Monday, April 13, 2015

Public transportation news in Milan (wonderful...finally)

Post after post after post about public transportation strikes in Milan and thought this was going to be another one, didn't you?...More......

I confess, when the original article's title caught my eye, I did, too...then hope began warring with disbelief, until good triumphed over evil: there will be public transportation in Milan 24 hours a day during Expo.

Wait...wait...don't get too excited.

The entire daytime network won't be running all night long. The much reduced late hours service of Friday and Saturday will be extended:

--bus 151 (substitutes M1-metro line 1)
--bus 152 (substitutes M2)
--bus 153 (substitutes M3)
--N42 (Bicocca-Central Train Station)
--N6, N15, N24, N27, N50, N54, N57, N80, N95
--the trams 90 and 91

This is as good a time as any to encourage ATM to extend service every day of the week by at least an hour or two. I'm no night owl, but if I want to go out for dinner and a movie, it's a scary proposition to play beat the public transportation clock in order to be able to watch, eat, chat and get home before the clanging of the clock shortly after midnight turns the ATM employees back into Cindarella's mice.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

April 12th - Marathon in Milan (again)

There are marathons in Milan, so it must be spring.

This Sunday the 12th of April the town will be paralyzed for the Swisse Gas Marathon.

Stay indoors and play video games or read, get out in support, or get out early, period.

It's pretty useless to try to make your way around town.

Another strike on the way...Tuesday, April 14, 8:45 AM - 3 PM

Yet another public transportation strike in Italy. In Milan, the times on Tuesday the 14th of April will be from 8:45 AM to 3 PM.

Could have been worse.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Massive amount of additions to my "Art in Milan" pages on the "Where Milan" site...check 'em out!

In honor of Expo, I've finally got the better of distractions, and spent HOURS writing out quick summaries for almost all of Milan's principal museums (and there are quite a few). Still have a couple to go, but am pooped. Will finish tomorrow. In the meantime, here's link, so you can have that info on hand, too.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Free entry to SOME Italian state-owned museums on Easter and Easter Monday (2015)

Hope this becomes a nice habit: this year's free entry to state-owned museums in Italy on Easter and Easter Monday.

The bad news is that the official web site for the cultural patrimony ministry is only in Italian.

The good news is that the coverage of this possibility is pretty self-explanatory: a region by region, museum by museum list.

In Milan? Leonardo's "Last Supper" (by reservation what's the point?!) and the Brera Pinacoteca.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

April 10. What's up? Another public transportation strike, of course.

Could be worse.

This time it's "just" the new train company, Italo.

24 hours. April 10, 2015.

Info from "Milano Today" (in Italian).

Forewarned is forearmed.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

More art for sale in Milan: MIART, 10-12 April, 2015

You can't buy just one...MIART is back at Fiera Milano City (the in-town convention center), 10-12 April 2015, with vibrant pieces to tempt you just before Expo 2015 explodes.

Want more info about when, where and how much? Go to their web site in English.

Then come back, and let us know what you bought!


Monday, March 30, 2015

Handy ATM news in time for a reminder about the strike, tonight...

You're wandering around Milan, enjoying the city, but you're pooped, and ready to head back to the creature comforts of your hotel and a hot meal...without a valid ATM ticket, and no ticket vendor or machine in sight.

What to do?...More......

If you have TIM, Wind, Vodaphone or H3G and a smart phone, now you can buy your ticket via SMS!

BEFORE BOARDING, send an SMS to ATM at this number: 48444. You will receive an SMS with a normal urban ticket validated in that moment (so the seconds are have 90 minutes).

"Normal urban" means that the ticket is *not* valid for the metro stops outside of the city limits (that includes the Rho-Pera convention center).

Cost? Ticket: Euro 1,50 + whatever charges your carrier imposes.

How can you use it to ride on the metro, or on the TreNord and "passante" services? Go to one of the ATM ticket vending machines, press "ticket with SMS," input the PNR code (Personal Reservation Number), and print out the ticket. It automatically will have only the time remaining on the ticket.

Want more info in English? Too bad. I only found it in Italian, so you'll just have to trust me. :-)


P.S., about the public transportation strike in Milan, today, it's from 6 P.M. to 10 P.M.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Beware the 29th of's open season for city marathons in Milan, again...beginning with StraMilano

There are a handful of foot race and biking marathons that paralyze Milan a few times a year, and one is about to break on us, again:

StraMilano, Sunday, March 29.

