Milano, San Siro, il Boss

The day we went to see Bruce Springsteen at San Siro Stadium, Milan. Attractions we visited in the morning, a pizza and a beer, then the finale, the Boss live.


Last meal before Boss time

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Praskipark on June 25, 2013

Walking up the steps from the exit at Lotto Metro Station in Milan, we noticed lots of Bruce Springsteen fans milling around. There was a stall set out at the top of the steps selling T shirts with the star’s face on so we knew we had come out at the right exit. The excitement was growing minute by minute but before we trundled off to look at the mighty football stadium of San Siro we decided to look around for a bite to eat. It was about three o’clock and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast and knew that the meal we were about to eat would be the last of the day. We were in the correct place, Italy, with pizza and pasta being on all menus, filling and delicious.

After a 10 minute walk around, we came upon a long tree lined avenue called Via Francesco Albani. I could see there were a couple of restaurants on this avenue intermingled amongst the stylish boutiques. The first restaurant was Trattoria Pizzeria da Peppino, it looked attractive enough with a chalk board out the front advertising the specials of the day. The door to the trattoria was open and it seemed full with people enjoying themselves. A menu board hung on the wall covered in glass so we stood and studied it. Italian menus always take me a long time to read as there are so many courses. As we pondered a young man dressed in a bright purple shirt with a long black pinafore tied around his waist asked us if we were ready to order and we said we were still thinking but he was okay with that.

Eventually, we decided to order one large pizza, Quatro Staggioni with a bowl of mixed salad. We went and sat at the metal tables outside under a shady tree. It was very humid and I couldn’t wait to order a cold glass of beer. A different waiter came this time or perhaps he was the owner of the trattoria, he looked more authorative but also a bit of a character dressed in his denims and striped braces. He placed a peach coloured cloth over the table, two really thick linen serviettes, a container filled with bread sticks and a basket of crusty bread that had been broken into pieces. A large bottle of Grapelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Firenze and a bottle of balsamic vinegar appeared on the table but no plates to put the bread on so we could soak up the olive oil and vinegar. It was good to see a bottle of olive oil on the table as this never happens in Warsaw, we always have to ask for oil and vinegar.

We gave the second chap our order and also ordered two medium jugs of beer. These cost 5 Euros each which I thought was a little steep but when they came to the table I was relieved as I was so thirsty and the beer was cooling and refreshing. Two men sat at the table next to us and it was interesting to note that they were also Bruce Springsteen fans that had met before in Milan. While I was drinking I was also doing a bit of eaves dropping. They were discussing albums and saying which their favourite tracks were, also favourite gigs.

Finally, after about a 15 minute wait the bowl of salad came to the table, followed by the pizza. The pizza was large enough for us to share. It was slightly burnt around the edges but the texture of the base was thick, crispy and once bitten into, fluffy. I loved the large, thick slices of cooked ham on the top of the pizza, what I call real ham and not thin tissue paper, synthetic ham that you get in a lot of pizza restaurants. The sliced mushroom s were fresh and not dried and I am not sure about the artichoke whether it was fresh or not but they were very tasty. After cutting the first slice I could see that the tomato base was made up from tomato pulp rather than puree and there was a decent amount of mozzarella cheese spread across the whole of the pizza. My husband said he would eat some salad before tucking into the pizza. The sald was disappointing, a huge glass bowl filled with mostly lettuce and some of the ends of the pieces of lettuce were turning brown, I picked these out and left them at the side of my plate. Other ingredients consisted of baby tomatoes, cucumber and onion. There was so much lettuce we had to cover it with oil and balsamic vinegar to make it palatable. I was first to taste the pizza, it was still hot from the oven and the cheese had melted nicely but left strings falling down when bitten into. It tasted good, not too doughy and all the ingredients were fresh. I did try some of the salad but I agreed with my husband, it wasn’t the best. We managed to finish off all of the pizza between us although I think I ate more pieces. We then had a breather, soaked up the atmosphere and watched people walk by while still listening to the conversation on the next table.

