Vienna: The Pursuit of the Sacher Torte

Vienna may be famous for music but there is one other thing it is famous for: the sacher torte, aka the most famous chocolate cake in the whole world. So famous in fact, that December 5 has been designated as National Sachertorte Day.

The sachertorte actually has royal beginnings. Back in 1832, Prince Wenzel von Metternich asked his chef to come up with a special dessert for his royal guests and the chef’s young apprentice, Franz Sacher, came up with this chocolate cake.

It didn’t immediately gain the fame it would later have until Franz’ son, Eduard, tweaked and perfected the torte during his training at the Demel bakery where it was first served, and later on at the Hotel Sacher, which was established by Eduard.

Anyway, now the torte is served in various cafes and pastry shops all over Vienna and my friends and I set out to eat just about all the versions of it that our tummies could handle. First stop: Aida.

Aida is quite hard to miss as there are almost three dozen shops all over. Its pastel pink interiors with its name written in big cursive letters and the undeniable scent of confectioner’s sugar and coffee drifting out of its windows stand out amidst all those historical buildings.

I am quite a predictable coffee drinker in that I prefer the traditional flavours – which is probably why I felt right at home there: I got myself a nice cup of cappuccino to wake me up for our 1st morning in Vienna, and a fruity tart to go with it. Coffee was good, not outstanding but I could definitely get used to it.

IMG_4126We also tried their apfelstrudel (apple pie), which was quite different from the apple pies I’m used to; it was starchy and not overflowing with crunchy apples. But with a nice scoop cream, it more than made me a happy camper.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAida is famous for its wide array of tortes (or cakes), and since we were in in Vienna, why not try their version of the sachertorte? And at the risk of sounding cliche, we also tried the Mozart Torte, a dark chocolate sponge cake with nougat and pistacchio marzipan all topped with fondant icing. It even had a chocolate button with Mozart’s profile on it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur quest for the sachertorte didn’t end at Aida. We also tried the sachertorte at the Gloriette of the Schonbrunn, which tasted okay, though I found it a bit too dry for my taste.

IMG_4131As I mentioned earlier,the recipe for the sachertorte was perfected by Eduard during his training at Demel so I knew we had to find this bakery. It took as a bit of going around side streets and alleyways with hard to read much less pronounce names, but thanks to our trusty trip advisor app, we found it a few blocks away from our hotel at the St. Stephensplatz.

Now, there had been legal battles surrounding the sachertorte – after all, Eduard served it in his Hotel Demel (which later filed for bankruptcy) while the “original sachertorte” was offered by Demel. When his widow Anna died and the Hotel Demel filed for bankruptcy, his son Eduard (yeah, same name) became an employee at Demel, bringing with him the right for the Eduard Sachertorte. Anyway, the two establishments slugged it out in court until they finally settled it by letting the Hotel Sacher have the rights to use “the original sachertorte” while Demel was given the rights to put triangular seals on their cakes bearing the words “Eduard Sachertorte.”

Demel was packed! I don’t remember anymore if there was a third floor, but we found ourselves sharing a small table at the 2nd floor of the building. And of course, we got the sachertorte and apfelstrudel. Their version of the former had one layer of jam between the chocolate icing and sponge portion. It’s not your usual chocolate cake, since it is not fluffy or chocolatey sweet but rather dense and has a light tinge of bitter cocoa that saves it from being overwhelming.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe apfelstrudel at Demel was better than at Aida’s, perhaps because I found it had more apples and had a nice sprinkling of powdered sugar.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince we’ve tried just about all versions of the sachertorte in Vienna, we couldn’t let our visit end without going to the Hotel Sacher now, can we?

The Hotel Sacher, a five-star hotel in the vicinity of the plaza, serves sachertortes that are made using the secret recipe that Franz Sacher created almost two hundred years ago. Hundreds of thousands of sachertortes are made almost entirely by hand by its staff every year, to be served in its cafes and restaurants, or bought as souvenirs. They also accept orders (even online!) which can be shipped to various cities all over the world.

