Fashion capital and August ghost town. At first I thought I booked a quiet neighborhood, but after traipsing across the whole city this weekend and hardly seeing a soul, I learned that Italy really does take a vacation for the month of August. Aside from the Duomo, the sights were tourist free and the streets were resident free. The stores were mostly closed and the restaurants had a 20% open rate. It was eerie to behold.
The system for buying tickets to the Duomo was frustrating enough to make us want to buy tickets out of Italy. The line to enter the cathedral had a sign pointing to a ticket office around the corner. We waited in a line that stretched out the building to arrive at a ticket machine with a sales agent. It turns out that this first machine was like a deli counter numbering system and that the agent’s job was solely to help us tear that ticket free from the machine. This number would be called when it was our turn to buy a ticket. When our number approached, we were directed to wait in a line for a separate set of machines where we could finally purchase a 3 Euro ticket. The only useful line and ticket machine was the final one! Thankfully they do not organize their train stations like they do their monuments.
Once we had the necessary tickets, we waited in the entrance line to clear security and enter. After St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, the Duomo is the most impressive cathedral I have seen. It has over 3,000 statues and the inside is nothing like the pink and white marbled spires on the outside.
After all the hills we have hiked the past week, it was nice to do our 14-mile day in a flat city. From the cemetery to the castles, canals, cemetery and of course the cathedral (Duomo), the winding streets were filled with fancy storefronts and graffiti.
We cooked our own dinners for the past few nights. The hostel kitchen had two burners and a refrigerator so we bought local pasta and cooked it with vegetables. We made pumpkin ravioli, prosciutto tortellini and gnocchi.