lunedì, agosto 01, 2005

Summer in Milano

Whilst most of Europe still busies itself with life in the “fast lane” of modern society, Milan, the business heart of Italy and the fashion centre of the world, takes a well-earned break from its normal busy, self-absorbed style. It takes a holiday as the majority of Milanese flee for the hills – or at least the seaside – for their annual 4 week holiday.

It is my favourite time of the year here though. Driving around is stress-free, parking is easy, people are more relaxed, public transport is less crowded and the shops (yes, quite a number of shops these days remain open for most of the holiday) are devoid of the normal hustle and bustle of madly shopping crowds. Quite frankly, it is the time of year that everyone should visit Milan, but fortunately, for the sake of the Milanese that stay in the city for August, don’t.

My late father-in-law used to spend his summer in Milan as well, saying that it, too, was his favourite time of year here. I can quite see his point. Wandering through a pleasantly empty city, there are all sorts of things going on that would entertain and interest the remaining populance. There is music and dancing for free in the Parco Sempione for those with the bent and the desire to make new friends or simply re-meet old ones whilst twirling to the sound of traditional Lombard tunes. The museums and galleries are open and, of course, mostly empty. The sound of police cars of various flavours, ambulances and fire engines become a distant memory allowing almost forgotten sleep patterns to re-establish themselves again.

Of course, for a tourist visiting Milan for the first time, August is not going to be so great. Not only are many of the hotels closed for the first 3 weeks or so of August, but a number of restaurants are also closed whilst the chefs and waiters go on holiday back to their home towns scattered throughout Italy. With a little local knowledge, or a sense of adventure, there are still plenty of places open where you can eat wonderful food though. You will just have to work at it a little – or better still, ask a local. You can tell the locals by their dress sense of course – after all, this IS Milan.