The activities start at around 8:30 A.M., and are supposed to finish around 1 P.M.-ish. In the meantime, it will be practically impossible to drive or take surface transportation, or even sometimes walk, if where you need to go is on the other side of the race course. As the organizers kindly reminded me last year, 'Please encourage people to come out in support of the run.'

O.K., I've done it.

Or sleep in.

It's the morning after the time change in Italy, after all.

Want more info in English about just where it will be run and, heavens you're full of energy, how to participate? Click here.


P.S., I snapped this photo during the StraMilano a couple of years ago, for your non-profit personal pleasure.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Beware the 30th of March...public transport strike in Milan from 6 PM to 10 PM

Protests against the sacrifices requested of its workers by ATM, Milan's public transport system, for EXPO 2015 have generated a strike on Monday the 30th of March. Services will halt from 6 PM to 10 PM.

At least one of the requests seem perfectly reasonable to me: no vacations.

For Pete's sake, people, it's only for 6 months, and the chance to get the world to see what a super city for tourism Milan is comes once only 100 or so years. (Yes, yes, yes, there are problems particularly because life in Italy is still pretty much organized around almost everything shutting down in August, and schools aren't organized on a year-round program, I see all this, but I's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bring our city to the attention of world travellers with a good chance of positive trickle down for you, whatever your job.)

Other complaints, longer working hours without breaks, for example, do sound legitimate, because the situations created could be a bit dangerous for all involved. Fix

What to do?

If you can't leave work to get home before 6 PM, go out to dinner, a movie, a loooooong cup of tea with friends or a book, near where you work, if you can.

(Info source, in Italian)

I can hardly say my usual "Enjoy!," can I?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Good taste, but shallow pockets? It's time, again, for the "Affordable Art Fair" in Milan, 19-22 March 2015

Everything for sale, they promise, is for Euro 6,000.00 or less.

March 19-22, Milan, Italy, at the Superstudio Più, via Tortona, 27.

By subway
Green line MM2 P.ta Genova or S.Agostino

By bus
Lines 47- 59 – 68 – 74 – 90/91

By tram
Lines 14 – 29/30

For times and ticket have to pay to get in (which I find rather silly for a place that wants to SELL you something), go to their website in English.

Then let us know what you bought!


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Coming to Expo? Here's how to get to the site

Practicalities, dear Expo-ing friends: how to get there from here.

Thankfully, the page is in English, but it's abysmally hard to find on the official Expo web least right keep this link handy.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Go to a Civic Museum in Italy, today, and get in doesn't get better than this!

On the first Sunday of the month (at least until April 2015), entering some CIVIC museums in Italy is free. The entry fee for civic museums often is quite reasonable to begin with, but it's an especially lovely gesture for struggling families....More......

So, no excuse, the weather's nice in Milan, and the civic museums are varied and sure to have something of interest for everyone. In Milan:

Museo Archeologico, a marvelous Goldilocks museum...not too big, not too small, it's juuuuussssst right...that gives you a good overview of Milan's ancient past and gives you a chance to see what remains of Milan's ancient Roman imperial city walls, this is always high on my "don't miss" list. See here for the my post written during a previous round of freebie entry. Go here for the museum's web site, alas, only in Italian.

Cenacolo Vinciano, aka da Vinci's "Last Supper" usually needs reservations for this...see my previous post.

Museo della Storia Naturale (minerals, dioramas, stuffed animals, informative didactics,...see my previous post; or the web site only in Italian)

Musei del Castello Sforzesco (the variegated museums in the city's lovely castle, including the collection of historial things Milanese and the ancient Celtic and Egyptian collections; web site in English)

Palazzo Morando (fascinating glimpses of the Milan of yesteryear seen in period paintings; the rooms are punctuated with displays of period dress; web site only in Italian)

Acquario civico (refurbished a few short years ago, the acquarium, similar to Goldilock's bowl of porridge, is "just right"...neither too big to bore non-enthusiasts, nor too small to bore fans...and there's a fun tub-tunnel...for a general look...scroll down...see this post)

GAM-Galleria d'arte moderna (go here for your 19th century art background before you head off to see the modern stuff...not so interested in 19th century art? GO ANYWAY...the early 19th century palazzo is gorgeous...stay out of the park in the back,'s reserved for families with young children; web site only in Italian)

Museo del Risorgimento (dedicated to the peninsula's finally successful attempt to become a single independent nation, it also has other delightful surprises: the coronation robe Napoleon wore in Milan's Duomo, the bell cracked by hammering during the 1848 insurrection, paintings whose content can surprise and move...; web site only in Italian)

A word to the wise: check out the individual museum's web site and/or call in advance to make sure that last minute problems or required advance reservations don't leave you disappointed.