Before finishing off our beers we also finished the pieces of bread after dipping them in olive oil. We were full and knew we would last out for the duration of the concert without wanting anything else to eat or drink as we knew beer would be expensive at the stadium. The young waiter with the pinafore came back to to ask us if we had enjoyed our meal. We said, yes, and didn’t mention anything about the salad. He asked if we wanted coffee, we declined. He then asked if we were here for the Bruce Springsteen concert and we told him we were indeed and very excited about seeing him. He said his best friend who lived in Milan, was Polish and lived in Warsaw was going too as he was a huge Springsteen fan. What a small world!

We rose from our seats, other fans came out of the restaurant, the waiter wished us all a great night and as we went on our way to Bruce and San Siro I managed to overhear the man at the next table saying that he thought Bruce would perform the whole of the ‘Born in the USA’ album. You will have to read the next episode of this journal to see if he was correct.

Do I recommend the restaurant? Yes, I do as it is in a nice shady spot and they do a good pizza. By the way the toilets are Turkish style and to get to them you have to go through two saloon type doors that are really difficult to push open. You need strong muscles to open the doors. Our meals as described above came to just under 50 Euros including two beers and a basket of bread. If you don’t want the bread I should send it back as they will charge you 5 Euros for it. Service was very good and the waiters seemed friendly.

Address: Trattoria Pizzeria da Peppino
Via Francesco Albani
Metro Stop: Lotto

La Nuova Tavernetta
Via F. Albani, 41
Milan
02 4814047

The Greatest Day of my Life

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Praskipark on June 26, 2013

Fed and watered we made our way to San Siro football stadium, the cathedral of Italian football and home of Inter and AC Milan. The stadium’s real name is Stadio Giuseppe Meazza but I always know it as San Siro. We had looked at our map of Milan and decided to walk to the stadium from the Lotto Metro. We reckoned it would take about 30 minutes. We could see a trail of other people walking, all wearing T shirts with the Boss emblazoned on the front, some wore US bandanas and flags wrapped around their waists bearing the colours of Italy and USA. The atmosphere was alive and there was a real buzz out on the street. Before we reached the stadium I wanted to look out for Leonardo Da Vinci’s bronze horse statue which is at the entrance of the Piazzale dello Sport or otherwise known as the hippodrome.

We knew it was very early to arrive at the stadium at 4pm as the concert didn’t start until 8pm but I wanted to see all the fans arrive one by one and soak up the images and noise from the fans. When we reached the hippodrome I sneaked up to the entrance where there was a locked gate but I could see the massive sculpture. My husband was fascinated at the size and he had no idea that Leonardo had sculptured the horse. It sure was a beauty. Crossing over the road I saw the outline of the most famous football ground in the world. I was excited and kept doing a little jump.

Walking into the grounds of the stadium was easy enough. There were security guards and police walking around but they seemed laid back enough. Stalls were set up selling Springsteen merchandise which was an array of colour; there were food stalls stacked high with Italian breads, cheeses, fresh cooked meats, olives, cakes, it all looked very tempting but we had just eaten so declined. In one corner I could hear Bruce singing, ‘Working on a Dream’ the sound was coming from a juke box in a bar that had been set up for fans to quench their thirst before entering the stadium. I did think about a beer but thought better of it, I was eager to get into the stadium to find our seats plus I didn’t want to be queuing to go to the loo all through the concert.

Arriving at our gate, 1 Anello Verde, we were greeted with a welcome, 'Hello' in Italian and a big smile and shown through the barrier. That’s all there was to it. We were in the stadium and it was a great feeling. I ran up the stairs, I couldn’t wait to get to the top of so I could take in the view of the stage and the whole seating plan. It was amazing, the roof was open and the sunlight streamed through on to the hundreds of people who were sat in the pit relaxing, waiting for the Boss to arrive with his bunch of Merry Men. The rest of the seats were empty but I knew that in 4 hours’ time the arena would be bursting with energy and there would be a sea of waving hands.

