Thursday, May 24, 2012

Milan, Italy!

What a week it has been here at Sweet Adventures!  My middle daughter graduated from high school with honors......but the best surprise was that she was awarded the valedictorian of her class!  What a great honor.  She has worked so hard in school; been involved in athletics; volunteering in our community; and managed a few movie marathons with friends along the way.  After weighing her college acceptance offers and scholarships she choose BYU as her next adventure in life.  I know she will accomplish great things as this next journey begins.  Thank goodness they accept cookie care packages at BYU!  We enjoyed having family visit and celebrate the occasion with us and a great party hosted by friends with swimming, brick oven pizza's, and of course......cookies!
My stepson Davis also graduated this week!  (Did I mention it was busy?) ;). The Saturday before we left for Milan we ventured over to his neck of the woods and attended the ceremony.  We enjoyed seeing him in his cap and gown, beaming from ear to ear.  We are happy for him achieving this milestone and to see where his journey will take him!
After a great dinner we headed back to home base to get ready for our Italian Adventure.  Now, I'm's been 3 weeks since the  "everyone in Paris is still wearing boots and coats" scene....surely the fashionista's of Milano (as Europeans call it) are wearing spring clothes.  (I was wrong!)  After a quick weather check, I pull out the umbrella and rain jacket first.  There was a 100% chance of rain the first day.  Once the packing was complete, we head for the airport!
My aviator man helped get us safely to Milano and the wonderful Radisson.   Now I just have to say this hotel was a giant step up ( big, big, big step up) from the Novotel in Paris.  The staff was friendly and most spoke English; it was clean; bright; and modern.  We were very pleasantly surprised with the room upgrade (small charge but worth it).  Here are a few pictures of the awesome suite!  Once we got situated and took a nap; we were ready to explore.

The Weather Channel (thanks; Jim Cantore) was right on track with the forecast; it was pouring rain!  We took the Metro, Milano's subway system.  (If you are planning a trip, it would be a good idea to download the app for the metro and have an idea of which line/direction you need to go).  A young man was sitting next to me and asked where we were from.  It seemed most Italians were eager to speak English; as he was...which was nice! 
We had a nice conversation and he suggested visiting "The Castellano" near the Duomo.  We added that to our agenda.  Along the way we stopped for a piece of pizza which was about half of a pie.  It was ginormous!
We headed across the street to the Duomo; a beautiful historic cathedral that is still in use today.  The stained glass artwork and intricate carvings detailed historic Christian events and stone columns rise to a curved ceiling high overhead.  The pattern on the granite floor was so symmetrical and beautiful...see what I mean?  You can take stairs or an elevator (patrons say cost and wait are worth it) for the breathtaking views of the city of Milano and an up close look of the centuries old carvings.
We left the Duomo and headed towards "the Castellano" via the Galleria shopping area. We rounded the corner and could see the spectacular castle in the distance.  This is a centuries old castle complete with a mote, lookout tower, and huge iron gates.  We entered the center court and imagined jousting on horseback......grins ~ and continued along the cobblestone to the park behind the castle.  We could see a beautiful arch through the park and explored that area as well.  The roses were blooming and it was one of the most beautiful sites to see.
The skies were clearing and next we decided to head for the canal area.  We were told of a shop where they distill and bottle their own varieties of wine and olive oil.  We found the shop, La Vineria, and owner, Aaron Brussolo.  It was a small, busy shop but Aaron gladly lets everyone sample the varieties from Pinot Grigio to Merlot.  Towards the back, I could see three metal drums where the olive oil was kept.  See the drums here? 
Aaron let us come back and smell the three varieties he had; which were amazing!  The oils are not infused with herbs; the aroma and flavor is naturally absorbed by the olive trees and into the olives.  The flavor is dependent upon what region the olives came from.  Pretty neat!  The first drum had a tomato scent.  The second drum was much more earthy and grassy; with a hint of basil.  The last drum was a mild, nutty scent.  When you make your choice; Aaron takes it directly from the drum and bottles it for you.  I can't wait to try the olive oil at home and see how it affects the flavor of the dish.  Definitely worth the trip.  After a long day we were ready to eat dinner and head back to the hotel.  Whew!  I will post a blog of the rest of our wonderful trip to Italy next time!

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