|Antica Locanda Leonardo courtyard.|
New Year's Eve was a beautiful, sunny day. We set out to see as much as we could since many points of interest would be closed on New Year's. Milan certainly gives off a business/commerce sort of vibe. The urban streets are bustling with busy people dressed in suits, banks from every country flank the streets, and the scent of wealth and power is strong in the air. It was a refreshing change of scenery to see the grand Duomo.
The Duomo sits upon the Piazza del Duomo. It's Milan's main square and is filled with tourists, peddlers, and pickpockets. We walked with our heads down, bags close, and were still surprised by how aggressively people tried to sell us bracelets and birdseed.
|Galleria Vittorio Emanuele|
Beneath the dome, various coats of arms are depicted as a symbol of unification. There is a wolf for Rome, lily for Florence, a flag for Milan, and a bull for Turin. The tradition goes that you must put your heel on the bull's testicles and perform one spin on top of them for good luck. It isn't just a tourist trap. If you stand long enough, you'll see lots of people doing it-- including the Milanese. I was taking a photo and suddenly an older, distinguished-looking Italian gentleman stepped upon the bull, caught my eye, and spun. Then he spread his arms wide and said, "Prego!" to me. He watched as I performed the spin and, nodding satisfactorily, rejoined his wife.
|Take a spin!|
I've been to many different dinners with wine pairings. The formula is pretty standard: A glass of wine accompanies each course and it's presented by a knowledgeable sommelier who enthusiastically speaks about the flavor of the wine, its origin, and why it's the best accompaniment to the dish. The course is finished, along with the glass of wine, and the tasting moves forward with the next plate.
At Boccondivino, the process is a little different. There was still a sommelier (a delightful man with a passion for wine and a twinkle to his eyes) and there was still a pairing for every course. But instead of a glass, it was a bottle. Yes, I mean that the ENTIRE bottle of wine was left on the table for refills. We didn't really notice it with the first course but by the second one, we realized that two bottles of wine were sitting in front of us, opened and waiting to be emptied.
"That's weird," said my husband. "Do you think they mean to do that?'
We looked around and noticed that the rest of the patrons were also amassing their own stashes.
"Well, they can't possibly continue to do this for every course," I said. "Maybe you're meant to just have a couple bottles for the whole duration."
That guess was wrong. Course after course continued to arrive at our table. We had everything from cheese and pate to lard and gnocchi (not together). At some point our friendly sommelier stopped giving his eloquent speeches and just eased the next bottle in front of us along with another glass. We became great friends with the couple seated next to us and I think we were shouting in Italian by the end of everything. It wasn't a tasting; it was a downright sloshing.
Suddenly the room darkened and shouts of "Buon anno!" flooded the restaurant. Bottles of champagne were popped open and we ate lentils for good luck. The manager, who by now was red-faced and extra-jovial, shook hands with each patron and wished them a happy new year. Dessert was still on the way and it was accompanied by port or sherry. I can't remember which because I had ceased imbibing about three glasses before that.
|Lentils for luck.|
I don't remember much about our stroll back to the hotel other than it wasn't as cold as it could have been due to our wine coats, we laughed a lot and took many ridiculous photos, and the people in the room next to us were shouting, "Happy New Year!" at the tops of their lungs for several hours into 2013.
Needless to say, we missed the hotel breakfast the next morning but we did manage to make it back out into Milan for another day of sightseeing. But I think I'll save that story for later. Just the memory of Boccondovino has made me woozy.