IMG_4140This version of the famous cake has not one but two layers of jam compared which I loved, since it broke the monotony of too much chocolate. I also found it fluffier and more moist (at least as moist a cake in Vienna could probably get), and therefore, more to my liking. IMG_4139Well, of all the sachertortes I’ve tasted, I’d give my money to Hotel Sacher, since I prefer the taste of their chocolate (dark and smoother) and their fluffier sponge cake. Plus, the ambience is perfect for catching up with friends without the crowd.

Now, I wonder if they ship to Manila? 😀

Vienna: Volksgarten

Walking around the city for the first time and wandering around the many gardens and plazas, I had to admit that yes, Vienna is as wonderful as they make it out to be and those surveys constantly naming it as one of the best cities to live in (if not the best) are all telling the truth. More than the palaces that are works of art themselves, I loved the public parks, especially the Volksgarten, or People’s Garden, where anyone can just sit to smell the roses, quite literally.

The Volksgarten, built in the early 19th century over the old city fort that was destroyed by Napoleon’s army, was originally envisioned as a private garden for the imperial family. Thankfully, these plans were scrapped in favor of turning it into the first public garden in the city.

One of the highlights of the park is the Theseus Temple by Pietro di Nobile, a miniature version of a temple of Hephaestus in Athens. It originally housed a scuplture of Theseus and the Minotaur by Antonio Canova, which has since been missing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The park is also known for its very pretty rose garden. I love roses, as you may have noticed and I could have stayed in this garden the entire time just looking at them and inhaling their delicate scent. And the roses are so many and so big, I was almost tempted to pick one!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI even found a purple rose near the yellow roses. But the pink ones are the biggest I have ever seen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The garden is also home to two monuments, one for Empress Elisabeth of Bavaria and another for writer Karl Grillparzer. There are also two fountains in the middle of the garden, one showing Triton and the Nymph and another simply called the Volksgarten Fountain.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Hofburg Buildings, of which the garden is a part of, can be seen from its rose gardens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There were many people at the garden that afternnon but the park was still big enough that we never felt crowded or that its tranquility was lost; plus, it was very clean, there were a lot benches (and mind you, they weren’t rusty at all)  and the flower beds well-maintained – I guess a big part of this is due to the discipline of the people. I never saw anyone trying to pick flowers or littering, or downright just making a ruckus. It was very romantic and all those beautiful flowers around you make it seem even more perfect than it already was.

Vienna: Belvedere Castle

Being the imperial capital and home of the Habsburg dynasty, Vienna doesn’t run out of historic palaces and castles. One of these castles is the Belvedere, which was built as the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy in the early 18th century. He commissioned court architect Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt to build his castle on a then undeveloped piece of property in the city.

The castle actually has two buildings – the lower and upper Belvedere. The two structures are quite different from each other, with the Upper Belvedere serving as the grander of the the two, with statues of cherubs and muses adorning its roof.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The Upper Belvedere

I didn’t get to see the interior of the castle (I doubt if my feet could have done it as my friends and I had been walking all over the city the entire day) but the garden which separates the two buildings sure made up for it. The garden unmistakably has a French flair to it – and after researching a bit on it later on did I learn that it had elements designed for it by a former student of Andre Le Notre, the landscape architect and chief gardener of King Louis IV of France, who most famously designed the gardens of Versailles.

This one is on a much smaller scale and you can circle the garden in our hour; although of course, to enjoy it, you would have to spend endless hours.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe castle gardens remind me of classic childhood literature, somewhere along the lines of The Secret Garden, it’s quite small compared to Versaille or Schonbrunn, but that’s part of its charm. It doesn’t look so intimidating or so out of touch when you can see end to end with your bare eyes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love flowers! I’ve been torn about staying in a condo or buying a house somewhere in the suburbs precisely because I want my own garden, as big as I can possibly afford.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Lower Belvedere looks a bit drab compared to its more grandiose sibling, the Upper Belvedere.

There are not that many people in the castle, perhaps because we visited very late in the afternoon, which makes it perfect for when you just want to slow down while touring the city. I wouldn’t mind exploring the various rooms and exhibitions inside when I visit next time.