It took a short time for us to find our exact seats as the numbering sequence wasn’t so easy to work out because you have to look at the seating plan from the bottom of the section to work out the sequence.

We made ourselves comfortable and watched people arrive. Sometimes there would be a movement on stage, a technician, fiddling with a guitar or covering the piano up with tin foil to stop the sun affecting the tuning. Whenever this happened folks in the pit went crazy, thinking the band were on stage and started running over to where the movement was. It was always a false alarm and the crowd returned quietly to their sunbathing spots. It was a lovely atmosphere, people seemed happy, sellers of popcorn and candyfloss were jumping over seats to sell their wares. It was a bit like a carnival with balloons floating around, music drifting from the PA system and Italian and American flags flying high.

Time didn’t seem to drag at all; every hour that passed the canvas filled up with more bodies, reminding me of L.S. Lowry’s paintings where there are always hundreds of small people involved whether they are stood still, walking, or talking. At the back of the pit there were beer stalls which as you can imagine were well attended, to the side of the pit were portable toilets and the queues for these were never ending. Our bar was situated outside the seating area and no matter how hot I felt I was determined not to have a drink. I had a pint of beer at the last Springsteen concert I went to in the UK, had to go to the loo and by the time I had walked back up the steps I had missed the Boss singing, 'Jack of all Trades', one of my favourite songs off the new album, 'Wrecking Ball.'

The stage looked magnificent as did the rigging in the centre of the pit for the lighting. It takes five articulated lorries to transport the stage equipment around and God knows how long it takes for them to erect it but it looked fantastic and the time was approaching for the lighting technician to climb up to the top of the rigging to take the covers off the lights. I always get nervous and very excited when this happens because it is a signal that the moment when the band comes on stage is not long away.

Fifteen minutes before the concert is due to start there is movement in the pit, the hard core fans are getting restless, they start waving and singing Bruce songs. Shivers trickle down my spine and my heart misses a beat. 8pm arrives, Italian flags form moving waves of red, green and white. The Boss is here – he is under the stage with the band but there seems to be a problem with the sound. Instructions flit from one technician to another, Bruce’s head peeps out to see what the problem is, He is given the nod and then his head disappears.

Fifteen minutes later, emotional strings of the song, ‘Once Upon a Time in the West' can be heard from the PA system. It’s an Enio Morricane spaghetti western theme tune and one that Bruce is fond of. The band is now on stage and Bruce Springsteen, in front of 60,000 fans, looks up at the red and white ocean in front of him that reads, ‘OUR LOVE IS REAL.’ For once in his life, il Boss is lost for words. You can see the emotion in his face, he smiles, composes himself and then rich Italian words flow from his lips, ‘Itaaalia, Milaaano, San Siiiro.’ Italian is one of the world’s most romantic languages and our Bruce speaks it beautifully, rolling his ‘Rs’ like a true native. He may have been born in New Jersey, USA but his family are from Napoli. Suddenly, we hear the chords of ‘Land of Hope and Dreams’ and then the next song quickly follows, ‘My Love will Not Let You Down’. My husband has tears in his eyes and as I turn around and turn to my right I see other men sobbing.

One special moment was when he informed us beautifully in Italian that he was going to perform the whole of the Born in the USA album to honour his first time in Italy and his first concert at San Siro in 1985. Other extraordinary highlights were the intense version of ‘The River’ and the solo performance of ‘Thunder Road’, with just his acoustic guitar. It was the last song of the set, the band had left and Bruce wanted an intimate moment with a crowd he has always adored. With his hand on his heart; he told us that San Siro will always be close to his heart. I stood there clapping, shouting for more, feeling exhilarated, exhausted, and not wanting him to leave the stage. My husband put his arm around me and whispered, ‘He’s gone.’ I couldn’t believe it; I didn’t want to believe it. People started to move out but I wanted to stay and look at the film showing on the big screen of all the past five San Siro concerts. The Boss felt our emotions, saw our faces and gave us what we wanted; a concert of a life time featuring 34 songs covering 210 minutes performed with energy, passion and love. We couldn’t ask for more and nor could he.

