Our original intention for going there was a train-trip from Milano to Brescia to see a football game on the Sunday, which would have meant I could at last lay eyes on my footballing hero of 12 years. But it was not to be; at the end of January he suffered a severe injury on the field, and was out for months. Too late for us to change our itinerary; the fares were already booked and paid for -- and anyway, I have a terrible weakness for Milano ... It is, as ever, my favourite city. And I am STILL unable to explain this fact.

We'd been reading about its problems with lo smog for some weeks before our arrival, and when we flew in it was all too real. Like being in thin pea-soup, I told my N&D by e-mail, except that you could breathe OK. By the time we drizzled in by bus to Stazione Centrale and then walked (coupla blocks) to the hotel, it had become almost dark -- around 3:30pm ... so different from the weather we'd experienced the two previous times we'd been there that we had trouble coming to terms with it. Happily, on the Thursday evening it started to rain, and that eased the smog *and* the lowering cloud cover a lot.