The Duomo di Milano

The Italian word duomo means cathedral, but when you hear the word, your thoughts would automatically go to the Duomo di Milano and with good reason: it is the fifth largest church in the world and second largest cathedral, and perhaps the best known cathedral (or duomo). It also took almost 500 years to complete, with contruction started back in the late 14th century. We actually have to thank Napoleon Bonaparte for speeding up the completion of its facade, since he wanted the cathedral completed before his coronation as king of Italy – to this end, he proclaimed that all expenses will be shouldered by the treasury of France. Needless to say, with the guarantee of reimbursement, construction was completed in less than a decade.

The duomo stands out from other churches I’ve been to because of the Candoglia marble facade. Plus, it has many turrets and spires instead of towers, and many marble statues adorning its walls, entrances, and many corners. However, you can tell that construction was never really finished as there are still blank blocks waiting to be carved into gargoyles or statues.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is a very beautiful building whether you visit it early morning with little light coming from the sun just rising from the horizon, or midday with the full light of the sun almost making the church too bright for the naked eye, or evening with the soft light from the nearby lampposts rendering it almost ethereal against a backdrop of dark skies.

It’s quite romantic, minus the crowd that never seems to dissipate.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used to think that those movies showing tourists feeding flocks of pigeon at the piazza were exaggerations until I got to experience it myself. There are many sellers who will try to sell bread for you to feed the pigeons with but my friends and I brought our own and this made them a bit upset and some of them got quite rude. It’s a good thing there were five of us so we just huddled together and walked away whenever the sellers would try to approach us.
IMG_4073The side of the duomo reminds me of the Notre Dame in Paris, maybe because of the similar window panels.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMassive as it is on the outside, it feels even bigger inside given the floor to ceiling height. And the thick marble pillars all contribute to the Gothic theme of the cathedral.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABuilt in the early 20th century, the organ of the duomo is the largest in Italy, and one of the 15 largest in the whole world. It is made of several organs scattered inside the duomo.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARecognized as the most famous statue in the cathedral, this artwork of Marco d’agrate (circa 16th century) shows St. Bartholomew with his flayed skin over his shoulders. As per tradition, St. Bartholomew was martyred in Albania, skinned alive and then crucified. I can’t imagine how much suffering he must have endured to have the skin stripped off his body and then crucified. The status itself is quite disturbing enough without you knowing the history behind it.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are various sarcophagi inside the duomo, especially of former archbishops. While I am fine loking at sarcophagi and marvelling at their usually intricate designs, I can’t help but be creeped out by glass coffins.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are well-maintained crypts under the duomo and oftentimes, private masses are being held there.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn one of its crypts, underneath the main altar itself, is the sarcophagus of Saint Charles Borromeo, a member of the Medici family, one of the most powerful families during the Renaissance. Though born an aristocract, he was actively involved in the reformation of the church, helping establish seminaries during his time.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe duomo was undergoing restoration works during our visit – all that marble probably needs a good cleaning what with hundreds of years worth of pollution. Austerity measures implemented by the government included budget cuts to the city’s cultural funds, and this probably forced the duomo’s administration to get creative: they launched this adopt a gargoyle initiative where patrons can “adopt” one of the gargoyles and have their names carved underneath, in exchange for donations. This donation will then be used for the maintenance of the gargoyles they’ve adopted. In fairness, the duomo is one of the best kept churches I’ve been to in Europe (a lot are really old and felt abandoned). I am quite saddened though that beautiful old churches such as the duomo, which are great treasures not just of Catholics but of the entire human population, now have to fend for themselves and beg for alms just to survive.

I didn’t get the chance to go up the duomo and see the Madonna statue up close and get a 360-degree view of Milan, but hey – that just means I should include it in my next trip, right?

Hamley’s at Central Square

Hubby and I are really just two kids at heart so we were giddy with excitement when we found out that Hamley’s was opening a branch here. Originally called Noah’s Ark, Hamley’s was founded by William Hamley in Lindon in 1760, which makes it the oldest toy shop in the world!

