Italy: Trip There and Day One, 3/24 and 3/25/18 (Newark to Milan)
I have a milestone birthday coming up in a few weeks, I'm turning 50. Richard and I decided to take a trip to launch birthday season - - I always say that a birthday isn't just a day, it's more like a whole season. Well, this one is turning out to be more like an epoch. Our primary purpose for the trip was for me to go somewhere I'd never been before. We settled on Rome, and thought we'd tack on a few days in Milan before Rome to visit friends.
We noticed, when we were planning the trip, that it was outrageously expensive to fly into Milan and out of Rome, it was much cheaper to fly in and out of Milan and take the train to and from Rome. It wasn't until after we'd finished our plans that we realized that our trip was during HOLY WEEK. Yes, we would be not just in Italy, but in ROME in the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. Oy! A friend said that we'd be seeing Rome at its most Roman, or at least at its most Catholic.
Let me give you an overview of the whole trip:
Sat 3/24: We left Newark at 6:30 PM.
Sun 3/25: We landed in Milan at 8:40 AM. We spent the next couple of nights at the Hotel Marconi.
Tues 3/27: We took the train to Rome, stayed at the Hotel Emmaus.
Fri 3/30: We took the train back to Milan.
Sat 3/31: We flew out of Milan at 10:30 AM, arrived in Newark at 1:45 PM that same day.
We watched a few movies on our way over. I watched the new *Murder on the Orient Express,* directed by Kenneth Branagh. Richard saw it on a recent flight and said it was just as awful as the critics said, so of course I wanted to see for myself. It was bad but not really dreadful. The story is so strong, it can’t really be harmed that badly. Let’s say it was misguided.
RICHARD: You know the Orient Express is back in business.
ME: Really! Should we take it?
RICHARD: Of course.
At this point Dame Judi Dench and Olivia Colman came onscreen, as the Countess Dragamiroff and her maid, which of course led to a discussion of which of us would be Dragamiroff and which would be her maid. Well, Richard is both older and shorter than I, so it’s not really hard to figure out...
I was hoping I’d fall asleep during the next movie so I chose one I had seen already, *The Proposal,* with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Such a cute movie. I enjoyed it too much, I didn’t fall asleep. They fed us dinner, I had a delicious chicken and orzo dish, Richard chose the Indian vegetarian, which he said was tasty. He got a glass of red wine, and I got one two, when I heard it was free! Richard said that’s typical for international flights.
I finally did sleep a little, maybe just a couple hours - - it was hard for me to get comfortable. We landed in Milan, spent about ten minutes waiting in line at Immigration and about thirty seconds talking to the guy in the booth. Fine with me!
We took the commuter train to Central Station and walked to our hotel from there, just ten minutes down the street. Our room wasn’t ready yet, so we dropped our bags and had lunch at a cute place down the street, the Ristorante Alla Cadrega. We split a salad and each had a pizza - - Richard had a margherita (red sauce and mozzarella), I had smoked salmon. Both were delicious and very BIG. We saved our leftover pizza for the train to Rome on Tuesday. Here’s a cute picture of Richard - - the sunlight on his head makes it look like he’s wearing a strange hat.
Back to the hotel. We hung out in the lobby for a while and then got up to the room - - we put our stuff away and laid down for a quick nap.
Our friends Michele and Marco had us over for dinner that night. Their daughter Alma is just over two and we hadn’t seen her in person yet, so we were really looking forward to that.
It was such a treat to see Michele and Marco. They’re such great guys and we both wish we saw more of them (it’s a little difficult, with us in New York and them in Milan). And Alma is the cutest little girl ever!
Marco told us the funniest story about her. One of their neighbors is a 94-year-old woman. Marco is a cardiac surgeon and often goes upstairs to look in on her and take her blood pressure. He often brings Alma with him because the old lady of course loves seeing her. She’s very old fashioned and always addresses him as “dottore” - - “Buona sera, Dottore,” “Grazie, Dottore.” The morning after their last visit, Marco woke up Alma and she said, in her two-year old voice, “Buongiorno, Dottore.”
The dinner they fixed for us was so delicious. They started with an Italian Easter specialty called pasqualitos - - hard boiled eggs and spinach wrapped in pastry. And for dinner, beautiful little raviolis stuffed with fish and eggplant. They weren’t your typical square ravioli, they were shaped like a pouch. Marco got them at a neighborhood store, and said this is more labor intensive and more special than the square variety. The red sauce was spectacular, nice and bright. And a lovely gateau St. Honoré for dessert.
Here's a great picture of Michele and Richard, and another of Alma and her two dads:
We took an Uber home that night and crashed.