Are you elsewhere in Italy? Then go here for the entire list...sigh, only in Italian...and be sure to note any caveats at the beginning of the page before you scroll down to find the region and city of interest.

Oh, before I close, do you come often to Milan, or maybe even live here? Don't forget that you can buy a museum card pretty cheaply that has a lot of benefits. See my previous post.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Milan tourist card options and a couple of principal info sites

Before you leave for Italy, you might want to surf the tourist card sites offering discounts to see which one is best for you (often museum, restaurant and public trasportation discounts are offered, and there just might also be free tickets for the special bus between Malpensa and Milan...the latter is not quite half the cost of the train, but even that--at about E.13.00 one way is reasonable, and the tickets can be bought at the airport). Various options for various time periods are available at various prices, so compare to find the best fit for you.

A word to the wise:...More......

...if you want to see Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, be sure to look for that as part of the package. Tickets have to be bought weeks, even months, in advance, and go like hot cakes.

Another word to the wise: avoid coming to Milan when there are trade fairs in town. That fills up hotels, and pushes up prices. How to know? Go to the official web site, in English, and look at the calendar for your desired dates. The principal trade fairs to avoid are women's and men's clothing, and the furniture and design fairs.

MILAN PASS (together with Zani Viaggi, who also do bus trips to outlet malls)
I like this one because it includes the Hop On-Hop Off City Sightseeing bus (covered and open) so you can get a better idea quickly of what there is in the city, how far things are from each other, and then decide. Zani Viaggi is also an authorized retailer of official Expo tickets. The web site is available in 80+ languages; if it doesn't open in English, use the pulldown menu in the upper right hand corner.

The offerings seem to be pretty broadly packaged, including options for the Lombard lakes region (don't miss beautiful Como, if you can help it), Rome, Florence and Venice. Go here.

Perhaps the first city card to come out, it seems to have disappeared. I can't find any updated info on it.

Not quite a "pass," it does offer, among other things, a three-hour walking tour that includes Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper. Go here.

Want to do everything on your own? Buy your official Last Supper tickets, here, through VivaTicket.

More do-it-yourself help? Here's the official Expo web site in English.

Italy's official tourism info source...though it doesn't get the support that it should (and a coordinated effort has faded with the abolition of the Ministry of Italy, for Pete's the early '90s). The site and offices still might be helpful. The site has a map on which you can find their office nearest you (if it's still open...).

The official tourism site of the province of Milan (of which the city of Milan is the capital), this web site is full of great info, especially if you're interested in getting off the beaten track, and getting outside of the metropolis.

The city of Milan's official page, it, too, is FULL of info (including for specialized interests and sectors). You'll have to arm yourself with patience and a magnifying glass. Despite complaints, they have kept the black background... I guess they think it's cool, but it's quite hard to consult, the reading is difficult. The web site address to take you directly to the English version is absurdly long. Go here, and click on the English flag button. You'll get there all the same. You can buy your Expo tickets, here, download free apps with tourist info, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

The name has changed a few times, but the idea is the same: to give up-to-date and accurate tourism information. Group tours, whether general or specialized sometimes are offered (for example, a tour of the art nouveau ["Stile Liberty"] architecture in town, or of ancient Roman Milan). Go here to find their info points.

Want a tour of the city? If you want a private tour of the city, there are lots of tour guide associations and private guides whose information is available on the internet. BE FOREWARNED: to be a tour guide in Italy and Europe, it is obligatory to have passed an exam, and to have received a license to operate. This is supposed to help guarantee an acceptable level of service and English, which is obligatory (other languages are available). There are too many to list, here, so here's a link to the oldest association.

And, last, but not least:

Don't forget to surf my blog, "My Milan (Italy)" open since 2010, and my "Art in Milan" (active on Where Milan since 2014) for more great stuff! Come back, and check for new posts!


Friday, February 6, 2015

First time in Italy and worried about eating decently on a budget? Here are some good tips

You're excited. It's the first time you've been to Italy, maybe even outside of your native country, and you're worried about eating on a budget. No problem, here are some basic tips that will get you from the toe to the top of the boot....More...


The bars in Italy (yes, they call them bar...imported foreign words tend to stay singular, even in the plural) are quite different from the bars in the U.S., and maybe in your country, too. Think English pub. Without the cute.

