Milano (not the cookie)

The courtyard leading to the canals.

The courtyard leading to the canals.

Italy, Day 3

(Spoiler Alert! You might want to start with Day 1 to follow this trip from the beginning...)

We set our alarms for 7am but, instead, woke to 7 glorious church bells coming in from the open skylights. It was at that moment that I suddenly remembered growing up with the sound of church bells signaling mass. I felt as though I could even remember the village whistle blowing at Noon each day. Ah, the Old Country...

At 7:30am the bells returned with 7 1/2 more chimes. Then, a quarter to eight, they unleashed 28 tolls. Richard later explained this was a final push to encourage mass goers to hasten their step. Yeah, that outta do it. 

We finally pulled ourselves out of bed at 11am (okay, so 7am was a "stretch goal") and threw on some sneaks for a jog along the canals. We circled the Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese during our three miles and enjoyed amazing weather as we took in the sights.

On our way back to the apartment, we stopped in a small bakery and flubbed our Italian a bit before we decided to simply point at the things we wanted and smile. We chose a super fat pistachio cannoli and a fluffy cream filled pastry. I think we amused the small, red haired woman behind the counter who later chuckled as we ran back in to get our pastry. Yup, Americano.

We stopped and ate in the shade of a large courtyard then walked back to shower. Zan snapped photos around the apartment then headed out to photograph on the street as I finished getting ready.

Buddha watches over Richard's balcony garden.

Buddha watches over Richard's balcony garden.

Richard arrived home early and took me on an impromptu tour of his neighbor Paola's art studio spanning three levels. Simply. Glorious. When Zan returned we went back out for a walk through the Porta Ticinese to the Parco delle Basiliche — an urban oasis in the heart of the city. We were stopped for directions by a young couple from Israel and felt exhilarated by our superior knowledge of Milan. Si, nessun problema.

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At 6pm we met Richard who took us to his favorite Mercarto Centrale to shop for ingredients to make us dinner. We talked with the butcher as he cut our pork fillets and even sampled some thinly sliced, cured cavallo given to us freely by a friendly butcher amused that we were Americans. As Zan was snapping his photo I realized that (1.) I just knowingly and willingly ate horse meat and (2.) thinking back to Friday's antipasto, it was not the first time. Though it tasted nothing like chicken or Burger King, I have to admit, it was pretty good.

Mercato Centrale.

Mercato Centrale.

Dinner with Richard and Luigi consisted of fresh zucchini with melted provolone and an artfully placed dollop of sauce, risotto with Italian sausage and fried pork fillets with a creamy lemon rosemary roux. When asked how to show our enjoyment of the meal, they recommended buonissimo rather than the terribly overused delizioso. Totes.

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Good music and conversation filled the air as we laughed and drank for hours. It was the perfect way to begin our adventure through Italy — Milan was much sweeter than we could have imagined.