Day 7: A Italian daytrip
We arose quite early to head out to Milan for the day. The breakfast was the same as before, and I was very pleased. This time we had to bring a packed lunch prepared by the villa in order for us to save some money in Milan. We caught a train to Lugano, and then switched to another train that would park us in the heart of Milan in an hour or so. I slept on the train, so within what seemed like a few moments, I was stepping off the train in the Milan main subway system. This was the first big city on the trip agenda, so we were not exactly used to worrying about such things as pick pockets and harassing street vendors, or the grimy, crowded subway. So far Italy was not putting on a great first impression. Immediately upon exiting the subway we met a VT Alumni, Greg, who was temporarily working in the city, and he helped us figure out the rest of the subway route, and made plans for us for dinner in the city. When we finally got out into the surface, we were immediately stormed by a few African street beggars who grabbed my arm and after I pulled away my hands several times and told him I was not interested succeeded in putting some colored piece of string on my wrist while he kept telling me they were free and I was now his friend. He then tried to make me give him coins. By this point, all 20 of us had surrounded him, and Tront told me to walk away, so after trying in vain to get the string off, we all left, and he fearfully just moved on. Geez... I love Italy already.
Our first group stop was the Science museum, which contained many works of Leonardo Da Vinci, as well as many modern technologies. We had to share the three story museum with around 200 little Italian children, since the museum had some hands-on labs and apparently is a great place for a field trip. My small group at the box lunches first, and then explored the fairly complex museum. My favorite part was the floor that contained models of around 40 of the most famous inventions of Da Vinci, as well as a copy of The Last Supper.
We then went to a nearby church to see some of the famous art, but it had closed for a few hours for lunch, so we moved on to another church. We found the Cathedral of Milan, which was epic. The structure was a huge Gothic Cathedral with a highly ornate white marble exterior with hundreds of sculptures that was constructed in the 150 years. It was also the cathedral where Napoleon was crowned Emperor of Italy. Immediately next to it is a huge six story open air market center with a large glass arch covering. This apparently is the fashion capital of Milan and Italy and basically the world, with huge name stores like Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vittan, Mercedes, Armani, Ferrari, Swatch, Mc Cafe, and several other stores I can hardly pronounce. I was told that the shopping in Milan was great, but when a pen cost 75 Euros. Let us just say I stuck to window shopping.
After running around Milan for the day, we all met up at the Il Duomo where Greg joined us again and took us to our dinner reservations. It was a little odd because we went into this ritzy mall and got on the escalator... for dinner? We just kept going up and up, probably around 8 or 9 escalators to the very top of the fashion mall. It turns out that Greg got us roof top dinner reservations with his connections. It was really exciting and cool to be eating in such an exclusive, high brow place with an amazing view of the top of Il Duomo literally 30 feet away from my chair, and the food was great. We definitely had the hook ups on this trip.
So we finished our daytrip to Milan and we descended to the metro to hop over to the train station to return to Riva San Vitale. One stop before ours, Liz and Becky start yelling and Joe Tront runs out of the train and as the doors are closing I see him grab a lady about 27 years old by the arm. As we move to the next stop I find out that a woman stole a wallet from Liz out of her backpack. So this is the story as told by Joe The Man Tront: He grabbed one woman, who was apparently an accomplice, backhanded her to the floor, then as the other one started running, he literally kicked her butt, and as she fell to the ground, she threw the wallet back at him. He then turned and boarded the next train and arrived triumphantly to a roar of applause by all of us. Switching trains almost left us stranded in Lugano, but we made it on the last train out. Needless to say, Joe was the man. When we got back, we were all pretty darn tired, so I just hung out with some of the others until I went to bed.