In August, Milan is quieter than usual as plenty of the Milanese people escape the summer heat either to the coast or to the mountains. This, in addition to the public holiday to celebrate the Assumption of Mary, meant that the city was deserted. Many homes and restaurants were shuttered. Nevertheless, the areas around the main tourist attractions were crowded and busy. The line to get into the Duomo stretched out into the hot sun. (It was a bit offensive to see that ladies in their summery outfits were sometimes required to cover up further with disposable bibs that had to be purchased. Another excuse to squeeze a further dollar from a tourist.)
Speaking of squeezing tourists (and locals), restaurants in Italy do not serve free tap water. Italians seem to have a distrust for the cleanliness of their tap water, which could be interpreted as a distrust in their government and authorities. Bottled water has to be purchased (at a cost to the customer and to the environment!) When we requested tap water from a waiter, he clearly understood but returned with bottled water claiming that they did not have a tap!
Beware also the cover charge (coperto), 1 to 3 Euros per person, and the “maggiorazione”, a further 1 to 3 Euros per person. The cover charge is supposed to cover napkins, cutlery etc and the “maggiorazione” is generally only charged in tourist areas as some kind of surcharge. When a pizza can cost 7 Euros, the added cost of the “coperto” and “maggiorazione” can nearly double your food bill. Italy does not have a tipping culture but these added charges really leaves diners with a sour taste after their dining experience, thereby almost eliminating their chances for a tip. To be honest, these added charges drove us away from restaurants towards bakeries, takeaways and supermarket picnic food dinners. So much for sampling the much esteemed Italian cuisine!
Strangely, the sidewalks in Milan are pockmarked or dented in very particular shapes and in only specific areas. After some deduction, it was concluded that these are from the kickstands of bicycles, scooters and in particular the heavy high powered motorcycles. It seems that the soft material that the sidewalk is constructed from is unable to withstand both the summer heat and the point force of a kickstand. Seems strange that Milan is unable to perfect their recipe for sidewalk material when plenty of other places manage to.
The main train station, Milano Centrale is an imposing building built in a fascist style for Mussolini to convey the power of the regime. The Duomo is seriously impressive and incredibly ornate. The conclusion however is that whilst Milan is worth a visit, a visit in August with the local population mostly absent and the summer heat is not the best.