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Favorite Summer Tradition

…for me is, of course, annual trips to Italy! This post is a throwback to the Italian trip of the summer 2017. Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetBack in the days I would spend whole summers mostly in Italy, only leaving for 2-4 weeks for somewhere else. The main reason, other than unconditional love for Italy, would be to practice the language. But now I speak decent Italian and from last summer on have been trying to broaden horizons and travel outside my favorite country more, as well as start learning some other language. Spanish was chosen to be the next one, as you remember from my 2016 summer trip to Cuba and Mexico.

Nevertheless, a trip to Italy is a must-do for me every summer as well as every winter, as Italy is not only the best way to spend hot days for me, but the most desired snowboarding destination, too. What a country!

My summer vacation this year started exactly like the one last year, by the way: we made a road-trip to Milan and then hit couple more places, including a lake. Trip with the girls last year was awesome, so why not do it again, we thought? We were different team this time, but it was just as great! I am so happy I bring all my friends to Milan and to my most beloved city of Italy – Florence. Last year I went there with my Australian friend, but this time we managed to include Florence in the road trip plan right away.

Four days in my favorite country to begin with – what can be a better kick off for the summer?! It’s gonna be a great one, I know! This time I don’t want to heap this post up with must-eat’s, as everything is a must-eat for me in Italy. So, let’s skip my usual approach to travel notes which always includes tips for restaurants, bars and view decks, and I will just leave couple pics here to remember how great this trip was. There is no need to prove that everything is worth tasting and seeing there 😉

Last year’s memories of the times when I studied at Bocconi together with breakfasts at my beloved eat me & go; nights at Aperol terrace dancing like crazy above Duomo Square and parking for free as if we were always locals there

Next stop – my one and only Florence. The voice announcing trains on the station still gives me shivers of the memories from those times when I used to come to that station anxious and happy; narrow streets every single one of which I still remember as if I had spent my childhood there; favorite bar La Petite where it all started 3 years ago; leather market and the “don’t let him take you to the big shop, it’s a forbidden experience!” from Sex&The City; risotto ai porcini and the view on Duomo cupola in the sun dawn.

I was the happiest there, in Florence. I am happy now, too. Just differently happy. More mature or more cynically happy, which is by no chance a measure of less happiness; just the difference. The time when I was happy in Florence was most likely the last one, when I was happy as a child. Now I am actually happy for the first time since then, since that other “happy”. Now it’s a grown-up happy. The concentration of the word happy in this paragraph must exceed the use of this term in my whole blog.

Away from redundant revelations: our final stop on the way back to Austria was at Garda lake. Last year we went to Como, and our horrifying experience with running out of gas on a mountain road was the most stressful memory until we ran out of gas on a highway on the way to Croatia recently :-/ Life doesn’t teach us much, I know! But the lake was nevertheless so beautiful that this time we decided we absolutely need views like that again. We chose Garda because had only been there in spring time before. It is absolutely amazing in summer, too! 

I claimed I wouldn’t give any advice now, but just one, please: go somewhere around Salò when visiting Garda: no tourists, perfectly quiet and beautiful. Felt like the air itself has its sound there. Loved it!

This year I was driving back with the gang, too. Last time I stayed in Milan due to the start of my studies there, and this year I was initially planning to stay in Italy until my flight to Spain. But at the very last moment things twisted around and I went back with the girls which was a good decision: the views on the drive back are breathtaking!

After our nice Italian days I came back to Vienna, which I never do in summer. I guess I am starting to feel completely at home there, if I actually want to be there even during my time off. Spending 5 additional days with my boyfriend before leaving for longer holidays felt very good. Now I am already away again, for this summer I moved to Barcelona. But about that – later 😉

Have great summer holidays, everyone!

Beso


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Bocconi

LUm2g1MgnI4Earlier this summer I was lucky enough to complete the summer course at Università Bocconi – a private university of Milan, a very respected one in Italy and one of the best ones in Europe.

I completed an «Economics of European Union» course but the university offers several more as Luxury management, Fashion management, Venture capital, Sports management, etc. The intense courses are offered in June and February. However, make sure to attempt to enter during the application period that is much earlier. The results are usually published ca. 1,5 months before the courses start. One can find everything concerning the application procedure on the Bocconi website.