As the E Street band left the stage, on the big screen my husband lip-read Bruce saying to his side-kick Little Stevie, ‘that was incredible,’ and indeed, it truly was.

A much needed respite from city sightseeing

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Praskipark on June 24, 2013

The leafy expanses of Parco Sempione looked welcoming after our long tour of the Castello Sforzesco. Crossing over the stone bridge we were greeted by the frontal views of two monumental mermaids, once we reached the bridge exit we were invited to look at their two plump, cheeky bottoms. I thought this was a novel idea on the part of the man who designed the bridge and also reminded me of home. The mermaid who rose from the River Vistula in Warsaw is a symbol of the city.

It was good to be in the shade as the day was hot, humid and filled with fluffy clouds. We had an hour or two to go before we would head off for San Siro to find something to eat; I was getting more and more nervous about seeing the Boss. The park was the perfect place for me to sit on a bench and think about the concert, how he would look, can he still sing, are the band as good as they were last year. All these thoughts were on my mind. I know they are not tragic thought but to a Bruce Springsteen fan these are the sorts of things I worry about.

Parco Sempione is a large park, easy to navigate and from the entrance you can see the Simplon Gate (Porta Sempione), the name that describes the gate and also the surrounding area. The highlight of the gate is a neo-classical triumphal arch (Arco della Pace) that originates from the Roman walls of the city of Milan. It’s quite an eye opener with bright white, silky walls decorated with lots of statues, bas-reliefs and huge columns. If you know your Italian history you will be able to pick out various battles and major events throughout the centuries like the Battle of Leipzig and the Congress of Vienna. From my position in the park I could see that all sorts of materials had been used to decorate the arch including marble and bronze. There are two buildings situated at the side of the arch where some people were sat on the floor and I could hear the dulcet tones of a folk singer strumming his guitar gently to the songs of Bob Dylan. These buildings used to be the customs office.

Having looked at the arch we walked back into the park and found a bench to sit on and watched joggers pass by, children toddling off with their parents, people walking dogs. There was a tranquil atmosphere; I liked the peaceful sounds of birds twittering and the leaves of the tall trees blowing softly in the warm breeze. Behind our bench was a strange concrete statue designed by an Argentinian sculptor, Giorgio Amelio Roccamonte. It wasn’t the prettiest sculpture I have come across on my travels but it was interesting even if I have no idea what it is about.

We circumnavigated the sculpture and found a path that led us to the Triennale, a building built to house the premier Italian design show every third year. We didn’t know it was there, it came upon us quite by accident. Inside there are always high level shows and exhibitions. We walked inside and it was a hive of activity – vans were parked outside, people were walking in and out with exhibition boards, shelving, display units, preparing to set up an exhibition. We weren’t allowed to go any further than the reception area; a guard told us that the Palazzo dell’ Arte was closed on Mondays. Just our luck!

Next time I will check on the website: www. triennale.it

Opening times: 10.30-20.30, Tues, Wed, Sat & Sun – 10.30-23.00, Thurs & Fri. Closed Mondays

Something the leafy expanse of the park couldn’t hide was the Torre Branca, a very high steel structure that is the second tallest building in Milan.The tower was designed by a famous architect, Gio Ponti who with fellow colleagues worked hard to get the construction completed for the Triennale Art Exhibition in 1933. The tower was closed in the early 70s until financial backers from Milanese distillers, Fratelli Branca, completely renovated it. Apparently, there is a lift to take you to the top of the tower which on a clear day you are able to see the city and the Alps. We didn’t take the lift as we didn’t have time on this trip but it is something I will do if we return to Milan. There is an admission charge and closes during bad weather in the winter.

