One of the reasons I love Milan is that it is a true Italian city, built entirely for local people, not catering for tourists any more than anyone else. Indeed there are few tourists, but many foreign business people. This makes a far better environment, where our experience in some places is that the local people get over dosed on tourists. Here you see local life as it really is.
On the subway, it was common for someone to stand right in front of you, look right past you to their reflection in the window behind, as they adjust their hair or make up. I saw jandals here like you have never seen, adorned with Swarovski crystal, Armani everything! However, I did feel right at home with three days of beard growth. It is all a part of the look.
In the course of doing business in Milan, we met some more charming people, whose love for things authentically Italian matched our own. We developed some great new ideas for our business and are looking forward to seeing how they develop.
Of our entire trip this time we had the richest experience in Milan. Our dear friends in Milan advised us to not make any plans for Sunday - we were in their hands. For lunch, we headed up the autostrada to Lake Varese, where we were due to have lunch at a lakeside restaurant. Sounded fantastic. I was advised to take my camera - very promising! Our hosts had not been there before either and when we arrived at the small lakeside village and parked the car, we strolled down to the lakeside, passing a manger with a distinctly rural odour. As we reached the lakeside, there was no restaurant, just a rickety wooden jetty. As we stood around there wondering what now, we began to soak up this beautiful place. Not a breath of wind, sun, calm lake with an island, lovely villas up on the hill side, villages on the far shore, an old launch chugging across the calm water. That launch headed straight for us and the navigator soon called out a cheery greeting to us before easing the vessel up against the old jetty without tying it up. Our friends all got on board with some trepidation as none had expected a boat ride. High heels on the rickety jetty then required assistance boarding the launch, complete with sun glasses (piu sexy!). The launch returned to the island where the lakeside restaurant was nestled by the shore surrounded by lovely mature trees. What a setting! As we approached we could make out other diners seated outside under a porch, right by the water. Molto tranquillo! As we disembarked and walked up the restaurant jetty, the first thing we noticed was a vessel clearly used in wedding ceremonies. Ok, aspects of that probably top a wedding on the Waitemata Harbour on a schooner.
We then settled in to a lovely Italian five course lunch, frequently gazing around at the amazing setting, watching gliders lazily landing at an airport on the other side of the lake and families lazily cruising around the lake in small craft of all kinds. After lunch we took a "passeggiata" around the island with some time to just enjoy the tranquil setting, before the trip back to the mainland.
Our next destination was what we would call a "camp" or retreat centre not far from the restaurant, that Fabio and Silvana have been supporting for years. It was an amazing place, with acres of land dotted with fruit trees of all kinds and about 6 buildings. We had a very memorable time walking all around the property, seeing all the facilities and enjoying the beautiful views of the lake below. We spent some time picking some beautiful grapes from a very old vine that Fabio and his friends had discovered about a year ago. They had pruned it back hard and the result was a bountiful harvest of grapes. It was such a shame to leave so many lovely bunches still on the vine, but we had to move on. Ferrari had won at Monza that day (just down the road from where we were) so traffic on the autostrada was going to be heavy.
Our next destination was the home of the other friends who had been with us, Anna and Mario. Despite our protestations about just having enjoyed a five course lunch, Anna insisted on us enjoying her fabulous antipasto, pasta and of course some of the lovely grapes we had just picked for 'dolce'.
We had swapped cars from Fabio's fabulous Citroen to Silvana's brand new sporty Citroen. Both great cars and a pleasure to be taken around Milan in them.
We returned to our room that night tired, but having enjoyed our best day in Italy this trip.