Being a Tourist in Milano
I've been to Milano more times than I can remember, yet I have never really ventured beyond the confines of my daily routine. So on this occasion of my last visit, during Fashion Week, I decided to play tourist. It had been a lovely late September autumn all that week, and happenstance mistakenly booked my departure to leave on Sunday. So I had an entire Saturday to myself.
Obviously, I don't like being alone.
I've never particularly liked Milano as an "Italian" city. To me, she always felt anticlimactic, compared to the ruins of Roma, the canals of Venezia, and the narrow streets of Firenze. All I ever see around where I stay, at the Hotel Gallia, are the telltale signs of modernity and progress, which I can get in New York or Hong Kong.
Admittedly, I know that there is more to Milano than just cold steel and glass concrete blocks, so I know I'm wrong to feel this way about the city. It's just I've never had the opportunity to explore after work is done, given that I've never had the time... at least, not until now.
I had invited Vera to come along with me. She too had just recently come to Milano, and had been too busy to see the sites. I've been told that Milano is much more than just the commercial hub the city presents herself to be. I'm just glad that I won't be doing this on my own.
I had hired a car from the hotel - a Maserati Quattroporte, no less - to chauffeur us the entire afternoon. The sun was warm, and the afternoon light wasn't overly harsh. It was the perfect day for an outing.
We started at Via Montenapoleone - the fashion heartbeat of the city. With this being Fashion Week, the beautiful people of the world have descended upon its shops in search of the latest look. However, I wasn't interested in that. I had to stop by Café Marchesi to pick up some of it's famous chocolate to bring back with me.
It was a zoo on the street, with many brightly colored folks, decked out to see and be seen. I had hoped to get a couple of interesting photos of Vera on Montenapoleone, but the crowds were just too much of an eyesore to me. So we ducked into the smaller side streets, to seek refuge from the streams of mostly visitors with their satchels of goodies.
It was hopeless on Montenapoleone, so we then decided to go to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and the Duomo - another tourist hotspot. Both Vera and I have been there before, but I wanted to get a photograph of her from a different perspective. Much of the beauty of both Vittorio Emanuele and the Duomo is above us. So it made sense to capture that instead of the usual eye level perspective.
Afterwards, we decided to go to Sforza Castle. Both Vera and I have never been there before. It's a medieval fortress that houses art treasure, according to Google. But I must admit that I wasn't in the mood to take a look inside. It was too lovely a day to not be outside. And surprisingly, there weren't any crowds around on that particular afternoon. Perhaps it was getting late in the day. But it made it easier to take a couple of keepsake photographs for Vera, on her journey.
Then we ventured off to the Brera district of Milano. Both Vera and I had never heard of it, let alone been there. It was recommended to us by Alfredo, our driver for the day. He said that the area is like the Montmatre of Milano - without the hill and the sacred heart at the top of it. All the same, it was a lovely place, far from the tourist hustle and bustle (or at least it was at the time of our visit). The light was beginning to fade from it's afternoon intensity, as we made our way through the narrow cobblestone streets, lined with little shops, bars, and restaurants.
By now, it was beginning to get late. Still, we had some time to venture off to one last site. We decided on the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio. We had never heard of it, and only found it on the fourth page of Google recommendations. However, Alfredo informed us that Saint Ambrose, the namesake of this church, was the patron saint of Milano. It sounded very auspicious to me. I have to say that it was probably the favorite place I visited that day. It was almost empty by the time we got there, nearing 6PM.
It was such a fun afternoon. And Milano is much more than meets the eye. It's definitely more than just a modern Italian city. It has a great deal of history tucked away inside the narrow streets of the old city. I have to say it's the first time I found Milano to be a scenic place. I had a wonderful time, and I'm happy to share this with you.
All images photographed on a Leica SL adapted with a Leica 28mm f/1.4 Summilux. Most images are stopped down, with the last two shot wide open inside the church. The 28 Lux really is the best tourist lens around! All images have been optimized in Lightroom. I think a half dozen images have been cropped for better framing.
Special thanks to Vera for joining me as my tourist pal for the day.
This type of writeup is new for my blog. From time to time, I will post narratives on my site. Not everything has to be a review or an insight. After all, the purpose of photography is to take pictures. And that's exactly what I'm doing here.