Back in Milan now and at the first hint of a (semi) blue sky I decided to do some sightseeing. First stop – Sforza Castle. I hadn’t a clue what to expect but had heard it was a famous sight and had a big park behind it so I took the metro and went to meet a new friend by the fountain at the front.
It was very impressive, actually I think the fountain was my favourite part. It was very relaxing sitting and watching people go by. At this time of year there are not so many tourists which means that the men who hassle them to buy bracelets and selfie sticks are pretty bored and I ended up speaking to a few as I waited for my friend to arrive.
Top tip number 1 – Never accept a bracelet as a “gift” from one of these guys, they can be very pushy, even placing them on your arms if you are too slow to move out of the way. They may be “gifts” but they are not free, and once you have accepted they require payment. I heard of someone paying €7 for one once, for basically a friendship bracelet that would have taken you a couple of minutes to make in primary school.
Top tip number 2 – If you tell these people that you live in the city, they seem to stop hassling you and are happier to have a normal conversation. I spoke to one about his decision to move to Italy from Senegal, and another, from Pakistan, about cricket (I don’t know anything about cricket but he was very enthusiastic).
It is sometimes annoying to be hassled, especially in the peak summer season when the streets are super busy and like me you are just trying to find your way out of the crowds, but these people are working. They are trying to earn a living like anyone else and they seem to have found that this way works, goodness knows how, and so they do it. You just have to be firm with them, polite, but firm.
Anyway, once my friend arrived we had a lovely walk through the Castle and adjoining Sempione Park, then along Corso Garibaldi to an awesome supermarket/food court hybrid called Eataly (100% recommend), where I was unfortunately too excited by everything on offer to take photos, and where we ate gelato and piadinas, in that order. I will be back, with the excuse of taking photos, but with the agenda of stuffing my face 🙂