The university itself is amazing. Well, it’s obvious that once you pay for education – you feel that you are a part of the private school now. Prosciutto, cheeses and croissants served for breakfast. Restaurant menu for lunch (yes, I start with the most important part of the experience). Modern campus, extremely friendly stuff that really helps. In my university you have to figure everything out yourself which is sometimes very tricky with all the bureaucracy procedures. At Bocconi they will make sure you know where and when to go, you feel comfortable and welcomed, you ain’t hungry and you are indeed interested in what the university offers.
The professors are jewels. I was doing a course with Stefano Riela and can say that he is really professional in teaching. Not that he is just a smart economist but he also knows very well how to treat his audience that way that the material is going to be absorbed by anyone.
We all had very different background there. Australia, China, Malaysia, EU countries, Great Britain and the States and many more. Naturally that means diverse levels of knowledge about the EU. Stefano managed to give it to everyone, have everyone interested, asking questions and participating.
We had group work as well. The main topics for research were TTIP (that I got), Brexit, Turkey as a EU candidate and Google abusive behavior using dominant position case. Imagine how interesting all four are and how much better do I understand what’s happening within the EU now, how the European Commission functions, what each country weights politically and how tight the ties in the modern society with trade areas and custom unions are. Splendid.
Other than lectures and presentations, we also had company visits. The companies differ from group to group and are related to the material of the course. We went to Mediaset, European Commission and Barkley’s. By the way, the main figures there are Bocconi graduates who enjoy keeping in touch with the university and with pleasure organize conferences with students like us. I am wishing now that I wasn’t on the plane that’s about to land and could share more about the companies now! The schedule was so tight during the course that I had absolutely no time to compose any feedback on what I was doing there. As a throwback let me just claim that I am very thankful to Bocconi for the experience. Their spirit gets you better than one of the American high school sports teams! Well-done!
Apart from studies and meeting very interesting people in companies headquarters, I also met a lot of cool guys from all over the world. Bocconi does cool things as common activities, team-building. cooking classes, aperitivo, staff dinners and all those things that make you feel a part of the big mechanism which functions only because you are a team. Last time I had this proud feeling so strong on FLEX reunions, So. Bocconi is definitely going to be an unforgettable experience for me just like FLEX has been since the very beginning 8 years ago.
And, well, having the whole terrace or cooking club rented out for you, being greeted with resect by people who have accomplished incredible things in their lives and now they treat you as even; showing your Bocconi ID card somewhere and immediately getting smiles and a lot of questions from random people around Italy – those moments make you feel special no matter how modest you are. And that’s the right way to feel once you experience something as Bocconi Summer School!
Grazie mille per tutto, l’Università Bocconi! A presto!


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Milano: kultyapka weekend

gqn7uasmyuwAnother weekend in Italy! Time flies so unbelievably fast here ahhh! This time I had the girls over: Alix from Switzerland; my Russian Lisa-love, and even Sonia made it here from Vienna after having skipped all the possible means of transportation.

Milan can be fun! It is a place to party, eat and shop. Even though I keep saying it is not real Italy for me, it is not the only necessary criteria to enjoy the weekend with friends.

We even did some sight seeing this time! I don’t get modern arts, but Novecento museum is an interesting place itself and also has a lot from the 20th century.

I am not planning on giving 1001 recommendations of where to go in Milan for food. It is so diverse, and anyone can explore it much deeper than I have (because I mostly eat at Bocconi). But there are several must-dos, I believe:

  • Get on the rooftop of La Rinascente and sit at the bar there during dusk time;
  • Walk along the Navigli, fight for a place at the bar there, eat some snacks during aperitivo time;
  • In general, do the aperitivo as often as possible! Anywhere, everywhere!
  • Try some typical restaurants. Let them be touristic, whatever. If searching for something not fat from the centre, I’d go for Signorvino or Pane e vino;
  • Reserve a table in advance, better via phone. Learn some phrases in Italian – it’s easy but will gradually change the quality of any experience you get in Italy;
  • Drink local drinks. Negroni, Sbagliato, Aperol- and Campari-based cocktails. It a cultural thing to do;
  • Remember about siesta! Even in Milan, the most operative city of Italy, still forget about getting proper restaurant food before 7 p.m. So, do aperitivi and the buffet, you don’t have much choice; better avoid the places that promise to serve full meals during siesta – it will most likely be bad quality. If you are in a real urge to eat properly – chose only international places. Local chefs won’t cook anything decent before dinner time, just get it;
  • Brera district. Make sure to walk around, look up on the architecture and stop for food and drinks there;
  • Search for rooftop terraces. Duomo 21, Campari, Armani, Aperol, whatever you can find;
  • Don’t be afraid of fancy places. Prices on drinks don’t differ that much. The only thing is, if you go to clubs like Old Fashion – you are likely to pay 20 euros for entrance;
  • Visit the cathedrals. They are not all the same here like in mosth of the Catholic world. Italy is very rich with history. Watch documental movies, read about local famous influential families (like Medici in Florence or Sforza in Milan), search for some of their heritage in the city;
  • Walk a lot. Just walk anywhere. San Lorenzo, Brera, Center, Corso Como at night, the channel – wherever.
  • For good Asian – Corso di Porta Ticinese. For the best Asian – Finger’s Garden;

I could come up with several more pieces of advice, but I really wish all who ever visits Milan to explore the city themselves! Like we did with the girls.

 

After the weekend in a hot city me and Lisa decided to leave Milan for some lakeside. We chose the town of Lecco on the Como lake. A very quiet and cute place with yachts, Aperol Spritz on every table and Sunday markets. There is also a campsite nearby where one can swim in the lake – just drive or take a train to the next station – Lecco Maggianoco.

Thank you for the visit, girls! See you soon in Vienna 😉


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Roadtrip: Vienna-Milano-Como

Ciao!