They are places where the whole family can go, where people drop in for a quick espresso (if you must, caffè lungo, caffè americano -- American-style coffee, but, if you want to fit in, don't embarrass yourself by asking for a cappuccino after breakfast time), a quick bite or lunch, and, later, an aperitivo (aperitif, pronounced ah-pair-ah-TEE-vo), and even a Happy Hour, but typically no heavy drinking goes on, here.

What's there to eat?

For breakfast, pasta frolla (a wonderful usually S-shaped sugar cookie) or brioche/cornetti of all kinds (pronounced bree-OSH / kor-NEH-tee): semplice (pronounced SEHM-plee-chaye with the "ch" of "church") with nothing inside, or with cioccolato (chocolate, pronounced cho-ko-LAHH-toe, with the "ch" of "church") or marmellata (different flavors of marmelade, jam; pronounced mar-meh-LAH-tah).

For lunch, there are typically cold sandwiches called panini (pronounced pah-NEE-nee; singular: panino ... instead of "nee" at the end, add "no") with all sorts of stuff inside, toast (UNTOASTED sandwiches on soft white bread), or piadine (plural, pronounced pee-ah-DEE-nay, for the singular add "no" on the end, instead of "nee"): a thick flour tortilla-like thing that is filled with stuff, and then just folded over. They'll ask you if you want it heated on a grill (Da riscaldare?). for yes, and no for, well, no.

If you want it to take-away, say Da portare via (pronounced dah poor-TAR-ay VEE-ah), and they'll put it in a little sack for you. Don't forget your manners: per piacere (please; pronounced pair-pee-ah-CHAIR-ee) and grazie (thanks; pronounced grah-ZEE-aye).

Want something sweet, afterwards? Torta (a kind of heavy flat cake, pronounced TOR-tah) or frutta (fruit, pronounced FRUU-tah) are typical. Or a gelato (pronounced jeh-LAH-toe).

Oh, before we finish the bars...sitting down, even if you take your cup yourself and bus the table yourself...usually adds a Euro or two to the price, so you'll have to get the feel of individual bars before you do it. Servizio a tavola (table service) always costs a few Euros more, and, no, you may not sit down at those very inviting tables under those shady umbrellas without ordering something.


Some bars, or even cafeteria-style restaurants, have pre-prepared cold food that they can reheat in a microwave. In Milan, these typically are pre-prepared or choose-your-own plates of the following: verdura (vegetables, pronounced vair-DUR-ah), patate (potatoes, pronounced pah-TAH-tay), arrosto (roasted beef or veal, pronounced ah-ROH-stoh), cotoletta (veal cutlet, breaded or unbreaded, pronounced koh-toe-LEH-tah), and pasta (PAH-stah). There may also be uova (eggs, pronounced wu-OH-vah, singular irregular: add "voh" instead of "vah").


This is like a half-way stage between a cafeteria and a tavola fredda. It's usually in a bar with more generous seating, and they have a sneeze-guarded area with heated food ready for your choosing; it's not self-service, you'll have to ask for what you want. If you're picky about your food, since it has been kept hot (and usually goes pretty fast, so relatively freshly made...particularly important for avoiding soggy pasta), it usually is a better taste choice than the preceding options.


This is a chain of cafeterias owned by Autogrill (see below). It's one step above the tavole calde because the high turnover keeps some of the typical stuff fairly fresh (although I still recommend avoiding the pizza and pasta, as it's not at its best), while other things are prepared for you right in front of your eyes (for example, very tasty grilled chicken breasts). Salad fixings are fresh, but you'll have to be content with oil and vinegar for dressing (I recommend getting out of the habit of other kinds of dressing that cover up the taste of the salads and add useless calories). Keep an eye on what you put on your tray. It can add up.


An Italian pizza chain belonging to Autogrill (see below). What can I say...bleh. Avoid it. Pizza restaurants are plentiful, the costs are reasonable, and the pizza is MUCH better.


If you are driving in Italy, these "pitstop" places mix bar-tavola fredda-tavola calda-shop (and bathroom amenities) for a break. As you might imagine, it's not the best you'll ever have eaten, but it's the only thing available pretty much, and is certainly better than nothing. Besides Italy, they are in a few European countries and even North America. Want to find out more about them? Here's the website in English.


Before you go, at least look up the stuff you hate, or can't eat, but keep in mind that Italy is just now awakening broadly to vegetariansim or to special dietetic needs. You'll need to be flexible, and explore. That is, after all, what travelling is all about. Even at the table.


Remember, I get no kickbacks of any kind for mentioning restaurants and shops!

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