On Wednesday, we visited the Duomo, the castle and the Parco Sempione and drank expensive coffee while lounging in the sun on the La Rinascente roof terrace. Walking across the piazza, we had a good laugh at the guys who approached us and said, “You want a bracelet? No? You want a husband?” We went to a local restaurant for dinner and ate pizzas that barely fitted on the table. We spoke German for most of the day, which rendered me completely incapable of saying anything in Italian, and I'm sure my concierge is now convinced that I am guilty of throwing cigarette ends out of my window into the courtyard just because I stammered so much when she asked me about it.
On Thursday, we went with Mr A and his English friend to Lake Maggiore in the pouring rain. We took some hasty photographs and then ran for cover in a restaurant and ate another pizza.
Then we went back to Milan. C and I then visited the Pinacoteca di Brera, where we wondered at the number and ugliness of the paintings of the Madonna and child and despaired over our ignorance of Christian tradition. Then I introduced her to the steepness of drinks prices in Milan and the stupendousness of aperitivo hour in the Bufala Cafe, which, as the name suggests, is all about the mozzarella.
On Friday, we went to Bergamo, resisted the temptation to use the funicular railways and instead walked all the way to the Castello, where we watched planes taking off and thunderstorms rolling in over the Alps. We also visited the botanical gardens, ate pizza somewhere along the way and bought a Polenta e Osei cake to take home. Eating polenta with whole songbirds is traditional in Bergamo but the orignal dish has been replaced with cakes that look similar but are a lot more palatable.
On Friday night we went for a drink in the Navigli, then on to Le Trottoir, a bar in the middle of a roundabout that has incredibly loud live bands and where you can dance to cheesy music until 3 am.
C and I met when we were both language assistants in Compiègne and we hadn't seen each other since I visited her in Berlin in 2004, where I “improved” my German by drinking Glühwein in August because it was all her friend had in the house apart from beer, but it felt as though nothing had changed. Having her here was fun because she made me notice all the things I've been getting used to about Italy, like the grannies sitting in cafes and yelling into mobile phones and the cars being parked in the middle of the pavement. Above all though, not everything has been easy here in Milan recently and it was nice to chat about it all with an old friend and to be reminded about all the good things about living in here.