Street Markets in Milan

Actually, this is all down to a colleague.

She wondered if I knew about a “very famous” (her words) street market in Milan. She gave me the address but the piazza name she gave me didn’t exist.

She can be annoying at times.

So I went on the hunt for somewhere which listed the street markets in Milan.

Everyday there is a market somewhere.

Perhaps the most ‘famous’ is Papiniano. This is on a Saturday near the canals (Navigli) and stretches up a couple of long roads. It sells clothes, mainly. Not all street markets are the same. The one near me (on a Tuesday) sells mainly fruit and veg although there are at least a couple of stalls selling the usual street market stuff (clothes, household goods, etc.).

In fact, people looking for somewhere that’s the equivalent of Primark, here, would do quite well to go to the Papiniano market, since we don’t have either a Primark or, as far as I am aware, an equivalent.

But to get a full list of what street markets are where and when could look here. It’s a comprehensive list and shows a map for nearly all of the markets.

For certain, wherever you live there will be a market somewhere, nearby on one of the days in the week.

Update May 2015: It seems the link is currently broken. Here are some alternatives, although the link above was the best a it was easier to “see” the closest market to where you were living or staying.

1. Where the original map came from. Markets are listed by zone (but you need to know which zone you are in) but no other details (other than street name given).
2. Showing some of the “best” markets, ordered by day and linking to a map.
3. All markets and shown on a map. Click on each flag to bring up details of when it’s on. (In Italian, I’m afraid).

Ristorante Delicatessen

Sunday was rather nice. We SHOULD have been with Lola and G and Orlando but the weather forecast was for a dreadful day and so a day walking with the dogs was postponed. We wait for better weather.

And the weather WAS dreadful. It rained nearly all day and was much colder – and, in spite of the ‘extra hour in bed’ I didn’t sleep so well.

However, a couple who were friends of F & S and have a baby came from where they live (Lake Como) to Milan for lunch.

F booked a place about an hour before they arrived.

Every morning I go, by car, to work, along Viale Tunisia. And, although I am aware this place exists (because An, a friend, works nearby and swears by it for a good lunch), I have never actually seen it. And I have looked (but, then, I am a man).

It is quite easy from our place – three or four tram stops and possible to walk if the weather is OK.

The place is called Delicatessen.

Now, for me, Viale Tunisia is not a particularly nice “avenue”. In fact it’s just a large and well-trafficked road, dirty and uninviting. But, sure enough, I have passed it every day.

But, I’m going to recommend it – highly recommend it.

The front looks OK but, once you get inside, it’s a completely different world. It’s been there about 18 months (or more). It is smart and clean, wood and brown. It is large and airy but also warm and cosy. In short, a rather nice place.

The staff are excellent. We had a 19-month-old baby in our party. But nothing was too much trouble. First they got a high chair, then a rocking horse, then, when he went running off, they were there to look after him. That’s not to say that they didn’t look after us too! They were attentive, serving the wine when it needed to be served, explaining the dishes, etc., etc.

The food is from Alto Adige – in the Alpine region of South Tyrol. This is a region of Italy where nearly 70% of the population speak German as their first language, even if it is part of Italy. One of the specialities of the area is speck, my favourite cured ham. And, sure enough, the menu (with German then Italian descriptions, as one would expect) is littered with dishes containing speck.

So I had speck with gherkins to start. It was lovely. F had a selection of meats and cheeses (and that meant I had some of that too, since he doesn’t eat meat with too much fat :-D ).

My main course was lamb. Like a crown roast, with ratatouille and a side dish of potatoes with cheese (hot). The lamb was perfect – not overcooked and VERY tasty. We shared sweets but, to be honest, my choice of grape strudel was the best.

OK, so the prices were quite high – €8-12 for a starter, €10-15 for the pasta course and €23+ for the mains – it was pricey but the food was plentiful and tasty and I didn’t need anything to eat for the rest of the day!

So, place – 4 stars, staff – 5 stars and food – 5 stars!

Wonderful place. Do go if you live or come to Milan.

Slight renovations

It is approaching Christmas and, as usual, the house will require a complete clean.

Not from my point of view, you understand?

However, it is nearly time.

This year will be slightly different as, before the ‘Chirstmas clean’ comes a new and unexpected twist.

Apparently a clean will not suffice. This year it has also to be painted.

I may have mentioned this in the past, but DIY is NOT my thing. I do my best but changing a light bulb is a bit of challenge.

OK, so maybe I have exaggerated slightly – but when it comes to painting, there are two things that are guaranteed:

a) however careful I am, the finished painting will have runs. I am unable to fathom out how to paint without it running. And, trust me, I have tried and on more than one occasion.

b) there will be more paint on me than the walls/ceiling/wherever.

