Friday, November 20, 2009

May 26, 2009 - Milan, Italy

We had not previously been to northern Italy and had been warned that, apart from the lake areas such as Maggiore, Como or Garda, the region is a none-too-exciting industrial landscape with few redeeming features. As is our wont, "Wet Paint" and similar cautionary labels always develop a fatal attraction in us and the advice simply made us the more determined to visit and check it out for ourselves.
As it turned out, the pundits were correct. Nothing worthwhile in the scenery department - just endless suburban wasteland and scads of traffic. We did accomplish our specific targets, the cities of Milan and Turin, and endured some unique camping experiences along the way.
The Citti di Milano campground, 5 miles west of downtown, was pleasant enough with flat open sites. An unusual feature however, was that it also seemed to serve as a petting zoo with small herds of goats, flocks of sheep, rabbits and tortoises roaming around, and, horror of horrors, about twenty peacocks. These latter creatures randomly emitted loud, piercing shreiks on a 24/7 basis while strutting around the sites like pompous policemen. Were we glad this was just a one night stay.

The weather remained hot and exhausting but the visit to Milan was worth the effort. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million and the urban area is the fifth largest in the EU at around 4.3 million. The entire metropolitan area, by far the largest in Italy, is estimated to be 7.4 million people.
The English word millinery, referring to women's hats, is derived from the name of the city and Milan is renowned as one of the world capitals of design and fashion vying with such places as New York, Paris, Rome and London. 
Gucci, Prada, Versace, Missoni, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Valentino, Trussardi, Luxottica and Moschino are some of the renowned companies headquartered in the city. To see some sights, click here.

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