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Dream of Italy


Milan -- A Local Woman's Point-of-View


Eating out in Milan...

Strange as it may sound, although Milan has the feel of a very cosmopolitan city, restaurants are still not used to the idea of women eating alone. That said, a girl gets hungry and, sooner or later, they will get with the programme.

Meal times...
The one thing to remember, though, is "meal times". To be on the safe side, let's say these are 1:00-2:30 pm, and then 8:00 -10:00 pm. However, so many places are family run that, if the evening is a bit slow, they might decide to call it a day earlier than scheduled. And, if you peep into a restaurant at about 7:00 pm and see a a tableful of guys and perhaps one woman eating steadily, don't go in. That's the staff fueling up before the official opening. A very encouraging sign, however: they obviously eat on the premises!

Between meal times...
If you get peckish outside "official" mealtimes, try one of the bigger bars. They may well have some sandwiches left over from lunch, or they might be able to make you one. Otherwise, opt for the Italian between-meals solution: cappuccino and brioche. If you go into a bar mid-afternoon and find lots of little delicacies, such as chips and nuts, laid out, this is for the aperitivo. This may be another way of bridging-that-gap when all you want is a nibble before dinner. The big no-no is to grab a handful if you are only having a coffee. Remember, when in Milan, do as the milanesi do!

Some restaurant suggestions...
Restaurants abound in Milan, of course. Pizza is, clearly, an easy option. There are lots of these around so I will give you just one suggestion. A few metres from the Duomo, try la Dogana, at 3 Via Dogana (, closed Mondays.

Here are a couple of great places for lunch, centre of town, cheap and cheerful, where the local office-workers eat. Be prepared to go with the flow.

The Bottiglieria in Via Cerva is packed with office workers from 12:30 to about 2:30 pm. Go late, about 2:00 pm if you don't want to wait in line. There is a two-course set menu at about 13euro, or a la carte. Quick, attentive service, brisk without being brusque. It gets very noisy, so at least once during the session, the owner/waiter will "shush" everyone. It works.

In the area around Via Torino, there is the Bistrot, which is part of the bar on the corner of Via Amedei and Via Fieno. Cheap and cheerful would be the way to describe it. A plate of pasta, a dish of freshly-cooked green beans, and a beer for about 8 Euro is pretty good value, you must admit. The people running it are very pleasant. OK, so it is self-service, but forget university canteens. Try it, from about 12:30 - 2:30 pm Monday to Friday. Busy until about 2:00 pm, and for the whole of the Friday session, when fish is on the menu and it is scrumptious!

While we are on the subject of quick, inexpensive meals with little fuss, the Autogrill self-service restaurants -- one of which you will find in the Piazza del Duomo -- are not at all bad. If nothing else, they are open daily, for both lunch and dinner. The idea might take a little getting used to, you take your tray, and your cutlery, and then proceed to the various counters and choose your food. Has a self-service cafeteria ever been like this before? In a word, no.

For dinner, try Alto Pascio, a Tuscan place in Via Fara which is convenient if you are meeting someone from the central station, or you are having dinner before seeing someone off at the central station or are staying, or have guests staying, at the Gallia. Otherwise it is a bit out-of-the-way. The prices seem on the high side but the portions are plentiful. The address is: Via Fara 17, tel: 02 6702458, closed Saturday and Sunday lunch.

For Sicilian specialities, the trattoria Ottimofiore at 26 Via Bramante, just by Via Sarpi, is great. It can be quite hard to get reservations and the owner is a little bit "funny" at times, but the food is worth it (closed Sundays, tel: 02 33101224).

I hope that this advice is a help to all other Journeywoman travelling to my part of the world.

Journeywoman travels the rails...

Evelyn Hannon, JW Editor writes:
On my most recent research trip to Italy, I visited Milan, Florence, Venice, Genoa and lots of lovely small towns in between. I did all of my travelling by train and used an Italy Flexi Rail Card from Rail Europe. This particular pass (which I arranged for prior to leaving home) is truly flexible. It allows for either 4, 8, or 12 days unlimited train travel in Italy in a one month period.

What I enjoyed most about this pass was that I avoided long lines at ticket counters. I could simply hop on and off the train at will. The only times I had to pay an additional fee was when I chose to reserve a seat on busy routes or if a fast train required a supplement. I didn't sleep on the train this time but if I did, my couchette would have been an extra cost as well.

For this Journeywoman with incurable wonderlust, there was also a fabulous sense of freedom about using one of these train passes. I could look at a map in the morning and say, "I think I'll go there for the day." Then off I went, carrying only my small day pack exploring towns and villages at will. In the evening I'd hop the train home, back to my hotel room where I'd picnic on specialties purchased from the places I visited that day. Heaven!

P.S. There are now oodles of different types of train passes available for travel throughout Europe. Imagine 17 different countries -- a railnetwork of no less than 240,000 kilometers or a whopping 160,000 miles to choose from.

Rail EuropeFor further information please consult the website to figure out which railpass best suits your travel dates and itineraries.

Back to Girltalk Italy...

The articles in GIRLTALK Italy have been independently researched by Journeywoman Online. We thank the Italian Government Tourist Board and Air France for sponsoring this female-friendly information. Together it is our aim to inspire women to visit Italy and to travel safely and well.

P.S. Did you know that Charles-de-Gaulle's airport in Paris is Air France's hub? And from Paris, Air France can connect you to 10 Italian cities!

Italian Tourist Board
Air France







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