IMG_4879

The toy store had a lot of the usual toys – legos, barbie dolls…

IMG_4868

IMG_4869

Lots of plushies!

IMG_4877

IMG_4878

They have all sorts of bubble makers which would delight any kid. I found them rather expensive though – I got the bubble camera (right-most from the photo below) for Georgie and I was mildly disappointed that for a simple toy worth close to Php 500, it failed to make the different bubble shapes and kept spilling on my hands. My Php 20 bubble canister (the one you always find in loot bags) performed better. Still, it was aesthetically pleasing enough and I guess that’s what I paid for.

IMG_4872

 Arts and crafts!

IMG_4876

The main reason hubby and I were excited to go to Hamley’s was because we wanted to buy old-fashioned toys. You know, the ones made of die-cast metal and wood, and hand-made. These wooden blocks were the closest we got to our wish.

IMG_4874

IMG_4873

We also found these cute binoculars and telescopes, similar to the ones by Lonely Planet which I spied at Toy Kingdom a few weeks ago, albeit cuter. I wanted to get one for Joey but he didn’t want it (he only realized later on when he saw we got one for his cousin that he actually wanted one himself).

IMG_4870

Oh, and they have Tokyo Vinyl stuff here, for the collectors out there.

IMG_4871

Hamley’s, given its location at the Central Square, is a nice alternative to the other toy stores since it is less crowded, but, if they plan on opening near a Toys R Us or Toy Kingdom, they’d better stock up on more unique toys to attract customers. As it is, you can find the same stuff in other toy stores so hubby and I were a little disappointed (no die cast double decker buses!!!).

Out and About in Milan

Whenever I think of Italian food, pizza and pasta would normally come to mind. Surprisingly though, I didn’t really find any pasta/pizza dish in Milan that stood out. But we found this neighborhood cafe serving gelato and chocolates that were oh so good we didn’t mind visiting almost every day after our daily excursion.

We found Cioccolat Italiani by accident – we were on our daily walk from our charming apartment near the San Lorenzo columns when we chanced upon this cafe a few steps back from Via Torino. It had a laid back and cozy atmosphere which we immediately liked.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And how appropriate that the cafe is beside the Church of St. George?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our handsome server patiently explaining the different gelato flavors. He didn’t need to – we’ll have whatever they’re serving. Hahaha!

Inside was an open kitchen where you can see the staff preparing your coffee or gelato. Can you all those chocolate bars near our table? I thought I was gonna die of happiness.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We got their chocolate gelato sampler – five different kinds of chocolate to choose from! I can’t even remember which one I liked most but I would definitely recommend this to all chocolate lovers out there. They were all so creamy, not too sweet and the chocolate was very rich, whether you get the milk chocolate, the dark chocolate, the hazelnut, or the white chocolate.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Well, it was kinda hard focusing on gelato that day…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And you have to try their coffee and waffles! Sure to perk you up for the day.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Surprisingly, one of the best meals we had in Milan didn’t involve pasta and pizza but rather sort of Asian fusion. We were so hungry on our first day after a long train ride from Paris that we didn’t have much energy to go far from our apartment in Urbano – which turned out perfectly fine because we stumbled upon this quaint little place in front of the Roman columns of San Lorenzo that served the best smoked ham and cheese, and rolls! Too bad we were so hungry we forgot to jot down the name of the place but if ever you’re in Milan and find yourself near the columns, it’s just across the street and comes highly recommended by me!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Our neighborhood in Milan is actually the “hip” part of Milan, with a whole street lined up with bars (really loud ones!) and several whole in the wall restos, one of which we really liked is the Cantina della Vetra, where I first tasted the stuffed zucchini. I loved it so much I ordered the same dish almost everywhere (sadly, Cantina’s version was the best I tasted in all the restos we went to).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Milan is so fashionable not even the walls were spared. How I wish street art in Manila is this cool! Sadly, ours look like drunken kids and teenagers were given spray paint and brushes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Eiffel Tower

Paris… City of Lights. I will never get tired of you.

