Sunday, June 03, 2007

Weekend in Milan

Just back in Rome after a lovely and wonderful couple of days visiting one of my favorite Americans in Italy, my pal Sara. She and her adorable hubby were the perfect hosts, plying me with homemade pasta for Sunday lunch, homemade olive oil and homemade limoncello, and all sorts of the more random things that we expats love to horde and share. For example, I brought up some gossip mags in English that an American guest in my apartments had recently left with me, while Sara filled my bags with treasures like Ziplocs, cranberry juice, and Good Earth tea. All in all, a perfect weekend, and yet another testament to real-life friendships born from the blogosphere!

I had only briefly passed through Milan once, so this was my first real introduction to the city. From aperitivi on Corso Como (where I also had the pleasure of meeting another bloggy buddy, Michelle) to fried pockets of sinful goodness (luckily the line outside wasn't so long), I really enjoyed this Italian city. Yes, it was gray and rainy most of the weekend, but since I grew up outside of Seattle, that was fine by me. Of course, Milan definitely has a much different "city feel" than Rome. On the street I felt an air of fashion and sophistication of a certain type that we don't necessarily have here, with decidedly less of the chaotic tourist frenzy we get around this time of year. While I can appreciate Milan for its business savvy and crisp feel of relative efficiency, I must admit that the haphazard craziness of Rome still holds the #1 spot in my heart.

As far as curiosities go: have you ever heard of the tradition of spinning your right heel on the bull's balls in the Galleria? I certainly hadn't, and this action is reputed to bring said heel-spinner good luck. I was too busy filming it for you to take a spin myself:

We "just happened" upon a major event on Saturday for the Festa della Repubblica (Republic Day). A huge line-up of military personnel were in front of the spectacular backdrop of the Duomo while a military band played the Italian national anthem (which I have to admit I really like, as far as anthems go.)

We walked through Sara's surprisingly lively neighborhood outdoor market, and she also took me to a fascinating shop she recently discovered. We sparked up a conversation with the friendly owner, who told us interesting stories about how many people call the shop this time of year to report beehives they've discovered around (and in!) their apartments, and to get help with removing them.

Creative "bomboniere" or wedding favors, of tiny jars of honey with wooden dippers.

I was truly amazed by the selection of honey and honey-related products in this shop. There was everything from soaps and lotions to a huge assortment of flavored honey, candy and tea, and even honey-flavored grappa. Above you see the front shop of the window, with a veritable laundry list of ills that the various bee-produced products can cure ... from heavy legs to swollen feet, menopause to andropause (!?). I myself picked up a bag of "digestive sugar cubes." Oh, how I love this country and its charming contradictions. Sugar -- to help me digest? Yes, please!

And, jolly fun was had by all through the miracle of Twittervision. If you follow Sara's blog, then you have probably noticed that she's a technological and Internet genie-us, and while we were hanging out she showed me a bunch of cool stuff online, including this random, voyeuristic and reality-TV-like gizmo of a website.

And, last but not least, I even managed to pick up a photo souvenir for another of my favorite bloggy buddies, who I had the pleasure of meeting in person here in Rome earlier this year.

NYC/Caribbean Ragazza, this one's for you!


David Ourisman said...

I see they still have the giant "posters" in front of the Duomo. I can't imagine why anyone could intentionally detract from the architectural beauty of the cathedral itself...

Jul said...

It has been YEARS since that much of the Duomo's facade has been visible! I think this calls for a trip back to see it... My theory has been that the church likes making the extra cash off of the ads, so they've decided to continue the 'renovations' indefinitely. While we were living there, there was a big uproar about the fact that a Da Vinci Code ad was being displayed there at one point... d'oh!

Rose in Cali said...

Wonderful post, Shelley! It was worth the wait! The heel-spinning video was quite amusing. I especially love the billboard souvinir for nyc/caribbean ragazza! Troppo divertente!

Carole D. said...

