Last weekend, I went on a short trip to Milan. I’d made it to the city once before, on a work trip with an ex-boyfriend. It was an overnight stay, which went something along the lines of – plane, taxi, coach, taxi, a strange scooter that takes you from one part of the venue to another, taxi, plane – which as you can imagine, didn’t enable me to see much of what Milan has to offer. This time, I went with my boyfriend and his family, which proved to be a much more relaxing experience.
This time, we flew in on the smallest plane I’ve ever been on, which proved to be an agonising experience for the nervous flyer that I am. Nothing makes you want to land faster than being on a tiny plane in turbulence. But eventually, we got to Linate and I lept off the plane, carry-on suitcase in hand and all too ready to be on solid ground again. Then we left the airport and promptly sought out some gelato, which made me feel a bit better.
And can I just say – Milan is beautiful. If this is what the “industrial” Italian city looks like, then I can’t wait to see the more ornate ones. The Piazza del Duomo has the most beautiful cathedral I’ve maybe ever seen, and I couldn’t stop staring at the ceiling of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The architecture here is stunning.
We stayed in an apartment just above Sempione Park, on a high floor with great views of the city but quite exhausting if you’re not a fan of stairs. I love the way that European cities are laid out, with independent grocery stores and pharmacies on every street and floors on floors of apartments sitting above them. I noticed a similar structure in Paris and Barcelona too. London’s accommodation is a lot less practical and romantic, with homes built here there and everywhere, all leading towards a high street filled with chain restaurants and the occasional independent business. The European structure is a lot nicer, trust me.
I won’t lie, I was pretty worried about my first trip away since going gluten-free. I’ve always been the person who goes along with things and hates being fussy in restaurants, and knowing that not only do I find it awkward in the presence of my friends, but I was going to have to be picky in front of my boyfriend’s family too, was not sitting well with me. However, it turns out that Italians cater to gluten intolerances so well. Every restaurant we went to had a gluten-free option, and I don’t just mean a piece of fish with some broccoli – actual pasta and pizza made with alternative flour. I could order freely, senza glutine. It was a dream.
Can we just talk about Aperativo for a second? Italians go for a drink and some small bites after work or before dinner, and often you buy your drink and the food is complimentary. One night I had an Aperol Spritz and then a plate with olives, some frittata and salted crisps – I was able to pace myself at dinner, and also make sure I wasn’t drinking on an empty stomach. Furthermore, it was only seven euros. Can we start a petition to get the British onto this?
We also made the trek to the other side of the city to GluFree, a gluten-free bakery, so I could pick up a croissant and join in with the family breakfast. It was the first croissant I’d eaten in four months – and as an avid croissant enthusiast, I can’t tell you how excited I was. It tasted kind of like a brioche, which wasn’t what I was expecting, but regardless, I was thrilled to be putting some actual fresh dough in my mouth for the first time in months.
Restaurant highlights include a pizza place called Capuano’s which had the best pizza base I’ve tried so far on my gluten-free journey. I think I had ham, olives and artichoke on mine – all the salty goodness. The others also vouched that their pizza was delicious too.
Milan On Film
Another exciting part of our trip was that for the first time maybe ever, I shot a roll of film on a real camera (read: not disposable.) Whilst absolutely glorious and something I will definitely do again, as with every new hobby, there were a couple of hiccups. Firstly, I loaded some Velvia FujiChrome film into the camera I borrowed from my housemate Ollie. FYI, that’s fifteen pounds worth of film that was not meant to be used in a point and shoot. I Apparently it’s best for long exposure landscape photography as it’s ISO 50, but alas, I just dug out whatever I could find of the expired film my dad gave me and optimistically popped it in. And as you can imagine, the film didn’t come out great. The prints were… very, very green, and needed a lot of correcting to get them close to normal colours. Though saying this, they did turn out a lot better than I was expecting, especially considering the look the guy who developed them gave me when I handed over the cannister. This time around, I’ve settled for some relatively safe Kodak ColourPlus 200 film in the Olympus AF-10, so fingers crossed those ones turn out a little better.
And as quickly as we arrived, we left again, and I endured another journey on the smallest plane in existence. If you’re thinking about going to Milan, I’d definitely recommend it. It’s beautiful, the flights are affordable and it’s got enough to do to fill a weekend’s worth of time. It’s not quite the love affair standard I have with Berlin, but it’s pretty close.