food was good. The risotto was beautifully prepared, the salads were crisp and fresh and the figs were good with the ricotta mousse. We left it at that but will know better for next time. Do not eat where they cater to deep pocketed tourists.

Tonight it’s off to the opera at the famous Teatro alla Scala a few minutes walk from our abode (performing Verdi’s Falstaff), tomorrow dinner at a private home through Eat With and Monday, viewing of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper at the Santa Maria della Grazie. We are up for the adventure and exploration and will continue to report back on these pages.

If you have been to Milan and have suggestions please tell me in the comments below.

Stayed tuned, wish you were here.




Pizza at Piade in Piazza

Pizza at Piade in Piazza

Scooter at Piade in Piazza

Scooter at Piade in Piazza






  • Joanne says:

    It’s always a pleasure to read of your cooking and travel adventures. Your photos are wonderful.
    We’ve been to many places in Italy, but never Milan. Will we see you in PB this December?

    • Dina says:

      Joanne, thank you, always nice to know you read the blog. We loved Milan, such an interesting city with great food and a lot of history and culture. Italy has many faces. We are here until February travelling around so will have to miss PB this year. The Italian family in whose condo we are staying right now will be in our PB condo at Christmas. Will have to miss you this year, unfortunately but hope to see you next year, unless you are coming to Kelowna in the summer. Ciao.

  • Jeannette Ramsden says:

    Such a treat to read this Dina….I opened it just as I was in the middle of making pasta with my new gadget! Reading this post makes me want to go an learn Italian and spurs me on to try a similar trip.

    • Dina says:

      Thanks Jeannette, lovely to hear from you. I took a pasta making class here the other day and got inspired to make it again (I have in the past). Looking forward to seeing your new gadget. We should do a pasta workshop together in my kitchen when we get back.

  • Barbara says:

    Hi Dina! After two wonderful weeks of learning, speaking, living Italian, I go back home to VANCOUVER. Rome is, alas just filled with tourist-trap style restaurants. They are not really bad, but not very Roman! Matricenella was a very good one! Via dei Leoni. Chocolate @ Venchi the best best best! Enjoy everything!! Love,

    • Dina says:

      Hi Barbara, nice to hear from you. I have been following your Rome adventure on FB. Thank you for the restaurant recommendation, we will give both a try. It sounds like I may have to do some cooking while in are loving Milan. XO.

  • Karen Sarmaga says:

    Thank you for sharing Dina and George, I love your reporting. We never made it to Milan, but Gene really wants to go back to Italy. It looks really beautiful. Keep us posted.

  • Laura says:

    The first trip report! Yay! If I can’t be there myself, this is how I want to receive my European education 🙂 Your posts have just the right mix of humor, history, food, and fun. I can’t wait to read all about the “Eat With” adventure!

  • Gaby says:

    So good to hear from you Dina. The airplanes and
    Airports part is not so enjoyable to me too, but once you
    Get to destination and can settle in the fun starts and
    That is the reason of the journey. Are you having good weather?
    Are you going to visit the Navigli neibourghood on your
    Schedule? Hope your next dinners will go better!
    Stay well! Ciao alla prossima!

    • Dina says:

      Gaby, nice to hear from you. We are loving everything, what a beautiful city and the best dressed people I have ever seen. We are at Expo right now, very interesting. Talk soon.

  • Debbie Hudson says:

    Yes, I agree with Philly – we are on an adventure!

  • Philomena Whiteside says:

    Hip hip hooray!!! I am off to Italy…..via Dina:/)

    • Dina says:

      Hi Philly, great to hear from you, you always make me enjoy a good laugh. If you experience travel through me you have to take the good and the bad, you know me, there is always something. XO.

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