First 10 days in Milano went so unbelievably fast! I am done with week 1 of the Bocconi course and I can already describe is at quite intense and challenging from time to time but at the same time indeed interesting. Being an economist in general turned out to be so much more exciting than the word itself sounds. I am now really happy with my choice and am thankful to my parents for their recommendations that gave me first interest for this branch.
Studying at Bocconi is not only intense but also very time consuming. We have a lot of extra curricular activities like team building events and company visits. At the end of the course I am definitely gonna describe their approach to teaching and leading students as it differs gradually from what I was used to at my home university.
But now let’s start from the very beginning! Even the way I got here was already very exciting itself. We went as a fun party crew of four people including two drivers. And we made it from Vienna to Milan! Was the first time both of us drove for such a long distance (ca. 900km) so we were a bit nervous at the beginning, of course. But all went well and in about 10 hours (2 of which we spent trying to get out of Vienna through the worst traffic I’ve ever seen there) we made it! If you know your way and don’t get stuck in traffic jams, I’d say it is quite doable in 7 hours.hfHYqr3Fy-w
The highway in Austria was surprisingly narrow, especially from Vienna to Graz. I was a bit shocked that Italian roads were in general better: more modern, wider, better quality. On some segments Austrian so-called highway looked like some suburb road leading to nearest village. There are no ticket control stations in Austria, but the police can still stop you and check if you have a valid one. In Italy there are checkpoints whenever you get on and off highway. We paid something around 40 euros to drive from Austrian-Italian border (came in through Villach-Udine road) to Milan. All the maps where I tried to build up our route were insisting that we should have driven trough Slovenia but we didn’t give it a try because I was concerned that we could have got stuck on the passport control twice as Austria technically has closed borders now. But there were no checks at all when driving in to Italy, as in good old times with completely free circulation of people within the EU. We didn’t really get stuck anywhere else rather than when attempting to leave Vienna. Not much traffic even though it was Friday. But I must admit that in Austria you really have to check mirrors every other second, the roads are not wide enough for the traffic flow. Italy was much more relaxed. I was the one who was driving most of the Italian part of the route and even in the darkness I found it quite comfortable. The only thing is the language – all info on the highway boards is given in Italian as well as the signs alerting you that there will be speed control point soon. As for radars, we are not quite sure how they work. In Austria you notice one immediately but there are almost no signs informing drivers about them. We just went with the average speed of the cars around as. Jamila said she never gets fines from Austrian highways so let’s hope we won’t get any either. As for Italy, there are radars everywhere and they are so hidden that you don’t always necessarily see it but there are signs «controllo electronico della velocità» that indicate them. However, I have noticed that not each sign means there is gonna be a radar right behind it. They probably move them around or whatever. And all the other drivers were going really fast pass those signs which made me think they are either sometimes irrelevant or people just don’t care which could also be the case in Italy. Anyway, we are gonna see if we get fined couple months later!
As for paying for Italian roads, here you need to be informed in advance how the thing works. On some short highway sectors you don’t pay for the amount of km you drive but for the fact of using the road in general. The billboards above checkpoints indicate where drivers with passes need to go and where the ones who pay with cards/cash should stop. There are also comments like «self-service» underneath so if you don’t know how the system works chose the one that has a person sitting behind the window! And know one other thing: if you chose to pay with cash and go through the self-service window, you need to have the exact amount of coins needed to pay for the road! So just be careful not to get stuck and stop all the people behind you.
As for parking, it’s quite straight forward in Italy. We knew nothing in advance so I just opened a window and asked some passing by guy how I am allowed to park in Milan and he explained it to me: yellow lines are for residents, so if you rent a car make sure to find out in which city it is registered. It may already have a long-term parking ticket or you can purchase it. Non-residents like us can park on the blue lines (they are marked with signs that tell you which hours are free of charge and during which you must pay to stop there) and somewhere nearby one finds a machine where you can purchase a parking ticket.
 It took us time to figure out some moments but in general I must say that even if you drive through Europe for the first time you will most likely have no particular difficulties.
What matters now is that we got here.35XKBk3tsz4cDPPD8RSi5sCX9vQA_2-jUe0dRYFapofkFz77830GK1AhZ9DXz2yNPcK5kv0rrMNz8MhHHS6USlLssPuIrm5658YOur weekend was fun. We ate a lot of pasta, drank wine and typical Italian drinks like Aperol Spritz, Negroni or Limoncello shots, did some shopping and sightseeing. MIlan is not my favorite city in Italy and I even say very often that it’s not Italian at all. It doesn’t have that authentic appearance and things like siesta like the other Italian cities. But if you already know what «un italiano vero» means and you are not chasing the real spirit of good old Italy but just want some good restaurants, museums, entertainments and shopping – then you will enjoy a weekend in Milan. It is good for big cities lovers like me. The girls have already been around Italy quite few times, so they just took their time to enjoy some aperitivi, views and loud city events.
On Sunday we were ready for another road trip! Lake of Como! That was actually one of the reasons why we took a decision to travel by car – to have it there for going around the lake. I know that there are some trains and buses that can take you there but believe me – experience is not gonna be the same! All the beauty of Como is not exactly in the towns surrounding it but in driving along those tricky narrow mountain roads. It is incredible. Every other turn we would try to look for a place to stop and just enjoy it.
We first drove to Como city itself, took a boat there, did some sailing around, then even got to swim in the lake that was surprisingly warm and very clean and refreshing. The only thing I would mention here for drivers: try parking somewhere in town and then walk down to the lake, don’t try to get there by car, you will just waste time looking for a parking spot. On top of that, walking along the lake shore is very nice, they have delicious gelato there!
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I was very determined to make it to two destinations and to have dinner at Bellagio. That’s where the fun started. Neither of us had tried before driving on such a narrow and curly road before. I honestly wasn’t ready for it to be THAT extreme. I have been to the Alps by car many times but there still usually two cars going in opposite directions can make it easily without stealing each other’s mirrors. Here it was much more tight. Sometimes we even had to use the horn before making a turn to make sure whoever could be coming from the other direction knows we are there. And they go so fast! People who are used to it are just so confident, it is quite challenging to keep up with them if you are not experienced in this kind of driving. When a huge bus was coming from the opposite direction I literally thought we would have to climb the rock to escape. But that is not what I call fun. We were low on gas. Very low. And being sure there must be a gas station at the city exit, we drove from Como to Bellagio. There was one, yes. We were happy to see it when the car was already completely empty. But the gas station wasn’t working. Italian surprise! Of course there was nobody fixing it either. I am just so happy that we consulted some other driver and took a decision to lose time and come back to Como… If we tried to make it to another gas station we would definitely have to evacuate the car from the mountain road as there were no more stations on the way to Bellagio and our tank was so empty that the car wouldn’t even start when we fueled it. We had to turn off AC, radio and lights and just slowly drive back trying to consume as few gas as possible. Guys, that was really stressful. Even more stress we got when came back to the tank station in Como and saw a crowd of people trying to make the machine work. It was stuck as well and it took our ability to speak many languages, a lot of patience, help from the outside and mutual human effort of everybody who was at the gas station to fuel first some German girls whose money simply got stuck and stopped the machine from working and then us. Yay! Luck! I think couple more km and we wouldn’t have made it. I am used to nothing working properly in Italy but I would really never think there would be no working gas stations around. Especially considering that we took a different route to come back to Milan and it was full of them. So just make sure you don’t travel with an empty tank like we did.
After couple hours struggling with technical issues and then driving on a roller-coaster we finally made it to Bellagio. And it was damn worth all the stress! A very beautiful town in the most impressive location on Como (check the map to know what I mean here 😉 ). Surrounded by mountains and the lake from both sides it is absolutely gorgeous in the evening sun! We enjoyed every minute of walking around and even another extreme driving experience – getting through the road that was definitely not wide anough for the car and full of people on top of that. Now Jamila is a real Italian racer! That trip was the best driving school of life. 5EXNsbvV_okCdRWRS1F4rodKpk2iFQBtYJWn--62H2C8LSHc_IcUPi8VZ4kyNNqaC0Y0coEKcp8WcYsJPyOqGWu8

