by Louis Bignami

A buddy who visits Milano often claims "Malpensa" stands for "bad thoughts." It’s not the airport that necessarily defines sloth, it’s getting to town. If you can’t get the hotel to send a limousine, bus to Stazione Central, that’s about five minutes by taxi from the Piazza della Republica. These run every half hour and take about an hour with a five minute bus ride to the above-mentioned hotels. Taxis are "interesting." Fares can run 100,000 Lira or more -- $60 -$80 depending on the traffic and the driver’s route selection that varies according to what he thinks he can get away with. So far we’ve avoided Linate Airport that gets mostly local flights.

Given the choice from other Italian cities, Switzerland or France I try to take the high speed trains in to Stazione Centrale and avoid the dubious joys of flying in and out. Last fly-in, for example, we left Paris at ten in the morning for a one o’clock flight that we barely made – granted it was a weekend. With delays it took about three hours to get to Milan. It took another hour to get luggage and an hour two town. High speed trains don’t take much longer than this.

In Milan, taxis seem reasonable, but a superb Metro takes you where you need to go. The Duomo is, for example, four stops south from Piazza della Republica on the Yellow line. Everything else is on the Green or Red lines and there are exactly four intersections to keep you on the right track.

Subways key quick and convenient access if, and only if, you either have exact change for their ticket machines or buy tickets at newstands. One ticket is good for 75 minutes and 24 and 48 hour tickets deserve consideration even though subways offer only a periscope perspective of the city. Summer does add Musica in Metro’s summer concerts in metro stations, but like all Italian cities,Milan’s not at its best in the summer

Note: We usually walk. Distances between Milan’s major attractions are short, shops and cafes walked up wonderful, and the exercise a needed anecdote to the joys of Milanese risotto.