Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A night at the opera

This happened a week ago but I didn't get around to tell you about it until now. We had a stopover night in Milan. We arrived by train from Cannes in the afternoon. It was very hot. We had a perfect plate of pasta at one of the cafés across the main square of the Duomo. We walked inside the Vittorio Emmanuele gallery, which is lovely. We had fantastic gelato. Ice cream stores in Italy sell cocktails too, or at least this one did. It was a splendid café. These people take their food seriously, even if it's ice cream or particularly if it is ice cream. Then we walked in the heat. Contrary to our fears, many big stores were open. We had a fabulous iced cappuccino at a little café on a small piazza next to a church. The best iced coffee I've ever had in my entire life. Then we strolled around the beautiful streets that house all the luxury Italian designers. Gorgeous clothes, they were already showing the fall collections. It must have been 98 in the shad and all you could see in the stores were cashmeres and heavy wools and leather. Then went to a beautiful park where dogs were allowed to roam and play like crazy, not enclosed, not on a leash, not so many rules like we have here, and we lied on the grass and took a deep and restful nap. Then we went to La Scala, thinking we were buying tickets for La Traviata, but since we did not know what day it was (blame it on the Gutter Bar) we got tickets to Daniel Barenboim playing Beethoven sonatas instead (the opera was the next day). Which in fact, was what the doctor ordered, calm and quiet and better suited for reflection.
Milanese music lovers still dress up for the theater. We looked like schleppers. Still, it was awesome to sit in one of the boxes that is right on the side of the stage. I can't get over the fact that the floor of our box was made of terracotta. We sat on deeply cushioned stools that were far more comfortable than I expected. The walls are cushioned too, so these cheap seats can be comfy too. Because it is not such a big hall, everybody looks at everybody else. I felt like in one of those movies where ladies fan themselves and look at somebody's mistress with an eyeglass.
When the concert was over we crossed the galleria V.E. and lo and behold, a giant screen next to the Duomo was broadcasting the Italy-Spain soccer game and hundreds, if not thousands, of Milanese fans were screaming their exasperation at the bumbling Italian team, who was busy defending itself from the relentless attack of their foes. The game was decided on penalties. Spain won (luckily for us, as this guaranteed us a good night's sleep). It was so cool to go from La Scala to the soccer at the Duomo on the same night. We got like a concentrated, espresso, visit to Italy.
And I really like Milan. It is a real city, not a beautiful tourist trap.

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