All small towns keep the tradition of siesta which I absolutely love. Not being able to get any food or go shopping for half of the day never made me angry but, vice versa, makes me feel that I am in real Italy, living their life with their absolutely adorable laziness traditions. Comfort and soul satisfaction are the most important things here – and traditions like siesta kind of lead you to understanding and accepting lifestyle where no working gas stations never make anyone freak out. They just say ok, go and grab a glass of bellini instead of spending their time and energy on making things function. Most of foreigners judge that not-giving-a-shit attitude but I as a very emotional person would love to learn that from Italians. Hopefully I spend enough time in this country to obtain their attitude!
We waited until the siesta was over to get amazing food, but they actually even let us order even before the official start of dinner. Ah, lovely folk!
 So, Bellagio was very good. We drove back along another side of the lake and ended up seeing all the spectacular views from both sides of mountains. Incredibly pure beauty surrounds you there. If you stop in Lombardia or somewhere close to Lugano in Switzerland, make sure to visit the lake of Como!


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Milano: take off

Buongiorno!

A lot happening. I finished this academic year and already moved to Milano where my next step of education is hopefully going to be completed. I started my course at Bocconi University this Monday. But I will talk about this later when realize completely what is going on around. Right now I am just socializing being surrounded by more than 50 nationalities, showing people who had never been to Europe around and trying to follow lectures and get prepared for the upcoming company visits.

Last weeks in Vienna were very intense. Exams, getting my shit together before leaving for 3 months, new places, first summer parties, long nights and busy days. I will definitely soon write my traditional summary about what-and-where-to-eat/drink-in-Vienna-these-months. Long time before the trip it seemed that leaving would be hard as I have become quite attached to my city recently. But when the time has come I didn’t even have a free minute for sadness and realized that I was gone only when was already sitting in the car trying to make the traffic jam drift apart like the sea in front of Moses.

Yes, I drove to Italy this time! It was so much more fun than taking a plane/train would have been! I am so thankful to Jamila who immediately signed up for a road trip with her car when heard that I needed to move to Milano. And to Diana and Isabella who joined us with no hesitation. Such friends are precious! Driving 900km was very interesting, sometimes stressful, but that was a very good experience! And the views on our way were just incredible. So spectacular to drive through the landscapes I had already seen so many times from trains.

We spent a fun weekend together in Milano which I am gonna write about next while I am still under the impression. Girls, I love you! I didn’t laugh this much in a long time! That was a perfect arrival in Italy, release of all the stress from exams and the best buffer between studies at the same time. On top of that, we made another road trip, around the lake of Como. That was even more extreme! The first time on narrow streets of Italian villages and also a debut on hairpin turns for both of us who were driving. Now we can conquer anything! Even an empty fuel tank while going across mountain passes. 

hcpem4sb2uaDestinations around spectacular Como also deserve a separate note! Will do 😉

I would really love to summarize everything I experienced during the past extremely intense weeks! That’s the way to start summertime!

We are having team building with my colleagues at Bocconi now. And it will be cooking together! I am so much in love with Italian ways of doing business.

