Serenity in Sempione – My Milan Journey #4

Three straight days of alcohol and energy drinks will eventually take its toll on the human body. It’s my last full day in Milan and it begins with me turning the bathroom into a Vietnam-like horror story.

It’s a good job I’m in relax mode. I’ve done all the tourist stuff I wanted to do, I just want to walk around for a bit, shoot the breeze and drink in Milan one last time before I fly back to Manchester.

Nearly crapping out my pancreas was not on the agenda, admittedly, but neither was knocking back tequila and caning Marlboro cigarettes. You live and learn.

I had a quick look on Google for more things to do, I’d been told about this park that a lot of tourists go to because it’s peaceful and fucking huge. There’s a lot of it to get through, and it’s free. I’m not leaving the hotel without clearing out my bowels though.

Of course, what leaves the body needs to be replaced, so I go into the first bar I visited on my first night (the one with the lobster) and get a Panini. I don’t know what cheese they put on this thing, but it dripped out of the other side of the sandwich which didn’t look too appealing.

Still, it tasted really good. Definitely one of the better meals I’ve had so far in Italy.

I’m still feeling a bit iffy but solider through the day. I get the subway to Parco Sempione and see what the deal is with this place.

Parco Sempione is sandwiched in between Sforza Castle the Arco della Pace which are two other stunning monuments in Milan. In this one area you have three of Milan’s most popular tourist spots and you don’t have to pay a single penny to get in.Although you will be harassed by people tying bits of string around your wrist and demanding money for it. They did get me, and it’s not the first time I’ve been done in by people like this in Europe, but that’s life.

Parco Siempe

It angered me when it happened and it still annoys me to think about it now. Why can’t I be more assertive? Why can’t they just leave people alone? Why don’t more Italians protect visitors?

I couldn’t help but think that my last day in Milan is going to go downhill.

“It’s a good luck bracelet!” – I suppose you have to admire the humour on these fuckers.

Anyway, I digress. I’m here to become one with nature and I’m not going to let hustlers ruin my time here. One of the first warnings you read when you first enter the subway is to beware of pick-pockets, which isn’t very encouraging to see, but the safety measure is the same whether it’s pick-pockets or bullies with string:

In Milan, keep your head down and keep your hands in your pockets. It’s easy to make friends in Milan, just do it in a controlled environment and not on the street.

I walk through the entrance of Sforza Castle not being sure if I have to pay anything, but no-one has stopped me yet so I just carry on walking through to the park. Parco Sempione is beautiful in the sun, it won’t completely rid your mind of all negativity like a Dutch coffee shop will, but it does help. I’m not much of a nature guy, but that’s because we have shit weather in England.

It’s easy to see why so many tourists and Milanese come to this park on a regular basis. It’s just there and is so easy on the eye. Of course I don’t make eye contact with anyone whilst I’m walking through here, because at least in the street you can shout for the police, but the park didn’t have much security so I’m taking no chances here.

When you eventually make it out of the park, you will get to the Arco della Pace, which I suppose is like the Arc de Triomphe in that it’s a big stone arch in a major European city. I sit down on some steps facing it and join the many others in just relaxing and staring at it.

It’s fitting that it’s called the Arch of Peace, as I sit down and am at peace with myself for those 5-10 minutes. I forget about home, why I’m in Milan and what could happen in the future. For the first time in a long time I feel quite numb, and that’s a good thing for me, to be numb and just let go.

I see a newlywed bride and groom under the Arch taking their wedding photographs and suddenly I feel again. I feel happy for them and I wish them the best. It’s time for me to move, I do a quick lap around the village whose name I can’t remember, just passing people by and generally trying to maintain the peace that I am in.

I return to the Arch and take a much more slow-paced stroll through the park, stopping to take pictures this time. I get back to the Castle and have a look around at all of the free stuff. Sforza Castle is well worth visiting, and I imagine it gets better when you pay for access to the other areas.

Parco Sempione isn’t far from Duomo, so there’s no point in me getting a subway ticket. I have time to kill and I want to take in as much of Milan as I can whilst I still have it. I get into Duomo, buy an Inter Milan shirt and make my way back to the hotel. Still feeling a bit iffy, I get some snacks and just sit in my room for a couple of hours.

Parco Siempe

I still wear the string that was forced onto me, by the way. They look cool. The bullying was unnecessary, they look cool and I would have happily paid for more. I guess that’s what really annoys me the most.

One of my holiday traditions is to sample as much different beer as I can, this started in Hamburg and was continued in Amsterdam and now Milan. With my “broken brain”, this cannot be sustained for too long, however. The other, “better”, tradition I have is to also have a burrito in each foreign city I visit. This started in Hamburg but due to World Cup and Pearl Jam commitments could not be done in Amsterdam.

I find a Mexican restaurant and chow down on this burrito. I mean, I go to town on this food that is put in front of me and I go to town on the beer that they have too. The majority of food I’ve had so far has been woefully underwhelming, so I am up for this burrito. The restaurant is called Piedra del Sol and it is a wonderful place to eat, the staff are awesome, the manager is awesome and the atmosphere just fits the place so well.

I rightfully thank the staff and the manager for the stellar job that they are doing with the place and make my way to the hotel. However, nothing has yet reached the highs of the somewhat famed Hamburg burrito.

The restaurant wasn’t far from the central station so there’s no point in getting the subway. It’s night time in Milan and I want to enjoy one last walk in the city. I decide to make a quick pit stop at Bar Gluck if it’s open, which it is. Afterwards I thank both Francesca and her brother Sebastian for helping to welcome me into Milan.

I’m really going to miss this bar and the people that I met there. I have nothing but good things to say about the area that I was in.

Time for bed, it’s a busy day tomorrow. For now, I am at peace with my life, and I want to milk every last second of this feeling.

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