I have explained a). F said that he will do it – and he’s quite excited about it. Still, I am filled with dread. It means opening windows, the smell of paint, the mess. For me, the ideal way is to do this when I am away – someone comes in, does it all and I come back with everything done and complete.

It seems that, as this ‘weekend’ is a long weekend (from Thursday through to Sunday), it is the perfect time to do it.

I’m not really looking forward to it – but I suppose it’s better that, at least, I am not expected to actually hold a paintbrush!

Still, you can wish me luck, if you like?


Well, here we are, near the end of October and having had some of the most unseasonable weather – in that, it has been quite warm and little rain.

Certainly, this year, the heating came on before I got seriously cold at home.

But, according to the forecast, this is set to change on Sunday.

Already, today, we have rain.

Tomorrow, we have more rain (but not as much as today).

Sunday we have even more rain and the temperature is set to drop to a maximum of 7°C (with a minimum, on Monday and Tuesday mornings, of 1°C). Time to get out jumpers and warm socks and coats and stuff.

With any luck, there will be just 4 months of this, with things improving in February.

I should be like a bear and hibernate. Or like a bird and fly south.

No, I think hibernation is best. Waking up when it’s nice. Sounds good to me.

How to lose customers.

When is buying a book not actually buying a book?

You may think this is a trick question but it’s not really. The answer is, of course, when you rent it.

Rent a book? Are you crazy?

Well, yes and no. I mean, one can go into a library and borrow a book – but that’s not really the same as renting it as, unless you are late returning it, you don’t pay to do this.

For renting, however, you must pay.

But, I hear you ask, why the hell would you only rent it? Books aren’t like cars or something, they don’t cost a lot of money anyway.

Which is true. However, in this case, it’s all to do with public perception.

Ebooks can be downloaded on your tablet or Kindle and read. But, if you buy them from Amazon (or from anywhere else where they are DRM protected) you are, in fact, not buying them at all but only renting them – and only for as long as the retailer will allow you to rent it.

So, you pay for a ‘book’ that you don’t, in fact, own. Seems stupid, doesn’t it?

Well, yes, to me it seems beyond stupid.

But, reading all about this woman’s experience has made me decide two things:

1. I won’t be buying a Kindle or ebooks.
2. I think I’ll stop using Amazon all together!

I have, in the past, bought quite a lot of stuff from but now I won’t be doing that.

In any event, I really do like proper books made of paper and also Amazon treat the writers/publishers like shit too. It seems they don’t reserve their shitiness only for their customers.

Ah well, that’ll be another customer lost then.

Some short stories to bring a smile to your face for a Friday

David Sedaris is a very funny man.

Someone (AfC, I think) lent me one of his books. They are ordinary stories of him and his family but always funny.

Anyway, you can enjoy some of these short stories here.

But the bit that had me really laughing was:

A week after putting her to sleep, I received Neil’s ashes in a forest-green can. She’d never expressed any great interest in the outdoors, so I scattered her remains on the carpet and then vacuumed them up.


Expat? Immigrant?

There was a tweet, recently, relating to an old Guardian piece about the fact that an Indian guys didn’t feel he could be considered an expat.

Of course, it depends on your audience.

If, as an immigrant to Italy, I wrote a piece in an Italian newspaper, I could hardly call myself an expat since a) I am NOT Italian and b) I have not moved out of Italy.

For me it’s a matter of simplicity. Here, I am an immigrant – unless and except when I am talking to other English/American/Canadians here. When I talk to them I am an expat. They are expats too.

However, when I’m with Italians, as, in fact, I have done in the past, I point out that I, too, am an immigrant.

This is usually when they are complaining about the numbers of immigrants here.

It’s interesting that when I point out that I am also an immigrant, they usually respond with something like “Ah, but you’re different.”

What they mean, of course, is that, even if I can’t speak the language (whereas many immigrants can); even if I look different from the majority of Italians (with my blue eyes); even if I act differently (like being more courteous), I am OK because I am white and English and their friend.

As opposed to black or brown, non-European and selling roses or trinkets or working in a kitchen in a restaurant.

But I am mindful that I remain and will always be, an immigrant here.

I am from one of the current EU countries and so I have some “right” to be here – but, I guess, I could also be shipped back to the UK should the authorities deem it necessary.

Here, I have no roots; no “original” place to go to. And so it was true of the Indian writing the Guardian article. So, speaking to a British audience, he was always going to be an immigrant and not an expat.

I don’t think it’s that difficult an idea to grasp?

Some things just don’t fit, do they?

