One very popular thing in the north of Italy is the "aperitivo". Every bar with the smallest part of respect have every day (monday-saturday) an aperitivo.
An aperitivo means a table full of food, pasta, pizza-slices, vegetables, ham, sausages and more and more.
Around 6 pm every day they put out this table for their clients, and all you have to do as a client is to buy a beer or something else to drink. Then you can eat as much as you want of all the food.
It's a really popular thing to do among the milanese people, they finish work, goes out with some friends, have a beer, eat the food and then they go home and are full until dinner late that night.
Important: be sure to don't come to late for the aperitivo, that might mean that the bar is crowded and that the food almost is finished...
The Italians have a cult for the lunch breaks.
This is an Italian custom that I’ve learned in time, especially after a couple of times without eating.
As my main "activity" when going to Italy is visiting, I thought there will be no problem to eat something later in the afternoon. My surprise was to find almost all the restaurants closed and to finish eating Chinese food.
The usual lunch includes a sandwich (panino) or pizza, a drink (sometimes spumante) and coffee.
One thing that we love about Italy is the free bar snacks on offer in some bars.
Apparently bar snacks are HUGE in Milan.
At one bar that we went to in Milan, the bar snacks were designed to double as dinner - there was hot pasta, risotto, meats, chips, dips etc - and all free!!!
Well, I guess it does encourage you to stay there and buy drinks instead of going out to dinner.....so you end up spending more on the drinks than you would have on dinner... all good fun though!
For the ones used to a copious English breakfast, Italy is the wrong country.
The usual Italian breakfast is based on sweet things (cake, biscuits, and croissants) accompanied by coffee or cappuccino.
A real Italian will drink cappuccino only in the morning, as it is considered an appropriate drink during the day.
Though Milan does have a long pedestrian zone in the city center (from the Cathedral to the Castle, almost), it still has a lot of scope for future re-allocation of urban spaces in other parts of the city. (Not that this seems to be a big priority so far.)
In the Via San Marco (first photo) there is adequate space that could easily be used for pedestrians, cyclists and trees, but in fact non-motorized human beings are squeezed into a narrow gap between rows of parked cars.
Second photo: Via Vitruvio, near the Central Station, is a typical Milan street with narrow sidewalks, no bicycle lanes, space-wasting on-street car parking and unnecessarily wide automobile lanes. At least they have tram tracks here, but the trams are liable to be blocked by cars during the rush hours.
Third photo: There are a few places in Milan where re-allocation of urban space has begun. Here in Corso Garibaldi they have recently made a limited traffic area by removing one of the two automobile lanes and using the space to widen the sidewalks.
This nice police officers stood in front of Palazzo Marino, today Milan's City Hall chating with guard in front of the palace. The girl-officer is particularly attractive, which cannot be seen because of the huge helmett, (trust my judgement.)
Anyhow, I approched to them asking if they mind I make a photo. Sincw they didn't mind at all, I joined them.
Grazie ragazzi, siete stati molto gentili.
Dopo un percorso di "mille" kilometri, a 38 gradi, ero stuffo di tutto. Non avevo piu voglia di caminare ne cercare i luoghi asegnati nel mio itinerario. Mentre passavo Via Carducci, come un robote, ho notato questo graphiti che mi ha aiutato di riprendere il morale.
"Berlusconi, Bossi e Finni, finirete come Mussolini"
Eviva la democrazia!
Sorry folks, this is written in Italian and assigned to my Italian friends.
Italians always drink cappuccino or coffee at the bar for breakfast in the morning
Please note that a "real Italian coffee" is rather small compared to those big portions served for instance at "Starbucks", but it tastes stronger!
General information about Milan in English language either online or in printed version.
Hello Milano is published every month, and distributed free in hotels, tourist info offices, consulates and many other locations.
Excellent up to the minute information on Milano...
Interactive City Map
Hotels in Milan
Weather in Milan
Films in English
During the Fall and December you might find roasted chestnuts for sale in Italy. There was one person selling these at the entrance of the Sforza Castle. See below for photo.
If you have never tried these, you should. You will need a tissue to clean the charcoal dust off your fingers when finished eating.
Some years ago when time were difficult the flour of chestnuts provided flour for food. There are many recipes for food made with chestnut flour that will be found in genuine cookbooks.
When traveling in a country where english is not the main language I try to make an effort to speak the local language. Italian is a beautiful language and it isn't very hard to pick up the basics. I got a phrase book and a CD, which I put on my i-Pod, to help me learn some phrases. And while I was shy about trying to speak the language at first, by the end of my 2 weeks there I was ordering meals and ice-cream (gelato) all in Italian!
So here are some helpful phrases to get you started!
Hello/Goodbye (informal): Ciao
Good Morning: Buongiorno
Good Afternoon/Evening: Buonasera
Good Night: Buonanotte
Please: per favore
Thank you: grazie
That's fine: Va bene
How Are You?: Come sta?
Where is...?: Dov'e...?
I didn't understand: non ho capito
Do you speak English?: Parla Inglese?
The happy hours in Milan are very famous. Usually they start around 6 pm and finish around 8-9 pm. The drinks during this time cost a fixed price starting from 5 Euro to 8 Euro depending on the bar. Most Milanese bars have happy hours or aperitivo as we should say. During this time, there will be open buffet food which may turn your evening to a feast. Some bars really have incredible buffet food with lots of variety and some buffets are quite weak compared to these. You can eat as much as you want from the buffet so this aperitivo finally becomes a dinner for you. This is the best solution for a cheapdinner in Milano. You can find some of my favorite bars for aperitivo in restaurant tips.
Italians are so obsessed with their mobile phones, they cannot separate for one second from them, and sometimes they just show off in using them even when it is not necessary or it is inappropriate!
Bad, bad habit!
On the 7th of December, even the frenetic Milan stops every year to celebrate its patron saint: Saint Ambrose, who was its bishop in Medioeval times.
This is a real “holy” event, not only for its religious nature, but especially because the citizens of Milan are really envolved in it! In particular they woudn’t miss for any reason the “Oh Bej Oh Bej” fair, which traditionally takes place exactly in the period of the patron saint’s celebrations, and this year from 5th to 8th of December.
This is one of the most ancient events in Milan. The legend tells that its strange name “Oh Bej Oh Bej” comes from children’s astonished exclamations (the expression, in fact, means something like “Oh how great, how great!”), amazed by the wonderful presents given to the city by the Pope Pio IV in 1510 . The fair is still the reign of surprises for children and for adults as well, thanks to more than 400 stalls full of every kind of objects and to an overwhelming atmosphere of feast.
Traditionally, here people buy Christmas decorations, eat hot chestnuts and drink “vin brulè” (hot spiced wine), perfect against the ice-cold of Milan
Italians are coffee addicts and from breakfast till late night, they use every chance to drink coffee. You will see many coffee shops all around Milan. Italians regularly go to these coffee shops, take their coffee quickly and leave. If you stay long enough in Milan, you also become a coffee addict :)
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