Ciao Shelley,

I'm glad you enjoyed the gossip magazines.

My husband and I had a wonderful 3 days in Rome, staying in your apartments.
It felt as if we were staying with family. You provided much more than I expected. The location is perfect and because we had access to nearby transportation such as the Rome tour hop on/hop off bus we were able to get around and accomplish a lot of sight seeing in such a short time.

Grazie mille for a memorable time in Trastevere and I hope to be back again in the future.

springsandwells said...

hee hee. I love the men in underpants. The weirdest men in underpants billboards I've ever seen were actually in India - so out of context there, with such an exceptionally modest culture.

When I was living in Padua, on the other hand, I recall walking every day past a billboard with a giant topless lady on it - her enormous bronze boobs shining down upon me.

jessica said...

oh how funny....i send zip locs to my friend in budapest.

Michellanea said...

Thanks for the New Yorker. I devoured it in 48 hours. I'm going to pass it on to some other deserving reader. See all those Euros spent on the New Yorker didn't go to waste? :)

Caroline in Rome said...

Rome is more beautiful but Milan is more European, more savvy, and the people dress better.

By the way, it is possible to get ziplock bags anywhere in this country? Nice blog, by the way. I have added it to my list.

Ms Adventures in Italy said...

Shelley!!! You're so fast...I am working on the digestive sugar and fresh pasta posts from our weekend... :) I love billboards.

I think another meet-up in Florence is coming up soon!!! Then Rome, of course.

Caroline, those were my personal stash of Ziplocs I constantly replenish...lifesavers! They have some imitations here but I don't think the quality is as good.

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

David: From what I understand (Sara correct me if I'm wrong) those posters are covering the parts where they are still doing restoration work...?

Jul: If you come back you'll have to make a stop off in Rome though! And bring those fresh pork skins with you , will ya? ;-)

Rose: I know, NYC can start a collection now.

Carole: I was actually just about to write you an email!

Springs: Ciao! Yes, I remember the first time I saw an ad for this bubble bath on TV where this woman was so excited about the product (as she was shown taking a bath in the commercial) that she just had to throw her arms up over her head.... weeee! And her "twins" were there for the whole world to see, man, woman, child, grandma, everyone... can't be a prude and live in Italy, or else, you'll have a lot of cringing to do on a regular basis.

Jessica: We expats love our care packages from our pals back in our home countries!!

Mich: Prego, bella! Glad you enjoyed it. I am a definite believer in passalong readership!

Caroline: Benvenuta a Roma!

Sara: I know, I just felt like if I sat on the stuff I'd procrastinate... I have a bunch of material for posts that's building up but I wanted to get this up! Thanks again, had a great weekend.

Johnaesthetica said...

I use ziplocs daily, so I could easily see how they become a rare commodity overseas.

Oh, and povero toro!.

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Johna: I know! Who's looking out for the poor toro in all this madness? And, as for the ziplocs... I still find it so weird that they don't sell them here. You can get plastic bags, but they come with twist-ties. Also ridiculous considering that now all the EU airports want a RESEALABLE plastic bag... if you can't buy them in Italy and the airport isn't giving them out, um, where are you 'sposed to get one??!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Ciao Shelley, that last photo cracked me up. It brought some sunshine into another gray morning here in Los Angeles. This constant thick marine layer aka, June Gloom, is working my last nerve.

Nice trip report on Milano.

I wondered about the lack of Ziplock bags with the new travel restrictions.

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

NYC: Hey you! Glad you liked it. You know I totally thought of you when I saw that billboard!!

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Also I guess I should clarify for our dear readers that the REASON I thought of you was due to the your post I linked to in the article... ;-)

Apartments said...

the billboard was awesome lol .. great post

FinnyKnits said...

Gen-ous indeed!Sounds like a fun weekend :)

Ilaria said...

I'm glad you enjoyed my city...I'm pretty partial to it myself! :)