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The best ever Italian adventure…

There is no doubt, that you have been sitting there just waiting for this moment – the day that I finally share the best ever Italian adventure. Now, it has taken some time for me to get it together. Actually, I wrote every word in real time. Riding on trains. Waiting in lines. Contemplating in cathedrals. Noshing in restuarants. Collapsing in bed. But honestly, I needed a little down time between me and this adventure. Well, that and the fact that I totally lacked the band width to post on the move. Oh, and forgetting my blog password didn’t help, if I’m being really honest.

But now, without further ado, or excuses, I offer you Day One of the best ever Italian adventure, as it happened!

Italy Day One

The first lunch and the Last Supper

As of 10:30 pm

Nothing like a view of the Swiss Alps from above!

Nothing like a bird’s eye view of the Swiss Alps!

I’m off to meet my Daughter who has been living the high life in Europe for two months via her amazing college scholarship program. I figure that getting to meet her in Italy to travel for 9 days is my reward for all the morning sickness I had while pregnant with her. I’m doling this thing out, of course.  My plan to hopefully meet her in Spain next spring will be the reward for the stretch marks. The next trip will be for going into labor and the next for delivery and so on. Seems completely reasonable since that is how this whole scholarship possibility got started in the first place. I figure I’ll have traveled the world with her before we even get to weaning her from nursing. But seriously, she is one smart, hard working cookie and I’m lucky to get to join in on her adventures.

A balancing act of magnanimous proportions.

A balancing act of magnanimous proportions.

By the time I arrive in Milan, I’m too excited to be tired. I mean, I did just see the Swiss Alps up close and personal like from my plane window! We head out the door and begin to explore after a little lunch at a restaurant that I’m pretty sure was serving Stouffer’s meals from a microwave, but who cares? I’m looking at the Duomo!

And the Duomo. I’m only a little concerned that they allow people to walk on the roof. It is already supporting the weight of enough stone that some village somewhere is missing all of its mountains and now I’m up here? So I tell myself, “Just look. Don’t think.” Of course, that philosophy has led to all sorts of ill conceived events in the past, but I’m going for it.

And then, one of the things I came to Italy for (besides my child, duh) –

Santa Maria Delle Grazie ~ the unassuming home of the Last Supper

Santa Maria Delle Grazie ~ the unassuming home of the Last Supper

The Last Supper. It was fabulous. Bigger than I expected. More beautiful than I expected. And more moving than I expected. My daughter says that she is certain that I’ve never been more excited about seeing something in my whole life. And she just may be right. Perhaps the most iconic piece of art in all of Christianity and I’m. Standing. In. Front. Of. It.

Unequivocally thrilling. So glad I drug myself out of bed months ago at 3:45 in the morning to get tickets. And p.s. Am I the only one who, before researching it, thought it was hanging in a gilded frame behind a flocked rope in a museum somewhere rather than painted on a huge wall in a simple church? Come on, be honest.

Then we wandered; turning down whichever street looked promising. There were plenty from which to choose.  Fountains. Gelato. Parks. People. Gelato. It was perfection.
Getting fabulously lost in Milan.

Getting fabulously lost in Milan.

Now, I have a rule on vacation. It is better to sit down to eat before you get hungry. “Hangry” is a common emotion in our house and it is never pretty. Ever. So we set about finding a restaurant before the bewitching hour. After a non-stellar lunch, we were hoping for something better. Our first option sounded great and close by and they were giving 30% discount if you booked ahead on The Fork app (which is my favorite European travel app that I discovered last year in Paris) according to TripAdvisor. What could be better?

As we approached we heard the clanging of plates and the sound of friendly chatter. But when we arrived, they were closed (30% off of nothing is still a discount I presume). The dinner time banter was actually emanating from the second floor of an apartment building across the street. As I looked up smiled at them, the residents didn’t seem at all interested in feeding us. So, another swing around the block.

The reservation that wasn't. But theFork app is still my favorite European travel app!

The reservation that wasn’t.
But theFork app is still my favorite European travel app!

We found ourselves in that no man’s land between happy hour, which was going strong around us but a recipe for disaster for the potential jet lag facing me later, and the civilized dinner time of most Europeans. After resigning ourselves to a place called “OK pizza” (was there not a voice of reason in the naming process?), I gave Trip Advisor another look and came across an establishment that we had earlier discarded because it was listed as $$$, though it got rave reviews for delightful service and good food.  Delightful service can make up for mediocre food in my opinion.   And at that point I didn’t care what it cost. I was about to have two women on my hands with hangry issues, but yet who simply couldn’t bring themselves to eat at “OK pizza.” Even hunger has limits. The ethical conflict of it all.
But our dilemma was worth it once we sat down on a beautiful patio overflowing with Italian charm…and amazing food.
I had Eggplant parmesan which was as beautiful as it was tasty.  The server drizzled it with olive oil and fresh parm, “Because it is delicious!” he said and I didn’t argue. There were copious amounts of bread with olive oil that was to die for. For real, was there someone in the back pressing olives off a tree? The service was warm and energetic by the two young men who seemed to actually enjoy us being there. The tables filled up with Italians. Families and friends and even a dog (which really, Italian dogs get around and I would like to be one when I grow up). It was a sign of a good find.
At the end of our meal, a little jar of chocolates was placed on our table like it was our birthday. A business card for the restaurant was tucked into our dinner check and I asked for another as we left, which brought all sorts of excitement from the kitchen, but somehow I lost both of them along the way! I’ll keep searching and let you know.
We happily made our way back to the hotel and collapsed into bed with visions of gelato dancing in our heads. So, until tomorrow, arrivederci!

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