Milano duomo and castello

After a very laid back time in Riva del Garda, we hit the ground running in Milan.

Our apartment was a 15 minute walk from the regional train station where we caught a train into the Milano Cardona station where we could transfer to the metro lines. The first morning we were there, we decided to front pack our little people and head to the Duomo.

I was glad we did use the front-pack when we got to our metro train — it was absolutely packed with people. I was surprised given that it was after 10am in the morning. But it all became much clearer when we reached the piazza outside the Duomo. It turned out that there was a Milan versus Austrian football match that evening, so seas of green-clad Austrians were busy wandering around the central square.

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After a coffee and croissant, and Thea chasing the pigeons of course, we headed to the ticket office for the Duomo. Last time we were in Milan the Duomo had been closed for renovations, but today it was open and after a 30 minute wait to get our tickets, a breast feed and a toilet stop, we bravely headed up the stairs to the roof. They do have a lift but it costs an extra €8, so we figured we could handle the walk even with an 11kg baby and a 14kg toddler on our fronts. Turns out the walk up isn’t too bad and the views over Milan and of the beautiful statues and architecture at the top are definitely worth it.

Evie missed most of it as she was asleep again in the front pack, but Thea enjoyed wandering up and down the roof tiles. We chatted to a couple of guys from Austria who had driven down from Vienna the previous night at about 10pm and were waiting to see the soccer game that night. They were very surprised to hear that we were from New Zealand and had brought our two girls on a 26 hour non-stop flight. It was also their recommendation that we go to Vienna when we are next in Austria as it is the best place, apparently.

We wandered around on the roof for a while to get Evie into a deeper sleep and to enjoy the view. Then Craig and I were both surprised when Thea insisted on climbing down the stairs herself. We didn’t think she’d make it the whole way but she did!

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We were pretty hungry from our hike to the top and back down. But we thought it was best to see inside the duomo while Evie was still asleep. It is absolutely huge and ornately decorated in stained glass.

Hunger got the better of us though, so we headed to a nearby pizzeria named Spontini’s. It was a Subway style place where you place your order, pay and then collect it once all the toppings are added. We found it fascinating as they only cooked the basic margherita pizza (cheese, tomato sauce, herbs) and then added cold toppings such as mushrooms and proscuitto. Personally I preferred the margherita pizza without the cold toppings. Thea and Evie also both enjoyed getting their hands on the pizzas.

Just to top off our unhealthy day, we had gelato on our way to the train station. I was intrigued to try the purple fragola (strawberry) gelato, it turned out to be grape flavoured and super delicious. Pistachio gelato was also a big win, and Thea enjoyed her Mango and am arena cherry gelato cone too. Well earned too after such a lot of exercise. A couple more train rides home, before it was dinner time! I decided to make my take on a caprese salad to get us all so much needed vitamin C.

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Everyone slept pretty well that night after our big adventure.

The next morning we decided to head into Castello Stefano via the train. Both girls went into their front packs and off we strode. By the time we reached Milano Cardorna again we’d realised that we only had to take one train today as the castle was only a 10 minute walk from the station.

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Brief cuddle stop on the way to the train

As luck would have it, there was also a cafe/bistrot named Pattis next to the exit to the station. I was very excited when I discovered they had pistachio cream croissants, yes it is as good as it sounds! Coffee is always the first order of business for any traveler but especially a parent traveller.

I’d been doing some research the night before on traditional Italian barbers, as Craig has also expressed a desire to have a “real shave” from a barber. I found a very highly regarded barber shop named Barberinos a few streets down from the castello, so we decided to go and see if they had an appointment for Craig. His beard and hair were getting a bit out of control!

They did have an appointment! So the girls and I left Craig to it for the first half an hour. We wandered down the road a bit further and discovered Milan’s archaeological museum. Thea was fascinated by the wooden replica of the city when it was first built. I was also equally fascinated to learn that Milan had originally been a walled city. As part of the museum you can also see a portion of the wall and octagonal watch tower that is over 800 years old. Thea was very intrigued to wander around in it with me.

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We received a text from Craig saying he thought it would be cool if we could come and see the barber in action and get some photographs for him. So we walked back to the barbers. Thankfully they had a few seats where the girls and I could watch in fascination as the barber cut Craig’s hair and beard with practised finesse.

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Watching as the barber cuts Craig’s hair

Craig came out looking extremely well groomed and Italian by the end.

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Evie admires her Dad’s new hair cut

We decided it was time to head to the castello finally. In Milan you can purchase a 3 day museum card for 12 euro which gives you access to a range of museums, the castle and archaeological museum being 2 of them. While Craig got Evie to sleep in the front pack, Thea and I enjoyed wandering around the historical musical instruments section of the castle’s collection.

We carefully avoided the gypsies on our way out of the castle and past the fountain. Italy is one country where you can become bombarded by them trying to sell you their wares. They can also use quite aggressive tactics like implying something is free and giving it to you before demanding payment. I was a bit concerned what might happen with our 2 wee ones so we steered well clear.

Pizza was on the menu for lunch again as we had been so deprived in Riva del Garda so we returned to Pattis for lunch. The lovely waitress there let us sit in the restaurant portion even though we had self service food. She also gave Thea a free chocolate cannoli and Craig and I a sugary biscuit.

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After eating our fill of pizza, Craig’s feet were pretty tired so we decided to get back on the train.

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I wanted to go to the mall close to our apartment and the train line. Evie seems to be growing at a ridiculous rate so some new tops were needed to go under her merinos to cover her tummy when they ride up as they don’t have clips at the bottom. I also managed to get an Italian sim card so I have data on my phone again, yay!

We collapsed on the couch in our apartment when we arrived home. All four of us were pretty exhausted after our last few days of city exploration and adventures.

Tomorrow we are heading for Cervinia and the Matterhorn for more snow adventures. A car day might be good tonic for sore feet!

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