Another Day in Milan

by mutteringhousewife

I’m understanding a lot more Italian. I can even string a sentence together, but it usually takes me about ten minutes, so not great for conversation. Io ascolto ma non parlo. I actually managed to get that one out, I rather expected a round of applause, but let’s face it, every Italian’s English is better than that. What it does mean is that I can at least translate for the benefit of my family. “Why haven’t you put out enough chairs? How many are there? Seven! No, not seven, eight! Eight! I’ll count them, one two three four five six seven eight! See! Where’s another chair? Where should you sit? No, not there, over there, you’re not doing anything!”. There’s a lot of exclamation marks and a lot of hand waving and we get there in the end.

My husbands family have been very kind and escort us around their home town, a beautiful city chockers with churches and sculptures and beautiful apartment buildings. We walked past evidence today of the perils of trying to build anything here.

You can’t dig so much as a hole for a pot plant without turning up some Roman ruins. Apparently this turned out to be part of the Imperial compound back in the day when Milan was a big cheese in the Roman world, between the 200s and the 400s AD. Back in San Ambrogio’s time. Remember him? The dead guy in the glass case? Good times.

We start the day with a coffee. In Giorgio’s case, a fag and a coffee and a fag, everyone smokes here, but not inside, so that’s nicer than Austria.

The coffee shops are tiny and exquisite and just like all the tourist guides say, you stand up for your shot. I need to take a photo with a Travelling David Tennant for comparison. Next time. The kids have been loving the freshly squeezed orange juice that all the cafés knock out. Our apartment even has an orange juicer. Not a toaster or a kettle, though.

And if you ask for a cappuccino after about ten o’clock in the morning, like my dear husband did, aspersions are cast on your sexuality. At least the coffee definitions are similar to Australia, I recognised the macchiato, unlike the giant mug of milk I got in Munich.

Then, as you do, you pop in for a squiz at The Last Supper. Actually, Isabella booked for us, they shuffle you through in groups of about thirty. You’re not supposed to take pictures, it’s famous enough to Google. Take note of the doorway the friars knocked through Jesus’s feet. The masterpiece is sadly faded, but incredibly impressive, especially compared to the picture by the poor sucker who got to paint the other end of the room. I did sneak a pic of that.

The Duke of Milan, who commissioned both works, got himself photo bombed into that painting, so he looks as though he was at The Crucifixion. Lucky he didn’t try to pull that one on Leonardo. The Horror got personally shushed twice, they didn’t want his piercing voice to shake the fragile plaster off the wall. He was making pertinent comments, I should add.

Later in the afternoon we had a demonstration of Italian driving, which apparently by national standards was very cautious. We were actually going to see the lake which, even in the rain, was very picturesque.

“Shouldn’t that guy have given way to you?” asked the husband. “In Italy the rules, they are more like approximations” Giorgio answered, swerving around a pedestrian who was foolishly trying to cross at a pedestrian crossing, as the Moose giggled nervously in the back seat. Later we saw some fine examples of double parking, parking on the median strip, leaving your car wherever you stop, really. Outside our apartment it is normal to park on the pavement, which means you have to get out by driving along the pavement.

Which means you have to look both ways before stepping out of your front door. I’m starting to have second thoughts about the advisability of driving around Tuscany.