We took the train up to Milano, having spoken by 'phone with a great friend from Sydney, the incomparable Ercole Perego, who was in Faenza with his family at that time. Ercole had promised to arrange tickets for the opera at La Scala, and we knew him better than to doubt that he would. Our hotel, the Flora, close to la Stazione Centrale, was under a bit of restauro, but was excellent nonetheless.
Scarce as hens' teeth, tickets to La Scala are ! Tiny irritation: the performance was being recorded on camera for subsequent video release, and those lights were HOT ! But it was super until the ballet bit in the middle; yet, we learned, many devotees attended *for the ballet* ! -- no accounting for taste ...
Next morning we took our caffè in the city and read about the downfall of Ceaucescu in Romania. It was utterly amazing to comprehend that we were in Europe during these momentous times.
In Milano we had our one and only brush with gypsies, adept at pocket-picking but unsuccessful with us on account of CS' vigilance. We took trams and travelled around as much as our limited time there allowed, and I *loved* the place.
At lunchtime we took a train to Faenza to visit i Perego, and were looked after wonderfully. We were taken for a day trip to San Marino (passing the Imola Grand Prix circuit, CS noted, obsessively !) and took some really nice pic.s there ... San Marino's history is not familiar to us; suffice it to say we found it beautiful, but limited in attractions by size ... Its tourist shops are its mainstay, it would seem; and it won't lack for those whose patronage is so important !
We spent an entire morning in the Booking Office at La Scala; for in spite of there being tickets waiting for us, we had still to queue -- and an hour in *the wrong queue* wasn't the best thing for our acceptance of the need to do this ... But in the end, it was worth it; Ercole had been successful (we discovered later, back home, what frightful porkies he'd told about our standing, so as to get the tickets !) and we emerged with two prime tickets to «I Vespri Siciliani» that night, starring one of our favourite baritones, Zancanaro.
Then back to Milano Stazione Centrale, for Paris ... Had formed opinion regarding Milano as being The Centre of The Universe: unable to be specific in stating just why ...