Walking in Circles

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.

Motorini wait for their owners to be done with work

The Basilica di San Lorenzo -- its 16th century renovation maintains the original Byzantine architectural style, reminiscent of the Hagia Sofia of Constantinople


Several people were just hanging out in the Colonne di San Lorenzo, a piazza that faces the Basilica. Dating from the 3rd century A.D., these columns are some of the few remains of the Roman Mediolanum. Thought to once be a part of a large system of baths built by Emporer Maximian, they were relocated to their present location.

At the time we passed this gorgeous church, we had no idea it was the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie which houses Da Vinci's famous painting: The Last Supper. People go here just to see the painting, not paying much attention to the building that houses it, even though it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A small glimpse of the 14th century Castello Sforzesco,
a well-known and much loved monument of Milano.

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.

Stuzzichini and drinks at the edge of Via Dante

Gino, content with a Mojito instead of a Guinness.
Happy 250th Anniversary, Arthur!

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.

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