Our arrival in Milan on Monday July 29, 2002 - at the Hotel San Francisco on Via Lombardia, to be exact - was a great relief. (See central Milan map; our walking routes are in purple - dashed is our subway ride on the "pink" line.) The major portion of Tuesday was spent at a high quality chemical manufacturing facility where only 1 photo - of us - was taken. The location of the relatively few other pictures taken are marked on the map in purple.
We spent two nights at a small but comfortable in-town hotel (Hotel San Francisco on Via Lombardia) that served a continental breakfast as part of the comparatively reasonable rate.
We enjoyed the convenience of its location and the feel of an old European city. This was practically the eve of the traditional Italian August vacation, and the city was relatively quiet we were told.
Space is precious is old cities like Milan; most cars are small and parking is both on the streets and diagonally on the wider sidewalks. Sometimes double parking on the sidewalk is seen. The entry to sidewalk parking is by means a special sidewalk driveway and then driving on the sidewalk so that slow maneuvering cars are out of the traffic.
We enjoyed a delicious nutritious well-served meal at the Ristorante Baia Chia on Via Bazzini on the evening we arrived. On our next visit to Milan, this small but definitely popular establishment with locals, will be on our repeat list. (More about eating in Milan and other places on our trip.)
One of the highlights of our whole European trip was a visit to a major chemical manufacturing firm, headquartered in Milan. This hadn't been part of our original trip plans although they had always included Milan. But only 10 days before leaving, we suddenly realized the company with which we had been corresponding was located right where we planned to be! We quickly asked if we could visit, and a with a warm reception the arrangement was made. It turned out to be a very worthwhile alteration of trip plans. We didn't take any photos of the facility but the Head of Development who gave us a grand tour, took our picture before we left next to the sign that had alerted all employees to our visit.
After a short rest and some lunch we were off to tour a few of the tourist attractions in the very heart of the city. We rode the subway to within a few stops of the center and then walked first to see the Castello Sporezesco.
Many of the interior rooms were filled with exhibits of various forms of art dating back over 1000 years, but flash camera usage was not allowed.
The castle above satisfied our interest in museums; we enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the adjacent park (much of which was in various stages of maintenance) towards Piazza Sempione. The main monument there also could only be approached but not entered because it was being cleaned and restored.
Once we reached this point, a break was in order to determine how best to make our way back to Hotel San Francisco. Paul studied the map at the north end of the monument in the Piazza Sempione.
We followed the route shown on central Milan map towards and through the Giardini Pubblici (public park). As we reached the western corner, rain started to fall heavily, forcing us to take cover - along with several others - under a large tree. (We'd not thought to bring an umbrella on a bright sunny early afternoon :) After about 20 minutes, as the rain continued but water began to penetrate the protection of the leaves, we ran across the street to a subway entrance. From there we walked underground "across" the intersection and out again taking refuge under an awning as we waited for the rain to finally slow to a drizzle.
The rest of the walk back to the hotel was done quickly, dodging puddles and taking small detours around construction sites. We were getting hungry and tired - it had been a long day.
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