Anyways, thanks to the girls again for such an amazing weekend and bringing me to Milano. And welcome to Italy for the next month!73vpxrwh7o

 


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Di nuovo a Milano

И снова он, Милан. В этом году я там оказалась уже раз в пятый. То побег из Флоренции, то путь в Марокко, то поиски отеля посреди ночи, то весенняя поездка по северу Италии. Все пути лежали через Милан, где я каждый раз проводила по дню-два. Это очень странно, если вспомнить, что до этого года я не была в Милане примерно с 2005.

Я плохо знаю город, только центр, который для такого огромного города довольно маленький. Мне по-прежнему кажется, что достойных достопримечательностей в Милане не так много. Так что подруг, которые были там впервые, я направила к старой доброй галерее Виктора Эммануила и к собору. В этот раз мы поднялись туда на лифте, который в прошлые мои приезды не функционировал. Так даже не интересно.

В общем, виды те же, что и раньше. Но в этот раз они дополнились хохотом с подружайками с крыши огромного собора, вином за полкоролевства на центральной площади, шопингом (который я не осуществляла в знаменитом для этого Милане ни разу с того самого 2005 года) и прогулками под летним солнцем (я никогда не была в городе летом, а летом все приятнее).

После спуска с собора я так увлеклась вином за полкоролевства, что больше не доставала фотоаппарат. Пусть будет ссылка на прошлый пост оттуда.


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Milano

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Снова начну пост с селфеца, в этот раз уже с крыши миланского собора, на которой я встретила вчерашнее утро, по совместительству первое солнечное за весенние каникулы.

Дорога в Италию уже давно кажется мне привычной, так что опущу детские визги о красивых людях. вкусной еде, вине идеальной температуры даже в последней забегаловке, жаркой погоде и красивых городах.

Я в прошлом месяце уже побывала в Милане, но при менее приятных обстоятельствах, да и солнца мне тогда не перепало. А до этого мы ездили в этот город очень много лет назад, и тогда меня убивала жуткая аллергия. И вот, наконец, ничем не омраченный день в таком живом городе!

Самое главное “Тайную вечерю”, я уже видела, так что в этот раз я просто пошла гулять. При чем гулять не в моем понимании, 200 метров от пиццерии до дома и все, я устала; а гулять в понимании любителя ходьбы. Я прошла от центральной станции до дуомы, да еще и кругами! Метро я тоже в этот раз научилась пользоваться, кстати.

На соборной площади на меня сразу накатили воспоминания о кормежке наглых голубей и покупке любимого белого плаща, в котором я сразу же села на покрашенную лавочку, в галерее. Голуби там все те же (понятия не имею, сколько они живут, так что, может, и в буквальном смысле), попрошайки стали еще изобретательнее, а туристический сезон не в разгаре, что сделало центр очень приятным местом. Я ожидала весь свой свободный день провести в очереди на крышу собора, а попала туда за 5 минут в итоге! Она еще не была открыта для посетителей, когда мы приезжали в собор, так что для меня этот вид был новым.

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Неплохо, не так ли? Утром было самое то. Да, конечно, меня начали раздирать воспоминания, как я спозаранку карабкалась на купол флорентийского собора, но я быстро их разогнала, заслушавшись игрой вовремя подоспевшего туда оркестра.

Так как все было пусто, я сразу же смогла сесть в приятном месте и получить свой самый вкусный итальянский кофе. Из центра я решила никуда не отходить, так как больше ничего красивого в Милане не знаю. Город действительно индустриальный, промышленный; исторический центр для такого мегаполиса не очень большой, и за его пределами из красоты найдется разве что крепость. Логистические склады я уже все посмотрела из окна поезда, так что далее просто кругами ходила по всем примыкающим к соборной площади улочкам.

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Я даже набрела на университет Милана; ох и нравятся мне эти внутренние университетские дворики! Понятно, что с Венским университетом не сравнится ни один, но у соседа всегда трава зеленее.

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После ланча снова возвращаемся в галерею Виктора Эммануила II, которая собой затмевает даже расположенные внутри бутики. Я словно вчера там была!

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Милан, спасибо за чудесный день! И жаре, от которой уже розы горят, отдельная благодарность!IMG_6574

P.S.: Я на самом деле уже несколько часов в Марокко, но об этом, пожалуй, завтра! Тридцать часов мотаний между странами даже меня вымотали. Всем путешествия!