It is a really beautiful city, and just about every inch of it is picture perfect. When I first visited Pairs two years ago, I didn’t get to see the Eiffel Tower up close – I was five months pregnant then and had a fever (yet nothing could stop me from traveling!) so I let the hubby and our friends go to the tower while I stayed behind sleeping in our hotel.

Last year though, I made sure to walk right up to it, bad weather be damned.

My friends and I took a cruise on the Seine river, which, in my opinion, is a must when visiting Paris. Unfortunately, it was raining quite hard and I didn’t really like how Bateaux Parisienne boats have these telephone-like gadgets you put to your ear to listen to an audio recording explaining the sights around you. I found it rather inconvenient that my hands were tied up holding the huge receiver and my umbrella, and that I couldn’t take photos because of it. I’d much prefer a live guide to talk me through it, similar to my first Seine cruise. Still, nothing can beat the beauty and magic of Paris.

Anyway, it was quite dark when we finished our cruise and dinner – perfect time to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up and sparkling. There’s just something magical about it. I wish I could show you the video but I haven’t figured out yet how to upgrade/post videos here yet (I know, such a lame excuse).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Grey skies only made its beauty stand out more. I can’t believe the people almost tore it down a century ago.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our cruise included dinner at Le Notre, a quaint little restaurant on a boat anchored in the Seine river banks, quite near the Eiffel. I was famished so I got the tomato/ham salad – it looked so yummy when it was served, and I actually thought the tomato was meat coz it was almost as red as the ham!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI got some meat dish as my entree but I didn’t really enjoy it much… or maybe I was just bummed that it was our last night in Paris already.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor dessert, I got the lemon cake coz I didn’t want a very sweet dessert. Talk about getting more than you ask for – the cake was so sour I felt like it was drizzled with fresh lemons! Seriously! Even my friends tried and couldn’t take one bite of it. I should have gotten the strawberry shortcake instead, which my friend willingly shared with me after seeing how disappointed I was with my lemon cake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’d stick with strawberries next time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the last of my Paris posts which makes me sad just thinking about it. Oh well, time to plan my next trip to Europe!

Bruges Lace

I love lace. If I could wear lace everyday I would – oh wait, I practically do! I have dresses, skirts, tops, undergarments and accessories made of lace. My wedding gown was made of lace.

Anyway, enough about my raving about lace. I’m just excited that after two years, I was finally able to use my lace pillowcases from Bruges. Now, Bruges is very well know for its lace, considered by many to be the best in all of Europe. So of course, I made sure to buy some of it to take home with me. I didn’t want to use my old pillows for such special pillowcases and it took me quite awhile to buy new ones (fine, I forgot) but here they are finally!

image

Lovely, right? I probably should have bought more. Oh well, I guess this justifies another trip to Belgium. Hahaha!

Castello Sforzesco

Cities in Europe don’t run out of castles and palaces, and Milan is no exception. Just a few minutes away from the bustling Duomo, you will find the Castello Sforzesco, or Sforza Castle. Built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforzesco, the Duke of Milan, it was later rebuilt and enlarged, and at one point, was one of the largest forts in all of Europe. Today, however, the castle houses several museums and art collections.

The castle has undergone many renovations throughout its existence but the layout and features largely remained the same, thanks to the plans left behind. What really fascinates me about this castle is that it actually has circular towers in its corners, and I can imagine it having drawbridges in each of its entrances during its heyday.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe castle is big, but not impossible to navigate in a day (unlike Versailles or Schonbrunn), at least if you’re goal is just to circle it and maybe look into a couple of the museums housed there. There are several buildings inside, and pocket gardens with reflecting pools in the middle. Too bad though that the pool (or pond?) was very dirty during our visit. Perhaps because it was summer and everything was dry and dusty.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am a museum freak so of course, I had to drag my friends with me and our first stop was the Museum of Ancient Art, found on the ground floor of the Ducal Courtyard. This is right behind the museum ticket counter and souvenir shop, so there is no missing it, and why it serves as the logical first stop on the tour. The museum is very tourist friendly as well, since there are reading materials which you can get in each room, free of charge!

