March 8, 2016

6 Miracles in Milano

Whether you believe in actual miracles, happy coincidences, or good luck, it's all the same. Milan is an incredible city. I loved my four days there, wandering in and out of churches, walking down as many alleys as I could find, and realizing that Milan is yet another wonderful place I could really live.

During my rainy weekend, there were six moments when what I was looking at or experiencing was absolutely miraculous.

1. The Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci may not be a deity, but I could feel his presence inside the Santa Maria delle Grazie. Where the Mona Lisa may fail to impress in Paris' Louvre, The Last Supper will absolutely blow you away. It is imperative that you reserve a ticket in advance; I booked my online ticket over three weeks before my trip, and I barely made the cut with only two tickets left during the whole weekend I would be there! The painting itself was deteriorating only twenty years after it was finished at the end of the 15th century. After many failed restoration attempts, a vandalizing French army, and the building being bombed during World War II, it's a miracle that The Last Supper has survived to be seen.

2. Signore Ruffini at his Ruffini Cartolibreria

Just down the road, a kind white-haired man stands behind a counter filled with journals, notebooks, and all kinds of beautiful stationery. Signore Ruffini's store smells like an antique library, and I wish I could have sat on a sofa with a cup of tea in there for hours. When the Santa Maria delle Grazie was bombed, all of the glass encased cupboards along the walls shattered, leaving the book shop in ruins. This gem of a store has been in Signore Ruffini's family for over 150 years. The postcards are the right price, and the hand-made stationery collection is every writer's paper dream come true.

3. Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore

It's a miracle I even went into this church; I just happened to have extra time before my ticket appointment to view The Last Supper. I went through the unassuming door and had to sit down from the surprise. It was like the shock of the Sagrada Familia and the interior of the Habo Kyrka combined. It is exactly like being thrown into a Bible picture book. Every inch of the place is painted with some wonderful scene, my favorite being the wall of Noah's Ark, complete with a pair of unicorns prancing into the boat!

I've been in a lot of churches around the world, and I can honestly say that San Maurizio has the most inspiring interior out of all of them. Even if you're not a spiritual person, it is a really cool experience to walk inside of a life-size picture book!

4. Panzerotti Luini & Cioccolati Italiani

I can't post a blog about miracles in Italy without including a little bit of the food! Luini's is basically the Italian perfection of the Hot Pocket. It's super cheap street food just one street behind the Duomo. Normally, the lines are down the street for this mozzarella infused pastry, but I went at 11:00 a.m., and walked straight up to the counter to order. After finishing the melt-in-my-mouth panzerotti, I walked across the lane to Cioccolati Italiani for the best gelato I've ever had.

The fresh meringue on top really beat out any whipped cream texture and taste. I ate all of the dark chocolate and strawberry gelato, then proceeded to spill a lot of hot chocolate sauce all over me that was hiding inside the base of the cone. I can concur that this is the best corner for food in all of Italy.

5. The Duomo

Anything that takes longer than someone's lifetime to build is, indeed, a miracle. Milan's Duomo took over half of a millennium to finally be finished in 1965! The interior is pretty standard for a cathedral, but what really draws visitors is the rooftop. It is normal for old churches to have viewpoints from the top, but how often does a church offer you spectacular views and the chance to jump around on the actual roof?!

I've got a love-hate relationship with heights (I hate being up too high, but I love terrifying myself?), but I can attest to the fact that the Duomo roof feels very safe. I was only freaked out for about three minutes climbing a wet marble staircase up the side of the façade. Other than that, I loved the twenty minutes I was above the city!

6. Lost and Found

The night before I returned to Munich, I went out with two of my new hostel friends for the Milan aperitivo experience. (No, it is not a miracle that I made friends.) We had a great time, but, at one of the bars, all of my wallet stuff fell out of my pockets. It was dark, we thought we found everything, and left. The next morning, I realized I was missing my Visa credit card and my German health card. I knew they were either already gone/stolen, or still in the bar. The bar that didn't open again until 6:30 p.m. - only two hours after my flight to Munich was going to leave! I checked out of my hostel and decided to spend the rainy morning just waiting around outside of the bar. Waiting for what?

The final miracle, of course.

This one came thirty-five minutes after I arrived at the bar, in the form of a Peruvian construction worker named Enrique. "Entrata?" he shouted at me from across the street, and I looked up in dumbfounded amazement with an incredulous, "YES! SI! You have a key to this building?!" He unlocked the bar at 11:35 a.m., let me look around, and I found my credit card on the floor. I didn't find my health card, but I did not care because it is easily replaceable, and the chances of the person who finds it looking exactly like me and wanting to live in Germany are not high. I was just thankful that my high school Spanish could string the conversation along and finish with a most sincere, "Muchas gracias!!!"

I'm still reeling with disbelief a week later that any of this even happened, but my Visa card is as good as ever, sitting on my dresser!

I met several hilarious people from all over the world in my hostel (British girls who live in Spain, Chinese guy who lives in France, Russian girl who lives in Morocco, Spanish siblings from the Basque country, and multiple French tourists), had delicious food for every meal, and even found my American deodorant in the supermarket (another miracle?)!

While Venice may be one of the coolest places I've ever been, I'm 100% all-in on Milan. It is officially my favorite city in Italy, and I will gladly return the next time those cheap plane tickets (sixty Euros round trip - that could make for the eighth miracle) come up again!

Do miracles happen during your trips? Which Italian city do you love the most?

6 Miracles in Milano on iOS & Android
Find the rest of my navigational GPSmyCity app article cities HERE.