Halfway through the trip we spent a ridiculously brief time in Milan, with the sole purpose of our presence in that city being that we needed to catch the overnight train to Barcelona from either there or Rome, and Milan was closer to Florence, where we had come from.
But I felt like it would be rude not to mention Milan, especially since in the three hours we were there I think I basically managed to ensure we'd never be invited back, at least not to that huge open-air shopping center that's right across the street from the Duomo.
You see, on one end of the shopping center, there's the Duomo, and on the other side, there's a fountain with some nice benches for, say, resting in the middle of a 6-city, 13-day whirlwind tour of Europe. Hypothetically.
We'd been told that the Duomo was the one thing to see if we only had three hours in Milan, so when we arrived, we hopped on the metro and came up in the plaza immediately adjacent, took some photos, and then.....sort of shuffled back and forth staring at each other waiting for inspiration to strike.
So we wandered through the shopping center, which in case you are wondering, is THE place to be if you have a ridiculous amount of money to spend on things you don't really need that have labels with ridiculous names on them. In short, it was shopping high-society style, and needless to say the three backpackers from Indiana weren't going to be doing much spending there.
And on the other side we found the aforementioned fountain with the nice benches. Younger Brother and Traveling Companion settled down with books, and I relaxed in the sun for a few minutes, then decided to leave them (and my backpack) there and take in the Duomo.
Which was lovely. Go, if you go to Milan.
I spent about 30 minutes inside the niiiiice, daaaaark, cooooool cathedral and exited reluctantly back into the humid, sunny afternoon.
And that's when I saw the gelato cart.
If you know me, you'll already know that there was no question at this point, it was just a matter of digging out some cash.
If you don't know me, there was no question at this point, it was just a matter of digging out some cash.
I figured the boys would enjoy gelato as well, and as it was REALLY REALLY frozen solid, I felt that I could carry the three cones safely across the small street, through the 100 yards or so of the open-air-shopping mall, and to the fountain.
Within the first three steps, the cones began to sweat. And then they began to trickle. And then they began to melt.
Seriously, the townsfolk of Pompeii had more reaction time when the volcanoes started erupting than I did when those three cones started doing the same.
So I did the only thing there was to do, really.
I tucked my head down, mushed the three cones together in the hopes that they would support each other like little Leaning Towers O' Melting Gelato, took a deep breath, and lit out for that fountain like my life depended on it.
I should mention at this point that I've been using the term open-air shopping center rather loosely in this post, thus far.
Because it was far nicer than what you're picturing.
I'm pretty sure that they frown upon women in blue cotton dresses from Old Navy blitzing down the main corridor, melting gelato running in rivulets down their hands and arms, wearing the kind of panicked expression that one wears when you realize that 100 yards may seem like not much but is actually a REALLY REALLY LONG WAY AWAYand that you are in real, immediate danger of losing all 7 euros worth of rapidly disintegrating sugary goodness right down the front of your dress.
In the end, I made it out to the boys with all three cones relatively intact, though I will say that most two-year olds eating gelato don't fare as badly as I did, wearing-ice-cream-wise. My hands were a mess, my arms had streaks of gelato all the way to my elbows, my feet had drops dotting them, and even my dress bore the brunt of a couple errant dabs, not to mention the couple strands of hair that had dragged through one of the cones during my panicked flight.
And if/when I ever go back to Italy, the first word I'm learning is "Bowl."