Thursday, 9 April 2015

Mug #9 & #10 - Milan and Mantova, Italy.

I'm writing this back in London, after an amazing 5 day trip to Italy with my friends Sophia and Cristina, trying to figure out how it went so quickly. Here we are a week ago today, waiting for our flight out of Gatwick:

I am very lucky (or calculated?) to have friends from some very beautiful and interesting places. My friend Cristina is from a lovely little place just outside of Milan called Legnano and was kind enough to invite me and Sophia home with her for Easter.

Unfortunately because I'm still not very good at this whole blogging thing - although I've been doing it in one form or another for several years - and also because I'm not completely sure that they exist, I didn't manage to get my hands on a Legnano mug. In fact as you will soon find out, as much of a success the holiday was, my mug buying was a bit of a failure. Here are the mugs that I managed to buy:

Legnano is a small - around 60,000 people - and cute little town full of pretty buildings and pretty ladies. I very much enjoyed my stay but for the most part of our trip we were actually off on adventures, exploring other nearby and not so nearby towns and cities.

We landed last Thursday evening and were greeted at the airport by our wonderful and extremely hospitable hosts and tour guides, Mr and Mrs Cribiu (Cristina's lovely parents). Getting back to their delightful home we were shown to our rooms. My room had a little balcony (with these alluring views):

But before we had time to settle in, it was time for the eating to begin (something that never stopped haha). I am not exaggerating - and I am certainly not complaining - when I say that in the course of 5 days, we were (gently) forced to eat enough food to feed a small family for 6 months. The amount of food I ingested while in Italy was insane, but it was all so good that I couldn't help but enjoy every single mouthful.

On the Friday we got up early-ish and headed out for breakfast:

The plan had been to go to Milan on the Friday but Sophia hadn't been too well and so after visiting the doctor we headed up to Lake Como instead.

Lake Como wasn't exactly what I had expected. I thought it would be more green with less buildings but the lake is very big and we only saw a very small portion of it. Plus, although different to what I expected - take a look at the pictures - it was still very, very beautiful! An ideal place for a day trip. Maybe take a picnic, sit by the water, chill out, catch some rays:

Unfortunately I was too busy enjoying myself to remember to buy a mug :( so I don't have a mug from Como. But that was ok because we still had several other places to visit while we were in Italy and it's not like I have to buy a mug in every place that I visit. I only have 70 to go! So I can afford to be picky and forgetful. Not! haha

The next day we travelled 2 hours by car to the beautiful town/city of Mantova:

Mantova - like all the places that we visited - is very pretty and full of lots of lovely churches and old buildings:

The whole time I was in Italy I was literally surrounded by the most amazing art. It was everywhere. Including being painted onto every wall and ceiling:

While we were in Mantova - after having an amazing meal with the most beautiful slow cooked beef - we also somehow found time to go and see a couple of art exhibitions, including Miro:

Unfortunately I couldn't take pictures inside.

But this time I did manage to buy a mug:

And one that I really like... because it is especially tacky! :)

Then it was time for the "Big Day". Easter Sunday was upon us. And what a day it was. On the Sunday the plan was to stay home and eat. Oh boy did we eat! I wish I had taken more pictures of the food. But I was too busy eating haha and this blog is probably already too long without endless food pictures. Our Easter meal was amazing! As we sat down at the table there was already enough food to happily satisfy our appetites:

And yet this food wasn't even considered to be a starter. The dishes just kept on coming and coming. Ham, cheese, salad, asparagus "cakes", stuffed aubergines, pasta and just when we thought it was finally over - not that we wanted it to stop, the food was amazing - when our stomaches were screaming out for a rest, the main dish, the piece de resistance arrived in the form of an amazing pork and mushroom dish, that I have to get the recipe for!

The food was truly amazing and even after eating so much, we still somehow found space for some cake haha. We literally sat and ate (almost) non-stop for 5 hours! It was the biggest - and I've had some pretty big meals in the past - and also one of the best meals I have ever had! After our marathon meal there was no chance that we could have gone anywhere. Not weighed down with all that food. So we stayed in, chilled out and chatted into the early hours. I've been lucky enough to have some pretty good Easters over the years and this one was definitely up there with the best.

After a few hours sleep, it was time to get back up and get on with our exploring. On the Monday we visited Milan. I love Milan! I thought it was a very nice city. I definitely want to go back sometime soon and see it properly because of course you can't possibly see anything of a city in a single day. So fingers crossed I will get the chance to go back and stay for a little longer, see it properly, soak up it's atmosphere. Of what I did see however, it was a vibrant city full of beautiful buildings. Like this castle:

But of all the stunning architecture I saw on my trip - and there was a lot!- the Duomo Di Milano was by far the most impressive. In fact it is quite possibly the most impressive building I have seen on all of my - fairly limited - travels:

Before we left I got a chance to "break the bull's balls". It is supposed to be good luck, to put your heel on the bull's balls and spin around three times. And when in Milan:

But on the mug front, unfortunately I failed again. I had seen a couple of places where I could buy a mug early on in the day but thought that instead of carrying it around all day, it would make more sense to grab one on the way back to the car. However, I didn't relay this thought to Cristina and so we ended up back at the car before I had realised what was happening and left Milan mugless. But that was ok because they would sell Milan mugs at the airport wouldn't they?

That night we went around to Cristina's brothers flat to eat pizza - and watch several episodes of Shaun the Sheep - with her brother, his wife and their beautiful little girl.

And then all of a sudden it was our final day in Italy. On our final day - Cristina left early in the morning to get back to work - myself and Sophia were left to go out in the morning and explore Legnano a little more on our own. So we grabbed some breakfast and went in search for Parco Castello (Castle Park). The park was lovely and so was the weather. So we sat and had our breakfast by a little pond, where we saw some ducks, a squirrels and even some terrapins:

Also after a lot of searching we finally found the castle haha:

Only joking but after finally finding the castle - the real castle - we headed back to Castlello Cribiu - a little later than planned, keeping our wonderful hosts waiting. However, we were technically delayed buying them presents to say thank you for their hospitality and so hopefully they didn't mind too much - for some risotto (plus salad, ham and fruit haha). After lunch we packed our bags and feeling quite sad to leave, Mr Cribiu took us to the airport, via another lovely little town which I think was called Busto Arsizio.

At the airport we didn't have a lot of time before our flight but there was enough time to grab some food for the plane and have a look for a mug. & I found one. Although unfortunately this was the only one I could find:

Which frustratingly doesn't say Milano - or represent it properly in the images - but what are you going to do?

So a little sad to be leaving so soon and slightly annoyed at my lack of mug buying ability, we boarded our flight and flew over the alps - with these stunning views to take our breath away - and back to London:

My time in the North of Italy was an amazing none stop, whirlwind trip that I won't forget in a hurry. As for now, I am back in London and back to reality. Two mugs down but many more still to go.

ps. (belated) HAPPY EASTER!

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