For opening times look at this link: www. Branca.it

From here we said Goodbye to Parco Sempione, and went to catch the Metro to Lotto and the San Siro area.
I’m glad we visited the park; I liked the views of the castle at the back of the park and also of the Simplon Gate. The atmosphere was calm and summery and there was a good variety of trees that gave plenty of shade. The lake/pond in the park wasn’t the prettiest even if it did have water lilies floating on the top, it looked a bit murky. It was a reasonably attractive park but not as pretty as some parks in Warsaw.

Address: Between Castello & Corso Sempione

Park Opening times: 0700-Sunset, every day

Metro: 1, 2 to Cadorna, 1 to Cairoli, Tram: 1, 3, 4


Parco Sempione
Piazza Sempione
Milan, 20121
02 7740 4343

Leonardo wouldn't be happy about the graffiti

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Praskipark on June 13, 2013

The third day in Milan was the big one, the main purpose of our visit; we were off to San Siro Football Stadium to see Bruce Springsteen, my hero. I had butterflies in my tummy when I woke up and my head was in a real spin. We knew he wouldn’t be coming on stage until 8pm but we had decided the day before that we would make our way to San Siro around 4pm. In the meantime we wanted to see as many sights as we could to fill in the rest of the day so first on the list was the Navigli, a picturesque area, south of the Duomo, alongside the canal.

Now, the canals aren’t as pretty as Venice but in a way the Navigli area has its own run down charm, with its pastel buildings, flowered wrought iron terraces, stone and iron bridges. The only thing that spoilt the scenes for me was graffiti, it was everywhere. I don’t mind good graffiti but these scrawlings on buildings and bridges was an act of vandalism, not art. It’s a shame because nearly all buildings in the city apart from the Duomo and theatres are full of graffiti.

Leonardo da Vinci designed some of the canals, creating a system of water transport that contributed to Milan’s economic power and connected the city with rivers in the region of Lombardy. Roads weren’t very good in those days; the canal system was a safer way of transporting goods from the Alps. Interesting to note that the marble used to construct the beautiful Duomo in Milan centre was carried on these canals from Lake Maggiore. Sadly, the barges that once sailed slowly down the canals have disappeared apart from the odd one that has been covered and turned into a café/restaurant. However, you can still ride on a boat through the canals from Alzaia Naviglio Grande to see part of the Maritime Quarter. The three lines which navigate through 50km of the canal system run from May to September.

It was very quiet the morning we strolled around, cafes and restaurants were only just open, there was definitely a sleepy feel to the area. Apparently, at night the atmosphere changes, it becomes a lively setting for people of ages with a mixture of affordable venues to suit all tastes, it’s a lot of fun especially when the weather is sunny. I was attracted to all the flower boxes and saw many different plants and not just geraniums. One window I liked was filled with different types of grasses. Each pot holder was narrow and pointed and when placed altogether the effect was attractive. Not all the balconies were made from wrought iron, some were grand and made from stone, they were all different sizes too, some very small and others huge.

We saw two churches in the area, Santa Maria delle Grazie al Naviglio, a handsome church situated on Alzaia Naviglio Grande but unfortunately the gates to the church were locked. There was a small sign saying that the entrance was on another street, we did find it but realised that the church closes on a Monday. Just our luck! I was frustrated at this because apart from being a lovely building in itself there is a chapel on the right that houses a Caravaggio painting that replaces the Titian that was stolen by the army of Napoleon in 1797 and taken to the Louvre in Paris. It has never been replaced. Also, in the Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie is the Cenacolo Vinciano which houses the magnificent painting of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Tickets have to be ordered in advance to view the painting. A big oversight on our part - still there is always a next time. We also spotted a pretty yellow ochre coloured church near to a pizzeria before we walked into the Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie. Even this building had graffatti scribbled on one of the side walls.

