When I decided to go to Milan, I figured that this was the perfect opportunity to see some live Calcio and finally get to say I’ve seen football abroad. AC Milan were playing at home that weekend, which meant that Inter were playing away. I’m an Inter guy, so seeing the Rossoneri was out of the question (especially as the match against Atalanta was bad). Inter played Torino in Turin that weekend, so I got myself a ticket to sit with the Inter fans and all was fine and dandy.
I had to cancel the ticket about 20 minutes before boarding the plane.
It turns out that away fans in Italy need a permit issued by the club to see away games, and I think that fans travelling from outside of Italy need a permit regardless (I may be wrong on that last one). This is the result of many years of Italian Calcio-related arseholery, so in a few ways I am now a victim of football hooliganism.
Of course that is a joke, but I was genuinely devastated about this as going to Turin to watch Inter was a big part of my journey, and now a hole has opened up in my diary and I need to fill it. I was going to go the San Siro on the Monday, my last full day, but I needed my Internazionale fix.
I get out of the subway and see the stadium. It blew me away. Right off the bat I was in awe at the sight of the legendary footballing coliseum, where the likes of Ronaldo, Kaka and Pirlo have called home and entertained the people of Milan for decades. Neither Milan team are at those standards these days, so you do have to do a lot of remembering at the San Siro, but to see the stadium right there in front of me was a feeling that I will never forget.
I get my ticket for the tour and the first stop is the museum. The majority of my pictures taken in Milan were from this museum. This museum is home to old jerseys, Champions League trophies and even a Balon d’Or. You really gain much more of an appreciation for the impact that Milan has had on the footballing world, and gain much more of an appreciation for the history of the clubs especially when comparing the old Milan teams to the current Milan teams.
Being so close to two Champions League trophies sent shivers down my spine. It is a beautiful trophy when you see it up close.
The tour itself is not that great, you will get better tours elsewhere. For example, at the Amsterdam ArenA you get a tour guide with a much more thorough explanation of the history of Ajax and the stadium itself, and you get the feeling that Ajax is very much proud of its place in football history. It is an actual tour of education.
At the San Siro, you have designated areas where people can go but you get no tour guide. You can move at your own pace, but you have to gain your own appreciation for the place. I would still recommend that any football fan visits the San Siro because the stadium itself has an aura that drags you in, but just don’t expect to talk Milan history with the staff or particularly talk to anyone.
Being in the dressing rooms and being pitch side was a dream come true for me, to stand where some of the most legendary players have stood made me appreciate the league I grew up watching on Channel 4 every Sunday. I had to take a moment in the stands to marvel at the whole pitch and point to myself:
“This is where Maldini stood. This is where Zanetti stood.”
As AC Milan played at home that weekend, the stadium was draped in AC colours, so it looked like the stadium has an AC bias, which was a bit of a kick in the gut, but I can appreciate and respect AC Milan, so there were no hard feelings.
It was a genuine dream come true to visit the San Siro and was definitely the highlight of my journey, largely thanks to James Richardson in the 90’s.
I headed for Duomo again because there is a Da Vinci museum there that is host to some of his “lost art” and inventions, so I figured that this could be very cool. Much like the pizza in Milan, this museum promised so much but delivered so little.
Visitors are not allowed to take pictures inside the museum. Why, I have no idea, but I didn’t want to put up a fight about it. When I visit my friends homes, I take my shoes off and ask to use the bathroom, it’s the same in a museum. If the house rules state no pictures, then I won’t take a picture.
It’s a shame, as there is some pretty cool stuff in there and the information boards were very interactive and in-depth, and the recreations of the inventions themselves were very good. There is also a VR section that recreates the room where Da Vinci painted the Last Supper, but I felt that the museum could have offered more. It could have been more warm and accommodating to (paying) visitors.
I couldn’t have spent more than 30 minutes in there before I decided to try something new. Duomo has a fair few museums and art galleries, so I was hardly scraping the barrel for options. I opted for the Museo del-Novocento because it looked modern on the outside and you could tell it had a lot to it, plus it helped that under-25s are allowed in for free.
The first floor of paintings felt very hipster, they were good but they weren’t great and I’m not even going to pretend that I understood them. I can marvel at art for a while, but I don’t particularly understand it. The gallery just gets a lot better as it goes on and the quality of the paintings do as well.
The staff at the Novocento are very warm and welcoming, and there was one staff member (I think she was called Sara) who I got to talking with because she takes a great interest in English literature, and I of course speak English. She was a very lovely woman who apologised profusely for her English not being great, and I apologised for not knowing any Italian. We got along great, had a very in-depth conversation about Italy and the English language, and she actively tried so hard to pronounce my name correctly.
Eventually she got it, and we went on our merry way wishing each other a great day and a great life. This is the side of Italy that I really enjoyed and miss.
The top floor of the Novocento exhibition is, well, pretty fucking trippy. There is one exhibit which is a small room filled with moving mirrors, flashing lights and creaking floorboards. I got out of that room thanking yesterday-Rhys for not leaving me with another hangover. It was a good experience with different styles of what one would call “art”, but damn it is painful on the eyes. Literally.
I really enjoyed the Novocento, I felt that it more than made up for my disappointment in the Leonardo3 Museum.
I take another walk around Duomo, going in one of the shopping centres to scout some Italian films, which I didn’t actually buy. A highlight of this shopping centre was watching the gaming clerks dancing to YMCA.
It’s getting to around tea time and I have photo’s to upload, so I go back to the hotel and relax for a bit. I get to talking with one of the hotel staff about football, this guy used to be on the books at Al-Ahli in Egypt and told stories about being one of two Christians in the team and the prejudices that comes with that.
We also talk football topics from Zlatan to Manchester. We also talk about our experiences in other countries, I speak very highly of Amsterdam and he speaks very highly of Egypt. You can tell that the conflicts in these regions sadden him, as they do everyone, and he says that Egyptians will recover from incidents like the plane crash but then something will happen to undo the hard work.
He is a very soft-spoken, very articulate and very grateful for the opportunities that he has had in his life. I enjoy speaking to him and I enjoy his positivity rubbing off on me, until I see that Dortmund beat Schalke in the derby that is.
I couldn’t handle another pizzeria, so I instead went to the other end of the spectrum and went to a Sushi bar .
I don’t like Sushi, but I wanted to try something new. The trip was all about experiences. I ordered a bowl of noodles, not entirely sure what flavour they were but I stuck with it anyway. I think it was fish flavoured as it came with fried shrimp, and it was surprisingly tasty and not at all vomit inducing.
I had Japanese noodles with Chinese beer in Italy. Multi-culturalism is amazing sometimes. I also ate fried chicken with chop-sticks because reasons.
It’s time to drink a bit more, so I go into a couple of bars sampling what beer they have, one bar was showing the Fiorentina vs Sampdoria match so I settled down in there for about 30 minutes, briefly having a chat with a Juventus fan about Sampdoria’s poor season, Chelsea’s poor season and David Moyes.
“See you in the Champions League”, he says before leaving. Very nice guy.
I eventually meet Roberto again outside of the rock and roll bar. It’s quite possibly the last time I’ll see him, so we go inside for some beers. We exchange emails and hopefully we’ll keep in touch as he really set the tone for the positive experiences that I have had so far in Italy. It was a nice way to end the day.
Tomorrow is my last full day in Milan, and I’m pretty much done with the tourist stuff. I just want to relax and take in the city one last time.
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