Alive! Around the World: Vienna, Austria and Milan, Italy


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Jim Roberts, Retired, LADWP, and his lovely wife, Magda, celebrated their 30th anniversary at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Jim is wearing an LADWP hat.


Letter From Italy, Pt. 2

Milan: Fashion, Food and Football

Lunch at Castello Banfi winery located south of Montalcino in one of the world’s most famous wine-producing regions, Tuscany.

Milan is, without a doubt, my favorite Italian city, from the Duomo di Milano, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, to the Villa Belgiojoso Bonaparte, a true Neoclassical wonder that will blow your mind. The city is visited by more than eight million people a year who shop, eat and visit the countless museums to view works of art like Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper or attend a football (soccer) match.

Few sports stadiums in the world can boast holding more than 80,000 spectators, so being surrounded for 90 minutes by chanting, singing fans is impressive and deafening, as Milanese fans are extremely passionate about their soccer teams, compared to the pretty sedate way sports fans in the USA cheer on their teams. The San Siro Soccer Stadium, officially named the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium, is Milan’s soccer mecca and is home to not one but two international teams, A.C. Milan and Inter Milan. A.C. Milan was founded in 1899 by two English ex-pats, and Inter Milan was founded in 1908 following a dispute with A.C. Milan for not employing foreign players.

Props for the Arena Opera in Verona.

But Milan is known for more than just soccer; there are incredible shopping and fashion establishments like the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s oldest shopping gallery that’s housed within a four-story double arcade in the town center; it’s named after Victor Emmanuel II, the first King of the Kingdom of Italy. Here you will find luxurious Italian designer boutiques and cafes, plus most major brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Bottega Veneta, Etro, Missoni, Miu Miu, Moschino, Prada, Valentino, and Versace, to name a few, or at the Quadrilatero d’Or (otherwise known as the Golden Triangle) in Zona Montenapoleone, Milan’s most expensive and prestigious shopping street alongside via Manzoni, via della Spiga, and Corso Venezia. But beware, you will need bottomless pockets to shop here! Milano Fashion Week occurs every February, and September and is a glamorous showcase promoting Italian fashion to a world audience through “sfilate” (runway shows) and designer showrooms. Unfortunately, these shows are exclusive invitation-only events, forbidden fruit reserved for industry insiders, VIPs and wealthy clients; sadly, I was not on this year’s invitation list!

Over many years of visiting Milan, I have come to the conclusion that all Italian men are fashion-conscious, with a simple dress code of keeping it smart, clean and simple, and most importantly, clothes must fit your shape perfectly. No point in having drainpipe trousers if you have a 44-inch waist.

Glass roof over the Milanos Galleria Victor Emanual.

While visiting the Galleria and feeling a little peckish, I took the elevator hidden behind its small museum up to a unique pizzeria called I Dodici Gatti (The Twelve Cats). This little gem is tucked away amongst the glass rooftop supports of the Galleria and serves the best pizza in Milan, in my opinion. Legend has it that long ago, an old lady lived near the rooftops of the Galleria and cared for a couple of black cats; when she died, the cats had 12 black kittens whose descendants protect the rooftops of the Galleria from vermin today. Believe it or not, there is a Starbucks just around the corner in Piazza Cordusio, which came to Italy in 2018 and opened up in the 2,300-square-meter (25,000 sq. ft.) historic Poste building, with everything pertaining to coffee; there is even an adult beverage bar, protected by very large security guards at the entrance.

In front of Starbucks in the Old Post Office in Milano.
My favorite adult beverage is called “A Mistake” similar to Negroni.

Very few places in Italy are more than 100 miles from the coast, so fresh seafood is readily available. Trattoria del Pescatore has to be my favorite restaurant in Milan, and it specializes exclusively in Sardinian seafood. Its Lobster Catalina is a twist on a traditional recipe of the Sardinian coastal town of Alghero (whose second language is Catalan — hence the name). This dish is to die for. At the end of the meal, offering fresh pecorino Sardo cheese and an iced shot of traditional Sardinian Mirto liquor is traditional. Delicious. Paris has champagne, Berlin has schnapps, but Milan is the capital of the aperitif, even though some say it was Turin that created this elegant form of drinking in the 1930s. Milan’s wealthy and affluent demanded more sophisticated drinks, so nightclubs and bars took up the challenge by inventing more and more concoctions. My favorite is called a “Mistake,” like Negroni, but made in a huge glass with Prosecco, gin, Campari bitter, and a touch of sweet red vermouth to coat the glass. Milan never stops experimenting. The city will have just the right adult beverage for you in gin, vodka, brandy; you name it.

It is a little-known fact that the world-famous Michelin restaurant guide lists a fifth of its entire world-starred restaurants in Milan. They are all on my bucket list.

Sempione (Simplon Gate) with its Arco della Pace (Arch of Peace) in Milano

Take the hop-on hop-off bus from the cobbled Piazza del Duomo for regular tourist stuff.

Eat, drink, and be merry whenever and wherever you can.

Esulta il capitano.