I remember coming to Milan many years ago, probably the second time, staying at the Antica Locanda Solferino,* and walking from there to somewhere and chancing upon a McDonald’s.

Here we were, staying in one of the areas that retains the oldest buildings in Milan, in a city that is in a country where “fast food” – e.g. a slice of pizza – is always available, permitting a company that puts a tasteless piece of cardboard (called a burger by them) between two bits of soggy, over-processed bread buns, with some bits of highly-sugared/salted extras to mask any tastelessness and calls it food, the chance to sell their rubbish (or “poison” as I call it).

Oh, yes, I don’t really like McDonald’s.

I was, frankly, both shocked and saddened. But, I thought to myself, surely Italians don’t actually go for it? I mean, compared to a slice of pizza or foccacia, there is no contest.

But this was in a slightly out-of-the-way area. It closed within a few years. Yay!

Imagine, if you will, one of the prettiest places in Milan – the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, just across from the Duomo, the place that leads from the Duomo (Cathedral) to the famous opera house, La Scala.

The picture doesn’t do it justice at all. You have to be there to see the beauty of it. Of course, being the main way to get from the Duomo to La Scala it is almost always full of tourists. At Christmas they usually have an installation, e.g. a HUGE Christmas tree, done by Swarovski, so full of glass ornaments that catch the light in such wondrous ways. The glass ceiling is wonderful; the murals, high above the ground, marvellous; the floor itself, beautiful – and it’s full of shops (high-end, of course – Prada, etc.) and elegant, old-time cafés. One can imagine it has hardly changed since 1877, when it was finished.

Of course, the cafés are over-priced. But to sit there, under the glass ceiling, protected from the cold or heat (depending on the season) is one of those ‘must do’ things for a tourist.

So, given my hatred of McDonald’s, I was truly shocked to see a McDonald’s there, right in the centre of the arcade. Worse still, people used it!

OK, so it wasn’t the usual garish McDonald’s with the over-sized M but, still …….

However, it is no more. The other day they were giving away free burgers as they are closing up and moving on. And hurrah for that, I say!

As you can see above, it almost blended in – but to me, in this land that prides itself on its food and flair, McDonald’s is an antithesis. C’mon, you cannot disagree?

Now it will be replaced by Prada. Anyway, there are enough cafés there.

It’s a shame they don’t replace all the other McDonald’s in Italy with something else.

My thanks to the Guardian for the story and the picture of McDonald’s.

* p.s. The Antica Locanda Solferino is quite a wonderful place to stay. A short walk from the centre of town, the rooms (that I’ve stayed in) are very large and comfortable. They do B&B but the breakfast is served in your room as there is (well, was), no dining room. One of the strangest things (a little disconcerting) is (was) that there are (were) no locks on the doors to the bedrooms! But in all the years we stayed there, we never had any problem. It was a wonderful, quirky hotel and I have recommended it to others. Not cheap but if you don’t want the standard hotel with the standard room, this is for you.

p.p.s I even put the tag “Food” against this post – even if it pained me to do so.

At long, long, last!


I suppose everyone does this, don’t they?

I look back at the very few photographs I have and think that, actually, I was quite good looking. By which, I mean that, at the time, I didn’t realise it or I thought that, whereas not downright ugly, I was not “all that”.

And, of course, at that moment, what I thought looked really cool, actually may not have looked that good. But looking back at these phtographs, I realise that, actually, I was quite good looking and I wish I had known that then, at that time and, better, had done something with it.

But, physically, my ideas of how I looked are NOT the same as the reality.

For example, for many, many years, in my head, I had a button nose. Even when I looked in the mirror, that’s what I saw. I hated this button nose. I wanted a long one, perhaps more of a Roman one. In fact, I would spend time pulling my nose down and out as I really hated this button nose.

It wasn’t until I mentioned it one time in company that I was put straight about this thing. I didn’t have, and never had had, such a thing as a button nose.

Now, although I realise this to be true, my mind plays tricks on me and, occasionally, I still think of it as a button nose. Which, even as I think about it, I know not to be true – like now, when I’m writing this. Still, in my head (at this moment), I think of it as short, stubby abd turned up.

The other thing that’s important to me, as far as physical looks go, is my hair. This has been so every since I can remember. At 12 I was telling my parents that “everyone has long hair at school, and I want long hair too”. Really! I only “saw” long hair on other kids but now, I realise, this cannot have been true.

My hair has always been ‘important’ to me. When I was about 17 or so was the ‘best time’ (apart from the other best times, of course). In reverse order, I’ve had very short and natural grey, very short and not-natural, almost-black, slightly longer and black, shortish and natural, longish and natural, spikey and long and blonde, normal and natural, long almost to my waist and natural, longish, just past shoulder-length and natural (the ‘best one’), spikey and sometimes blue and before that I don’t remember.