Perhaps the most imposing structure in the first and second rooms would be the Sepulchral Monument of Bernabo Visconti, former lord of Milan, which stands proud in the middle of the room. Made in 1363, the marble monument was supposed to be used for the apse of the San Giovanni church in Conca, but later used as a sepulchral monument for Bernabo Visconti after his arrest and subsequent murder (by his nephew, Gian Galazzo, who had seized power). The sarcophagus, made between 1380 and 1385, was added to the marble statue of the figure riding a horse.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are also two slabs from tombs on the floor and not to play favorites, but I liked the one of Bianca di Savoia, mother of Gian Galazzo Visconti:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARoom VII or the Room of the Gonfalone is dedicated to sculpture from the 16th to the 18th century and various tapestries. But what immediately caught my eye (and my nose to be honest, owing to the dust and mites that must be living in colonies within) was this huge tapestry of the standard of the city of Milan, dating from the mid-16th century. It first appeared in public in 1566, during the feast of the Duomo of Milan.

The standard depicts Saint Ambrose with two soldiers at his feet, with four significant events from the life of the saint depicted along the sides of the tapestry signifying his holiness.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the Sala del Ducali, or Room IX, a sculpture of the Madonna and Child greets visitors upon entry. This wort of art from Jacopino da Tradate is notable for the lifelike draping of the garment – indeed, I actualy found it so meticulously carved to mimic the flow of garments as they would in real life. However, one aspect which I found severely lacking is that the face is rather unattractive. I am quite used to seeing similar scuplture where the effort is more concentrated on the facial features rather than other details. 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
One of the highlights of our tour to the Sforza Castle is being able to see up close a huge sculpture by Michaelangelo – the Rondanini Pieta. I have seen a Madonna and Child scuplture of his in Bruges, but that was from about five meters away and with velvet ropes barring me so this was actually my first close encounter with an artwork of his.

As legend would have it, the artist was working on this up to a few days before his death and that he intended for it to be given to his servant, Antonio del Francese.

The sculpture in the castle appears to have undergone several versions, with Michaelangelo superimposing another version on top of the original, and this can be seen in the different texture of various parts of the sculpture, and sometimes, it seems even different techniques employed. In any case, this pieta was not finished owing to the death of Michaelangelo.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne part of the castle was dedicated to antique furniture and cutlery and all sorts of household stuff. One word actually comes to mind whenever I see such rich/ostentatious display of wealth: nouveau riche. Each furniture was so intricately carved with gold or silver trimmings that one cannot mistake that they were deliberately put there to remind the spectator of the cost or value such a piece would have commanded.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFruit platter in solid silver, anyone? I even spied a silver cutlery set with gods and goddesses on the handles. I am forever a fan of mythology and I would love to have a similar set in my future home, but probably only in stainless steel as that’s only what I can afford. Hahaha!

I remember my grandmother had this antique set of a small flask and shot glasses made of silver in her house and thinking, it must be so expensive now. Too bad they promptly disappeared and I couldn’t find them during my next visit.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe gilded furniture kind of reminds me of the ones being sold at Muebles Italiano. Then again, it is an Italian-themed furniture store.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe last part we visited before our feet forced us to head home was the underground level containing the Egyptian section. Of course, I was ecstatic. I have been dreaming of going to Egypt since I was a kid that I think I must have been Egyptian in my past life, if I am to believe in reincarnation.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI didn’t think I’d see another Egyptian mummy just a few days after paying a visit to the one at the Louvre but what do you know. This one though is not as complete as the one in Paris, and the funeral jars are missing.

There are many other rooms at the castle containing paintings and musical instruments that we weren’t able to visit; it was simply too big, but more manageable than the Louvre and certainly easier to navigate. Our feet just couldn’t go much further after our stop at the Egyptian section. I am quite glad that we decided to explore this castle based only on our trusty Trip Advisor app as otherwise, I might have missed it completely (I didn’t really plan much for our Milan leg since I knew I was heading to Switzerland as well). Definitely one of the highlights of our Milan trip.