Our convoluted walk during our search for the elusive Irish pubs had taken us far away from the tourist areas and we found ourselves in the heart of worker’s Milan. After a map check, we realized we didn’t need to retrace our steps to get back to the center.
Instead, we could make a big circle which would include strolling past the imposing Sforza Castle, an enormous 14th century fortress, and on to Via Dante, a wide pedestrian-only avenue lined with shops, stores, and restaurants. This street would lead us directly back to the Duomo where we had started.
We enjoyed the variety of scenes we passed along the way.
At the beginning of Via Dante, we stopped at a souvenir kiosk to buy a Ferrari
t-shirt for my car-crazy son. I slipped my hand under the plastic wrapper of one of the shirts to feel the fabric and was promptly scolded by the grumpy vendor for daring to touch. I carefully fixed the wrapper back the way it had been.
Preferring to simply walk away, I figured this would probably be my last chance to find this shirt, so I caught the man’s eye and told him I wanted to buy it.
As I handed over my money, I apologized for having opened the package and held out my hand for a conciliatory shake. He looked surprised, and to my, “Mi scusi per aver aprirlo,” he responded, “E’ stato un piacere.” And it was a pleasure for me, too, as he took my hand and kissed it.
Foreign relations repaired, Gino and I continued down Via Dante, blending into the rhythm of the evening passeggiata.
Aperitifs are common in Italy and we decided to follow tradition. Snagging a table at the edge of the human flow, we ordered drinks. They were pricey, but came with a large array of stuzzichini, happy-hour munchies: olives, breadsticks, and other yummy nibbles.
Further down, the Duomo came into view. It was delightful to see it once again without the encumbering scaffolding that had obstructed much of its beauty the trip before. Today, a mammoth structure filled the piazza directly in front of this amazing cathedral in preparation of Milan’s Fashion Week. Milano, after all, is one of the world’s capitals of high fashion. And we just happened to walk into the heart of it.