But, since F convinced me to stop dying my hair (and I ended up with the first one in the above list), I haven’t been entirely happy. So, since the summer before last, I grew it.

In my head, it reminds me of the ‘best’ one from when I was 17.

In the mirror, I see a head full of hair, longish flowing locks, nearly as it should be – but not quite.

And then I see photos of myself now. It looks quite dreadful. In the photo. In the mirror (and my head) it looks nothing like that. I picture myself as I was at 17, just back from holiday, brown, with these flowing locks and looking really good.

And, even if I know that the camera doesn’t lie, I still think that it does. Or, at least, it distorts. Maybe it wasn’t a good day? Maybe it was a little windy?

And my hair is thinner now. I know this for if I put a mirror to show me the back of my head, you can see I’m going a bit bald. Except I was thinking that about 20 years ago. It just never really quite happened! But I am certain it’s much thinner than it was and the almost-bald-patch is now almoster bald.

So, where were we?

Ah, yes. So, in my head and when I look at myself in a mirror, I am almost the same as when I was 17. Except I’m not, of course.

And I started growing it because I wanted a style. Some sort of style but I wasn’t sure what. I thought: if I grow it I can choose what to have. Except, after almost a couple of years I’m no closer to making a decision.

And, even if I’ve asked F for his advice, I get nothing from him. And I’ve been wanting him to suggest something or say something but I could solicit nothing.

Until last night.

For our anniversary, as normal, I came with a last-minute idea for a present. The present was one of those digital picture frames. I’ve always thought they were a bit of a waste of time but, you know, when you have little idea of what to buy, it came in a flash that this might be something he would like, being keen on photography and all.

And, it turns out, it was a great choice. He loves it. And so he spent a long time putting over 300 photos on it which he brought over last night to show me. Of course, they are 300+ photos of the dogs!

But in some of them, there is him or me (with the dogs).

One came up of me the summer before last, when we were on holiday in Umbria, just before I started growing my hair.

“You should cut your hair,” he says, when he sees it. “Short hair makes you look younger.” I tell him that I am very happy that he is making some comment. And I AM very happy. It’s just not quite the comment that I want.

Sure, I want to look younger.

I’m not that bothered about looking younger.

Maybe he WANTS me to look younger? Maybe he thinks that I look much older now? I want to do what he wants. I don’t care about being younger or older and, yet, …… I do care on some level.

Later I suggest that I need a style and should he see something, to tell me. His response was “It’s too thin.” He means, of course, go and get it cut, really short, all over – like it was.

In my head, of course, it’s not at all THAT thin. I reply that it’s been like this for years and years.

But he’s right, of course. He suggests that maybe I can keep it like this for the winter and get it cut in the spring. He doesn’t really think that, of course. He’s just saying that. Maybe my face said too much?

Of course, this isn’t really what I want to hear but, in his way, he’s being nice whilst being quite direct. This idea I had that I have hair like I was 17 or, even, that I had almost convinced myself that I look like some old, eccentric, English professor should be banished from my brain. Should be but it’s very difficult to do.

And, although I absolutely HATE the idea of not having a choice any more, he is, of course, quite right. And I am so glad that he’s finally said SOMETHING!

Now all I have to do is to summon up the courage to go and get it done! This is not easy for me and will take me some time and then I have to choose somewhere to have it done. This, too, is quite difficult. I have to pick the right place. I remember when I went from waist-length to quite short, when I first went to work. It was almost the most excruciatingly painful thing I had ever done (not physically but mentally). I can only imagine how Samson must have felt. This will be the same.

I am convinced that no one else has this problem (the pain of having one’s hair cut). For no one else does it seem such a big deal. I don’t even know why it is for me. It’s just weird! It’s the stuff in my head …. again!

Or, maybe I CAN find a style ………..?????

25 Years Ago

25 years ago tomorrow morning, England was closed. Or, at least it seemed like it was closed to us.

It was during my year-long or so stint in Germany. Every week I would travel there (usually on a Sunday or Monday evening), travelling back three or four days later. It was exhausting.

My job was as a consultant to Ford and we were introducing a new system to one of their suppliers. Sometimes I would be alone but this particular time, I was with some other people from Ford – or at least one person, AA.

When we got into work on the 16th, we, as normal, tried to contact colleagues. The phones rang out but no one answered.

We joked that England was closed.

What we didn’t know was that, for the South East at least, it almost was.

The great storm of 1987 meant that many people didn’t get into work and many had no electricity.

Was it really 25 years ago? Half a lifetime (more or less)!