I enjoyed our stroll around the Navigli even though it is scruffy in places. I can see why it attracts many artists and artisans and should imagine in the evening when it comes to life is a lot of fun. I asked my husband what he thought of it and he said that he wasn’t keen and out of all the sights we saw this was the least attractive and he would place it on the bottom of his list. Take a look at my photos and see what you think. I think it has character.

Take tram 9, 29, 30


Navigli District
South Of Corso Porta Ticinese
Milan, Lombardy

One hell of a fortified palace

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Praskipark on June 18, 2013

After we had finished viewing the Navigli in Milan we realised that we were both getting a bit peckish yet it was too early to eat or to go to San Siro. We wanted to eat before entering the stadium at 4pm, we had two hours to kill so looking at a map of the city, I decided to take the Metro Line 1 to Cairoli, get off and go and have a look at the Castello Sforzesco.

From the opposite side of the road the castle looked a hell of a size, I was worried that it would take more than 2 hours to see everything. There was a lot of hustle and bustle going on outside the entrance to the castle. This was because of the Tort de’spus, a beautiful fountain shaped like a wedding cake. It is meant to be one of the prettiest in Italy. The concrete base does look like the bottom layer of a cake and the way the different fountain sprays rise into the air at different heights gives the impression of other layers. Individual sprays of water spurt out at intervals all around the big pool of water which is bordered by a concrete wall. This is where visitors sit to have their photos taken.

The entrance to the complex which is really a fortified palace inside a walled enclosure is a huge brick arched tower with 3 smaller towers perched on top, built by Antonio Averulino. There is ornamentation and an antiquated clock face looking out to Piazza Castello where amongst other attractions is a very elegant building with stone balconies. There was a stream of people entering and leaving the archway and at one time I felt a bit hassled and couldn’t wait to enter the courtyard within the walls. I noticed scammers at work here at the entrance and also, once inside. It was the old bracelet trick again.

From the Middle Ages until about 1500 the Visconti and the Sforza families ruled most of northern Italy from within these brick walls. The castle has been demolished and reinvented several times throughout history and is now one of the most important historical complexes in Italy.

Once through the main tower, you can walk through four yards; Piazza delle Armi (Arms Yard), Cortile della Rocchetta ("Rocchetta" Yard) and then is the Corte Ducale (Ducal Yard) where in the loggia are frescoes and a display of stone carving. Finally, the Portico dell'Elefante (Elephant Arcade).

There are several art displays inside the castle, all worth a peep as they are quite remarkable. They vary from medieval stone to wooden carvings. One piece of work definitely worth seeing even if you don’t manage to fit anything else in, is the Rondanini Pietà, a sculpture by Michelangelo. Apparently the sculptor/artist was working on this piece just before he died. I love the simplicity of the statue; it is not like any other piece of work by the same artist. The sculpture depicts the dead body of Christ being held by Virgin Mary, the finish is smooth but there is a lack of detail which makes the sculpture even more fascinating. The museums are open from 0900 hours to 1730 hours from Tuesday to Sunday. There is an admission charge.

Other museums of interest is the museum of ancient art together with the Egyptian and prehistoric sections that belong to Milan’s Archaeological Museum.

It was a very humid day we visited the castle and it was a blessing to be able to walk around the old walkways that connect the towers of the castle. Walking through the arches cooled us down and made the tour of the castle more relaxing.

We didn’t see as much of the complex as we would have liked. In reality I think visitors could spend at least a half day here and then walk on to Parco Sempione which we did another day and spend an afternoon in the park.

Address: Piazza Castello
Telephone: (02) 8846 3703
Web: www.milanocastello.it
Castle Grounds opening times: April – October (0700 – 1900), November – March (0700- 1800).
Metro: 1, 2 to Cadorna, 1 to Caroli
Bus: 43, 57, 58
Tram: 1, 3, 4
Castello Sforzesco
Piazza Castello
Milan, Italy, 20121

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