May 18 - Bucharest To Ravenna
We had car service form the Radisson Blu in Bucharest to the airport. Wizz Air got us to Bologna. A bus got us to the train station. TrenItalia got us to Ravenna. We stayed at the NH Ravenna Hotel. Dinner was at Al 45. Ann had pasta with broccoli while I had granfrito misto with shrimp, calamari, zucchini, etc. No photos today because of traveling.
May 19 - Ravenna
This was a repeat of my visit to Ravenna two years ago. After I left, I promised to bring Ann here to see the fantastic mosaics. Please go to my June 9, 2012 journal to see that visit.
These are the destinations that we visited on this trip: Arian Baptistry, Basilica of San Vitale, Galla Placidia, Neonian Baptistry, Archiepiscopal Museum, and Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo. All of the mosaics were breathtaking.
It was very pleasant strolling through the city. The skies were slightly overcast and the temperature hovered between the high 60s and low 70s. This was in stark contrast from my last visit where it was in the high 90s. The crowds were small consisting of a few tourists groups and school groups. School kids in Italy are still shown cultural and religious sites.
Our lunch was in the self-service cafeteria in the Mercato Coperto. Pasta was our choice. Ann had gnocchi whle I had spaghetti.
We finished our mosaic tour by mid-afternoon and then hung out at our hotel until dinner time. I seem to stumble on my favorite meals of our trip in Italy when visiting small towns. Tonight was no exception. We ate at Osteria Piattoforte which was just up the street from our hotel. Along with our bottle of vino bianco, Ann had lamb chops and timboli with eggplant while I had two kinds of grilled fish with Sicialian grilled vegetables. Our dessert was millefleurs with custard, strawberries and raspberries in a raspberry sauce. Yum.
May 20 - Ravenna To Milan
We were up early this morning to make sure we were ready for our 10:00 train. We caught the local train to Bologna which took an hour making several stops. At the Bologna station, I had a sandwich at a nearby cafe. After that we followed signs to our platform. They led us to a new section of the station which is several levels underground. This section looks more like an airport with nice benches to sit on and no-smoking signs all over. Hopefully, the old seedy station will be torn down and travelers can have more comfort and services.
Our train to Milan was a fast one. We sat in the Business Quiet section in comfortable adjustable leather seats with plugs to charge our appliances so we could use the train's free wifi. When I looked out our window it seemed that we were going pretty fast. I turned on my GPS and it told me that our speed was just under 200 mph.
We arrived in Milan before 2:00. We checked into Hotel Florida and immediately went down the street to a small trattoria so Ann could have some lunch that she missed in Bologna. Risotto and salad for her. I decided to snack on pasta with a smoked salmon sauce.
We went back to the hotel to plan our next day's touring route. We didn't get far so we decided to go back to the train station and look for the tourist information office. It was hidden. After trekking through all of the floors of the station - and it is a very large station - we found the office. It was closed for the day. Then we walked around the outside of the station to find the stop for the Hop On Hop Off bus. No luck with that either. So we went back to the hotel where I got onto the internet and found that we could get day passes for the metro system for lots less money. We will be going underground early tomorrow.
Dinner tonight was at pizza restaurant that I found with Trip Advisor. Ann had Napolitan - mozzarella, anchovies and tomatoes. I had frutti de mare - calamari, octopus, shrimp, mussels, clams, etc. We chased them down with beer. We were lucky to get a table at 7:30. The restaurant filled up quickly soon after we were seated. Tables were packed closely together. The men sitting next to us had a loud conversation which we couldn't understand.
Photos and the slideshow for Milan are from my trip two years ago. I decided to relax on this visit and not worry about taking the best photos.
As an aside, we turned on the TV yesterday and saw that there were floods in the Balkans. We fortunately missed them but we feel sorry for the locals that were affected.
May 21 - Milan
Ann and I had the buffet breakfast in the tiny room in the basement of our hotel. No eggs, but plenty of corn flakes, bread and coffee. After our meal we set off on our tour. We decided to get one-day metro passes and follow a tour that I downloaded onto my iPhone. Metro took us under the city from the central train station to a station at the Duomo. We went inside the Duomo and saw the beautiful stained glass windows, some crypts, several crusifixes, huge pillars and all of the other things that are normal in a Catholic Cathedral. To take photos, a permit is required. This is new from two years ago. I chuckled at the poor church girl who had to keep telling Japanese tourists to stop taking photos. The language barrier was frustrating for her.
The next site that we saw was the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the first shopping mall in the world. Then we walked to Teatro alla Scala. Our first museum was Museo Poldi Pezzoli where we looked at Northern Italian and Netherlands/Flemish paintings as well as collections of decorative art including textile, porcelain, glasses, jewelry and metal works. These items were collected by the Pezzoli family who Ann claimed had too much money.
We then strolled along a couple of narrow streets which were lined by fashion shops. We could have been outfitted in clothes and shoes which would have cost a lot more than what we paid for our trip. Speaking of fashion, I have seen lots of Italian businessmen dressed in dark brown patterned suit jackets with jeans that look like they were worn while weeding the garden. Is this fashion?
We found the huge Giardini Pubblici (public garden) where we stopped for panini and to watch the dogs playing in the dog park.
Walking on, we found our way to the Pinacoteca di Brera. This is another famous art museum. I was getting a little tired of going to art museums especially ones with 40 rooms. So I was relieved when the ticket office was closed for a couple of hours because of a labor meeting. Instead, we walked into the first floor of the building which is the university of art. Ann spotted a sign for the library so we walked up the stairs and saw several beautiful dark paneled rooms with hundreds of old books on the shelves. One room was partially dedicated to an old-fashioned card catalog. I liked this better than the museum.
Our next stroll was down a street with several enticing restaurants. We ended our walk at Castello Sforzesco. With tired legs and bruised feet (lots of cobble stones) we got on Metro and rode back to the hotel.
We interrupted our afternoon downtime by getting some gelato at a highly rated gelateria next to the train station. My licorice and creme was really good. Ann said that her hazelnut and coconut was also good. We learned that this gelateria makes its own gelato. The ice cream has strong rich flavors. The young man running the gelatoria was very chatty and told ud about the time that he was in the Bay Area.
Dinner tonight was at Trattoria del Corso which is located in the old part of town near the castle. We took Metro. Our dinner started with burrata which is a cheese much like mozzarella - hard on the outside and soft in the inside. It had a warm tomato sauce. Ann had beef with rosemary and a balsamic vinegar reduction. I had pork loin with a strawberry sauce which included fresh strawberries. Our portions were huge but the meat was a little over cooked. When we paid our bill, we had complimentary shots of limoncello, grappa or a berry cordial from Sardinia.
After a short walk to settle our meal, we took Metro back to the hotel.
May 22 - Milan To Turin
We were on another fast train today between Milan and Turin. It took one hour. Our hotel, the Best Western Genio was across the street from the train station making it very easy to find and to tow our luggage. We checked in at the hotel and walked down the street to an ATM and to lunch in an Italian pub. I had tagliatelle with a Bolognese sauce while Ann had a Niçoise salad. An Irish ale for me and white wine for Ann.
We walked back to the train station to see what transportation would be available to get Ann to the airport tomorrow morning. There is an airport bus that runs every 15 minutes. Rather than having a possible hassle with morning buses, we decided that she would take a taxi instead. Besides, we couldn't find the bus stop and it had started to rain.
Back at the hotel, we found my BAC ride leaders and some of the riders on my upcoming bicycle tour of Piedmont.
We went to an early dinner at a forgettable restaurant. Ann's crepe was OK. My veal scallopini was tough and tasteless. The wine made up for it.